TN Rep. Favors says child support system has "unrealistic" expec - WSMV Channel 4

TN Rep. Favors says child support system has "unrealistic" expectations

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The law requires tens of thousands of parents in Hamilton County to pay child support or face jail time. Local State Representative JoAnne Favors is challenging the state's laws, saying expectations of non-custodial parents are "unrealistic." She hosted a public forum on it Thursday.

There's currently more than 23,000 open child support cases in Hamilton County. Representative JoAnne Favors says those parents are being charged too much, and locking them up for not paying is not helping. Hundreds of parents attending her forum are hoping their stories will inspire a change to the system.

"I got so many calls, that I could not address them individually," Rep. JoAnne Favors said.

Rep. Favors says she averages a dozen complaints a week from non-custodial parents about the child support system.

"Having been a single parent for many years myself, I do understand how important it is to have child support payments, but it has to be realistic," Rep. Favors said.

She hopes the public forum educates the public on current laws and will help her gather stories for a report to the legislature. Favors thinks a change in law would lead to more parents paying up.

"What they do now is hold them in contempt and place them in Silverdale here in Hamilton County. You can't work if you're incarcerated," Rep. Favors said.

She thinks if they're going to be incarcerated, they should still be able to work so they can make the payments. She also wants amounts to more accurately reflect their wages, cost of living in their area, and  other more case-specific considerations.

"How can these individuals survive and meet the obligations? It's impossible to do," Child Support Task Force Member and Silverdale Parenting Teacher Wiley Morton said.

"It was $1,253 a month plus insurance for the kids and all of it, I couldn't afford to live. I was literally sleeping in my car for a couple months," parent Josh Dzik said.

Dad of two, Josh Dzik has been struggling to pay child support for years.

"When I lost my job, the child support kept accruing and accruing, until I could get another job so it left me in the hole and I'm doing everything I can to get out," Dzik said.

He believes all non-custodial parents should have to pay child support, but agrees with Favors, that there need to be more reasonable expectations for how much.

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