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Michael A. Johnson
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Arizona uses social media to out child support non-payers

| Jan 21, 2016 | Child Support |

Arizonan fathers who have outstanding child support obligations may be surprised to see themselves called out on Twitter. In January 2016, the state’s Department of Economic Security took to the social media platform to publicly reveal the names, photographs and overdue child support debt amounts of men who failed to pay their bills.

According to reports, the social media posts are intended to target Arizona parents who account for part of the state’s total $1.74 billion in overdue child support. Gov. Doug Ducey said that the agency would begin posting the images, names and amounts to Twitter accompanied by the hashtag “#deadbeat” in an attempt to get delinquent parents to pay, but opponents said that the plan was of dubious merit.

One member of the Arizona House of Representatives noted that outing parents on Twitter wasn’t guaranteed to cause them to pay. He also cited the possibility that some non-payers could become the victims of vigilante justice after being called out and the idea that bringing their cases into the public sphere might simply make resolution more complex. Observers point to the instances of the many parents who lack employment and simply don’t possess the resources to keep up with their monthly payments as evidence that the tactic is unlikely to work.

Child support enforcement can take many forms, and these may have a number of impacts on an individual’s life. In addition to placing serious strain on parents’ existing financial resources, untenable support agreements or unconventional enforcement practices such as public shaming may reduce the likelihood that people can maintain employment. Government officials who attempt to utilize these tactics could simply worsen already dire situations and jeopardize people’s familial relationships. Parents may find it advisable to avoid these situations by working with an attorney to seek a modification of future amounts.

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