Homeless Man Jailed for More Than a Year For Failing to Pay Child Support — Despite the Fact that the Court and Prosecutor Knew He Was Not the Biological Father

180px-Prison_cellFrank Hatley has been sitting in a Georgia jail for over a year for failing to reimburse the state for all the public assistance his “son” over the past two decades. The problem is that the homeless man is not the father of the boy and both the Court and the prosecutors knew that he was no the biological father than they threw him in jail.

Hatley’s case reflects the often draconian bureaucratic system facing parents in disputes over child support. What is interesting is that, despite tests proving that he was not the biological father, Hatley continued to pay child support as ordered until he lost his job and became homeless. Even after living on the street, Hatley made some payments out of his public support checks.

Hatley has been in jail since June 25, 2008. His problems began when he had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison in the 1980s, who had a baby boy and proclaimed Hatley the father. They were never married and broke up after the boy, Travon, was born in 1987. In 1989, Morrison filed for support from the state, which in turn sought reimbursement from Hadley.

In 2000, tests proven conclusively that Hatley was not the father. However, the system continued to treat him as the father and demanded payment or jail. He continued to comply with orders to pay support, even from his unemployment insurance.

He never filed to ask the state Office of Child Support Services to relieve him of his obligations. However, both prosecutors and the court knew he was not the father when he was jailed, according to reports. Georgia lawyer Charles Reddick, working as a special assistant state attorney general, wrote the order requiring Hatley to pay the outstanding $16,398 and Cook County Superior Court Judge Dane Perkins acknowledged in that Aug. 21, 2001 order that Hatley was not Travon’s father. No one seems to have felt any compulsion to take affirmative steps to rectify the situation. After the order, Hatley paid off another $6000 but then lost his job. Reddick then prepared another order and Perkins signed it: finding him in contempt and sending him to jail for not paying more.

Obviously, Hatley might have been able to file for a change with the Department. However, he is homeless and had little money. He had a history of trying to pay regardless of the fact that he should not have been required to pay anything in the first place. What is most disturbing is that lawyers and a judge did not seem to view this as their problem to address. Everyone was on autopilot in the case — issuing motions and orders without any appearance of concern over the obvious injustice to Hatley.

This case is not unique in the jailing of fathers for failing to support children of other men, here.

For the full story, click here.

26 thoughts on “Homeless Man Jailed for More Than a Year For Failing to Pay Child Support — Despite the Fact that the Court and Prosecutor Knew He Was Not the Biological Father”

  1. Having a child out of wedlock use to be a criminal matter with the right to a trial by jury. Was he have a right to a trial by jury? Did she face fraud charges for naming the wrong man? Nine innocent go free lest one innocent suffer – Lord Blackstone.

  2. Paul,

    I’ll agree that the states are paid extra to collect child support….and that some of the salaries for the judge’s are paid for by the extra fees…. But can you point me to an article or something that says the judge’s are paid extra…..

    I do agree that this is one of the issues with the unified collection of child support by the federal government…… It will be and has been taken over in a large part by the federal government….. The only thing left really to the states is the allocation of property in a divorce or separation….. Everything else has become federalized……

    1. Anonymously yours,
      I have documents from MA and NH attesting to the monies paid to the courts. I also have a statement(appended here) from the chief legal aide to the collection agency in NH, altho it’s a pretty old document and the numbers are quite low.
      Testimony of Charlotte S. Guyer
      Divisionof ChildSupport Services
      Office of Program Support
      Department of Health and Human Services
      House BiII1593-FN
      Codification of Cooperative Agreement between
      Department of Health and Human Services
      and Judiciary
      I would like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to appear and
      testify concerning House Bill1593, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Department has concerns about this bills and
      recommends the Committee report House Bill 1593 as inexpedient to legislate.
      Since 1987 the Department of Hea1th and Human Services through its
      child support officehas had a cooperative agreement with the judiciary providing
      for the timely filing and hearing of child support matters. The agreement is
      subject to review and authorization by the Governor and the Executive Council.
      The acceptance and expenditure of federal funds provided in the agreement are
      authorized, as well. by the Governor and the Executive Council.
      The child support office. now known as the Division of Child Support
      Services ‘Division”), is responsible for administering a statewide child support establishment and enforcement program under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. As part of that program it is required by federal mandate to expedite the processing of child support actions so that support orders are established within timeframes specified by federal regulation. The terms of the cooperative agreement require the judiciary to schedule marital masters to hear the Division’s cases in the superior court and-in the family division within ninety days of a request for a hearing. The judiciary and the Division monitor the time spent on
      Division cases by the masters and by related court staff. The judiciary is
      reimbursed with federal funds for a portion of the expenses of the marital master
      program. The estimated reimbursementforFY98is $790.000.00. <E
      House Bill 1593 proposes to codify the existing cooperative agreement as
      a newchapter,RSA161-1. The substance of the bill is the language of the
      existing agreement. The Department is concerned that codification wiHrestrict
      its ability to manage the state chUdsupport program effectively. Should federat
      requirements change, or opportunities for increased federal funding arise. the
      Department needs to be abre to respond without pursuing an amendment of the
      statute. A lack of flexibitity may result in a reduction in reimbursements or a
      delay in receipt of the federal funds.
      MAY-~~-~~ ~~:6~ ~~ .. …,j" , , ,e" r-.Y.J-.-I
      —- In addition. the Department does not want to be required by statute to use
      existing procedures! if more efficient procedures can be used. For example. the
      marital masters now keep a handwritten log of the number of Divisioncases they
      hear and the amount of time they spend on them. If the judiciary develops a
      computer program to monitor cases the Department would want to be able to
      amend the contract to adopt the less labor-intensive monitoring system.
      Passage of House Bill 1593 would add time-consuming steps to the
      negotiation and management of the cooperative agreement. and would involve
      the legislature in details of an agreement already subject to Governor and
      Council approval. I urge the Committee to vote the bill"inexpedient to legislate."
      Respectfully submitted,
      , .
      /, ~ .,' ~ V{ …,
      l; t' ;.1; . .I ~J0( . .'-{,,{1<' ..,
      , \ ~'.' ,(. I / <–
      Chirlotte S. Guyer
      ChiefStaffAttorney .,..'
      Division of Child Support Services
      Department of Health & Human Services
      (603) 271-4759 .

  3. This situation is not at all unusual. The state is paid for collecting child support by the federal govt., and the judges are paid extra by the child support collection agency. Greed takes precedence over the best interests of the child, or the rights of the accused, every time. The only value judges see in fatherhood is the support check they write.

  4. so what can a person do????? work & be homeless so you can get your whole check taken?? how do u keep a job when you are homeless can’t be clean. are there lawyers that will help or you are just^$#@. he wants to do his part but how do you live?

  5. Well, this institutional social madness has caught up with me too on this very same topic, since my above post July 21, 2009.

    I am now entrenched in a custody lawsuit, only I know this is my child and I want this child in my life as well as she wants to be in mine.

    Now fully immersed in the dangerous environs of Family Court, I see and have been victim to the blatant sex discrimination, and regular Constitutional violations that occur there daily. The court actors are so used to it, like fish in water, they no longer see it as anything remarkable.
    And it is dangerous, because whereas before you could just live your life reasonably transparently from the system, now you are on the chopping block and literally on the edge of always being arrested and being sent to jail, for non-criminal behavior.

    I was charged with ‘neglect’ for letting my child have soda, for bringing her to McDonalds, and for weighing her to track her development. (I also measured her height, but that seemed to have not been a problem with the child cops, or maybe they just missed that fact.)

    I could be wrong, and now am just seeing it everywhere because I am now in it, but I think it has become a social morass of tinderbox proportions, just about now. Not that it hasn’t been happening a lot before, but now the extent and quantity of people being officially mistreated has come to one of those breaking point thresholds.

    Being, and becoming, an activist on this, I am launching several campaigns to fight this official tyranny, via lawsuits, meetups, yahoo support groups, expository videos, etc.

    So far . . .



  6. This man has become paranoid and now thinks that there is a conspiracy against him.

    I am surprised Al Qaeda or Hamas have not recruited him

  7. This kind of thing is very common. I have seen many very strange situations with friends who have been divorced men. One accused the father of sexual abuse so that the father would not be allowed to see the child and know that she was a crack addict who would hide the crack while driving in the childs ears. Fortunately, he was exonerated. For poor people with no means or education, it is impossible to fight these proceedings. Even when the man is the father there may be many “double-bind” or “catch 22” situations imposed on him. I know someone who has been repeatedly imprisoned, license has been suspended for years, who has spent most of his adult life homeless or in jail since divorce. He comes from the foster care system, has no education, and everytime he got a job or challenged the amount (a number seemingly pulled from thin air, it was more than his income) he went back to jail, even though he was paying. The arrearage continued to grow as he sat in jail. With no living family to help him, he was released from jail to be homeless, having lost his job while in jail. It’s hard to go to work when you have nowhere to shower, no license, or money. His ex has used the system as a method to abuse him, while she has lived very comfortably. She manipulates him into giving money directly to her, then denies receipt of it. He is so afraid of the courts that he refuses to go. She dropped his son off with him one day a couple years ago, and the son has lived with him most of the time since, but they suspended his license for arrearage while he was solely supporting his son. She refuses to advise the courts that the son lives with him and not her. This man has become paranoid and now thinks that there is a conspiracy against him. Some people do not have the mental, emotional, or functional skills to build lives in between jailings. Not everyone is on the same ground in functioning abilities. What a wonderful system we have.

  8. “After all, the Left informs us that terrorism is a product of injustice.”

    How do you stop a terrorist? Buy him a Mercedes.

  9. Should we be surprised if one of these men chooses to join Al Qaeda or some other Islamic terrorist group.

    After all, the Left informs us that terrorism is a product of injustice.

  10. In the words of Marvin Gaye, “Makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands!” Damn shame.

  11. I’m starting to have some sympathy for those extremist christians who go on about the coming rapture based on “end of days” signs. This sort of story is apocalyptically absurd. The cuckolded man in debtors prison for a son he doesn’t have.

  12. joe,

    said: “we looked at a case like this in contracts class as well. These rulings encourage men to never even begin to care for children if they have any doubts about paternity. We need MORE fathers in our society, not less.”


    I could not agree with your statement more. However, look at the rules of procedures and cases where the issue is default. some men are led to believe that they are the fathers so they never fight it. Some never fight it because they don’t trust the system. Some are incarcerated yada yada yada.

    Once a default is entered it is harder than hell to get it overturned especially one that likes to keep it calendar cleaned.
    They are the fathers.

  13. we looked at a case like this in contracts class as well. These rulings encourage men to never even begin to care for children if they have any doubts about paternity. We need MORE fathers in our society, not less.

  14. Fr33d0m 1, July 16, 2009 at 8:53 am

    You need an editor!


    Me two. How about ewe?

  15. This happens more often than people can imagine. In some states once a default is entered you are the person obligated to support this child until death. Oh and that has been alleged to have occurred as well.

  16. I really do think it’s time we all got together and mourned the passing of that dear old unbiased friend, Common Sense, who seemed to finally just give up the will to live a few years ago.

    Unfortunately, his half brother and sister – I Don’t Give a Shit and Screw You – both survive him and appear to be stronger and healthier by the day.

Comments are closed.