Update: Georgia appeals class-action ruling in child support cases

We reported recently on a Georgia-related topic that is garnering an increasing amount of national attention, namely, the incarceration of persons deemed “deadbeat parents” by the state for their delinquency on child support payments (please see our January 9 blog post).

As we noted, about 3,500 parents were jailed in the state last year for that reason, with Georgia being one of only four states in the country that does not appoint attorneys to indigent parents who face contempt charges in child support cases.

Following a Fulton County Superior Court judge’s recent ruling granting class-action status to Georgia parents who are indigent and facing contempt actions brought by the state, the Georgia Attorney General’s Office vowed to appeal.

It has now done so, filing a motion last week that cites an “epidemic” of parents in the state who are not meeting their support duties. State attorneys say that those who are jailed are locked up owing to “the consequences of their own poor decision making.”

That action has brought an immediate response from a number of diverse groups and organizations.

One of them is the Southern Center for Human Rights, an Atlanta-based organization that represents incarcerated indigent fathers. A spokesperson for the center says that, “We absolutely have a modern day debtor’s prison.” She adds: “The state often uses incarceration as a first resort rather than a last resort.”

The class action lawsuit includes five plaintiffs and a diverse group of, potentially, thousands of people that encompasses military veterans, homeless persons, immigrants and also a pregnant woman.

Source: Washington Examiner, “Fathers challenge jail sentence for child support” Greg Bluestein, Jan. 29, 2012

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