One would think that these parents, who, in essence, are stealing from their children, would be sought after and arrested like any other felon. Alabama is a "law and order" state, right?
But that's not the case. Instead of finding where the deadbeat lives and going to get him (or her), under Alabama law the officer must have an arrest warrant in hand — not on file at the office, as in most criminal cases — and wait for the suspect to leave their home before they can be picked up.
The result frequently is a police subterfuge, where a plain-clothes officer knocks on the door and tells the suspect their car has been vandalized. When the suspect goes out to check, the officer makes the arrest.
Often, however, the suspect knows as many tricks as does the officer and refuses to leave the house. All the officer can do is wait. And with law enforcement already spread thin, waiting is not always an option.
Meanwhile, the children — without support that is legally theirs — are doing without material comforts and necessities children should have.
This is a highly charged, emotional issue. Many of the parents who have been ordered to pay child support resent the decision because it involves giving money to a former spouse with whom they already have a strained, if not angry, relationship. Divorce often is messy.
But despite what the paying parent might feel, courts do not make these decisions lightly. Divorce and custody do not end parental responsibilities.
It's unfortunate that Alabama law makes it difficult for law enforcement to carry out court orders in child-support cases. If legislators are looking for something to make right in the next legislative session, this would be an issue to consider.