Due to a clerical error, Texas father Clifford Hall received a bill stating he was nearly $3,000 overdue in his child support payment. An error in the automated withdrawal system had caused a shortage. When he discovered the imbalance, Hall was quick to repay the amount, and even paid an additional $1,000 to balance his debt. Despite the repayment, Hall is serving six months in jail.
Attorney in Child Support Case Thought “This one will be easy”
His attorney, Tyesha Elam explained, “I assumed as soon as he brought me the receipt catching him up as well as the letter advising him of the overpayment, I thought, ‘oh this one will be easy.’ I’m thinking, ‘let me let the opposing counsel know and we’ll be done with this matter.'”
“But the opposing counsel informed me that she wasn’t willing to settle the case. She wanted $3,500 in attorney’s fees and she was confident from this judge that she could get it. So she refused to settle. So we had to move forward.”
Texas Law and Child Support
A Texas law stipulates that overdue child support can lead to jail time, Elam explained. “As of June 14, 2013, in the state of Texas, a person can get behind on their child support, show up to court, paid up, and still go to jail. The maximum sentence is 6 months in jail, and that is exactly what Mr. Hall was sentenced to.”
Jail Time Not in Best Interest in Child Support
Elam was unable to appeal the judge’s decision and his sentence began on January 21, 2014. Hall was shocked when he heard the verdict. “My mouth just dropped. I’m looking around–I looked at my attorney like, ‘she’s joking, she can’t be serious,'” he explained. “We’re just sitting there like, ‘wow, I’m going to jail for six months…How is this in my son’s best interest? That doesn’t even make sense.”
Hall is of course emotional when speaking about his son. “Before all of this, we had a great relationship. He’s a typical 11-year-old boy. He reminds me of myself in so many ways.”
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