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21 Kids, 11 Mothers, 1 Father: Ways to Collect Child Support

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on May 29, 2009 12:51 PM

A 29-year-old man in Tennessee apparently has been really busy ... fathering children, and now appearing at the court house, that is. KAKE reports that Desmond Hatchett is claiming to have fathered 20 and just maybe 21 or more kids (he says he knows all their names and ages) by at least 11 different mothers.

Desmond Hatchett's circumstances surfaced after Tennessee authorities took him to court for failing to pay his child support, which considering he reportedly earns minimum wages, might not be too surprising. Indeed, the story noted that even though the various "mothers of Hatchett's children are supposed to get anywhere from $25 to $309 a month ... when his paycheck is garnished amongst them all, some women only get a $1.98 a month."

Even though Hatchett's case is extreme and most people hopefully won't face 10 other parents seeking child support from the same person, what measures are available for a custodial parent to go about collecting unpaid child support? There are actually a variety of methods which can be used to collect child support from "deadbeat" parents or those that are simply temporarily behind. Here's a quick list with descriptions of key options:

1) Wage deduction orders or garnishment - garnishment of wages is a common way to collect currently due and previously unpaid child support. This is basically where a court orders an employer to withhold a certain amount (capped by law) which is then passed on to the custodial parent.

2) Tax Refunds - states can intercept any tax refunds due to parents with unpaid child support. This can be a good option for large past due amounts where a large refund is anticipated.

3) Liens on Property - another option is to have the state place a lien on property owed by the delinquent parent (assuming they have something of value such as a car, real estate, etc.). This essentially puts a legal burden on the property, and the amount of the lien must be satisfied when it is sold

4) Contempt of Court - This may presumably be how Desmond Hatchett has reportedly enjoyed some jail time. A court has the power to impose fines and jail terms upon a finding of contempt of court via a failure to pay ordered child support. But this is usually a last resort, as jailing a parent (at the expense of time they could/should be working) doesn't necessarily help with child support payments.

For what it's worth, Hatchett has indicated his procreation days are over, "'I'm done. I'll say I'm done,' he said." Apparently residents in Knoxville aren't taking his word, as one story suggested that many "called for him to be castrated."

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