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Rhode Island man denied records for child support claim

When going through a divorce, and even after everything is finalized, difficulties and challenges can occur throughout and after the process. Seeking child support can create unexpected issues for both parties. When the husband or the wife defaults on child support payments, it not only creates a hardship on the ex-spouse that is seeking the money for the child, but also, this can create additional conflicts and cause the parties to spend even more time at court.

A Rhode Island father attempted to file a petition with the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement because his former wife was delinquent on child support payments. From 1987 to 2000, the man had resided in Virginia. He was also divorced and had child support decrees in Virginia as well, so it made sense for him to file the petition in the state of Virginia. DCSE was almost nine months late filing the man's petition, which also deprived him of more child support payments. The man requested all documents pertaining to him, his son, his ex-wife and his application for child support. He filed the request under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act in 2008.

Virginia turned down his request because he is not a citizen of Virginia, and the VFOIA does not apply to him. He argued that the clause that contends that the law at issue is citizens-only violates Article IV of the U.S. Constitution, which states, "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states." The father will have his case heard in front of the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of February this year to determine whether a state is allowed to limit its release of public records to only its citizens or residents.

Child support is often crucial in divorce cases, especially when one parent has sole custody over the child. When the child support payments are delinquent, this causes additional hardships on the child and the parent providing the sole care. Failure to pay child support could lead to penalties and additional long court proceedings, which can be stressful for everyone involved.

Source: abajournal.com, "Supreme Court weighs whether Virginia can deny public records to noncitizens," David L. Hudson Jr., Feb. 1, 2013

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