Joseph Stroup, a man dubbed “America’s Most Deadbeat Dad” for owing $560,000 in child support, was recently arrested after being on the run for almost 20 years.
Deadbeat Dad Owes $560,000 in Child Support
In 1989 Stroup was ordered to pay $100 a month in child support for his four children. That amount was eventually lowered to $14 a month after he said he was unemployed and medically disabled. But a U.S. court discovered in 1996 that Stroup was heading a successful online business, which he sold for more than $2 million. After hearing of that, the child support order was modified and updated to take into account the amount of unreported income.
A warrant for Stroup’s arrest was issued in July of 1998 – two years after he stopped paying child support.
Joseph Stroup was detained in Calgary, Canada, 20 years after the warrant was issued. He had been living under the name Joop Cousteau.
Stroup was eventually brought to justice— but not by conventional detective work. He was finally found because of a cherry in a drink he ordered from a restaurant he regularly visited.
Scott Winograd, former general manager of the restaurant described how “One day out of the blue, [Stroup] ordered a Cherry Coke, and he wanted eight maraschino cherries in it, which is just bizarre. That just doesn’t happen.
“About a minute later, he calls the server over and he’s clutching his jaw and says, ‘I bit into a pit and broke some dental work,’ and he holds this pit up.”
The staff at the restaurant became suspicious, as maraschino cherries generally do not have pits.
The next day, according to Winograd, Stroup brought in forms that he claimed were from his dental office. The forms “looked sketchy because it was all handwritten forms… It didn’t look official by any means,” said Winograd.
Fearing Stroup would decide to sue for damages, Winograd decided it would be smart to Google Stroup. It was at that point that Winograd found an incriminating Facebook page from one of his sons, to whom he owed child support. Eventually, Winograd stumbled upon the Office of the Inspector General’s list of deadbeat dads – with Stroup’s name listed at the top.
After Winograd alerted the authorities and Stroup was detained by the Canadian Border Services Agency and transported to the U.S. on February 15. He is in custody in Detroit, awaiting trial for child support violations.
Child support is a monthly payment that parents pay to help cover the costs associated with raising a child, such as education, health care, and after-school activity costs. Just as every child is different, the amount that needs to be paid is different, and will be based on the child’s needs, in addition to the ability of the parent to pay, in addition to some set legal guidelines.
Typically, the custodial parent – the parent who cares for the child most of the time – receives the child support payments. And the non-custodial parent – the parent that spends less parenting time – typically makes the payments. It is assumed that because the custodial parent is in legal charge most of the time, that they are already directly spending money on the child. A court is also able to order both parents to pay child support.
In cases where one parent makes more money than the other, such as in the case of Tomlinson and Jungwirth, it makes sense that Tomlinson will need to pay child support – his net worth is estimated to be $23 million.
Usually, child support is paid until the child turns 18, though there are some exceptions. Exceptions include: the child marries, joins the military, or becomes self-supporting. Other times, the support may continue until the child turns 19 if the child is still in high school and lives with a parent. Support can also be extended past the age of 19 if parents agree, or if the child is unable to become self-supporting due to a disability.
Child Support Guidelines in California
While each case will be considered separately and individually, the payment amount a parent must pay is based on California’s child support guidelines.
The guidelines follow a mathematical formula and are based on a number of factors, which we will discuss. You can calculate a rough amount by using California’s Guidelines Child Support Calculator. A court presumes that the amount given by the California’s Guidelines Child Support Calculator is appropriate, but because there are so many additional factors that can weigh into a child support decision, that amount can be unfair. Because of this, it’s advised that you work with a family law attorney that can help you get a fair amount.
In cases with special circumstances, where parents have different time-sharing arrangements than the typical, child support decisions can be difficult to determine. Examples of these special circumstances include: when the parents have equal time-sharing, but one parent has a much lower or higher percentage of income; where the child has special medical needs. In cases like these, a court will need to weigh all these special factors.
Parents are also able to pay more, if it is agreed, and also agree for one spouse to pay less. Regardless of the decision, a court will need to approve the final amount. It’s important to note that a court will always take the child’s best interest into account. This factor will always play into the decision regarding the amount of support payments, so if a couple decides to pay less, then the parents will also need to be able to prove the child’s needs will be met. Paying less support is not an option for parents who have applied for or receive public assistance. Instead, a parent who receives public assistance may agree to support payments that are at or above the amount provided by the guidelines. Additionally, the local child support services agency must also agree to the lesser amount.
Calculating Child Support Payments
To calculate what a court will want you to pay in child support, you’ll first need both parents’ net disposable income. This is the difference between gross income and what counts as deductions for child support purposes. You can either consult the California Guideline Child Support Calculator User Guide, or work with a family law attorney to determine what can be deducted.
Gross income is income from the following: salaries, commissions, unemployment, spousal support, and social security benefits. You might even need to include lottery winnings, depending on the amount. You are able to exclude child and spousal support payments actually paid and money from public assistance programs.
After determining gross income, deduct state and federal income taxes, mandatory union dues, and health insurance premiums, among other things. You can either consult the California Guideline Child Support Calculator User Guide, or work with a family law attorney to determine what can be deducted.
You’ll also need to know the following:
- number of children who need support
- custody (time-share) arrangement
- both parents’ tax liabilities
- whether a parent is already supporting children from another relationship
- child’s health insurance expenses
- both parents’ mandatory retirement contributions and other job-related expenses, and
- all other relevant costs (health care, day care, travel, etc)
Remember that a court will require either one or both parents to contribute to the child’s health care and child care. A court also has the discretion to require additional payment for the child’s education or special needs, as well as for a parent’s travel expenses for visiting the child.
Remember that after you have calculated your child support payment, that this is just an estimate until a court reviews it and approves it. A family law attorney is a great way to ease this process, as it can be overwhelming to calculate.
You Must Pay Child Support
Every parent that is ordered to pay child support, must do so. A parent that avoids paying by refusing to work or working less very rarely gets away with it. A court can “impute” income. This means that the court will look at factors like employment history, education, and training and come up with an amount of income that a parent should be earning.
Modifications to the Amount of Child Support
Even if a child support payment has been agreed to, it can be modified. This is usually only granted if there has been a significant change in financial or time-share circumstances.
Such circumstances include: job loss, increase in income, or a shift in how much parents are spending with the child. Other reasons include: when a parent has another child with a different partner or when a parent has an extended illness or goes to jail.
When a modification request is made, the court will consider both parents’ current financial situations and time-share. Sometimes when parent’s income has decreased, that parent’s child support payment goes up due to the time-share factor. Child support payments tend to increase when a parent’s percentage of time-share decreases. A court will need to recalculate time-share amounts in addition to the changes in income.
A Family Law Attorney
But when it comes to the actual legal process of determining child support and payment, you’ll want to work with a skilled family law attorney. There are a number of things that a family law attorney will be able to advise you on, including: child support, spousal support, marital property division, and other things. Working with a skilled attorney can help ensure you get a fair case. For advice on divorce, child custody determinations, setting up a co-parenting agreement, dividing marital property, and spousal support you need the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA. Schedule a consultation today.
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