These days Atlanta has one answer for every problem Georgia faces.
Yesterday, I heard a presentation extolling the merit of yet another one. It’s called a “Problem Solving Court.” It is a warm and fuzzy approach to encouraging parents to pay overdue child support.
I realize that some people that dearly love their children struggle to pay court-ordered support. Illness, job loss, and other issues force a temporary stoppage. Everyone agrees that these parents don’t deserve to go to jail for non-payment.
But, for way too many parents, supporting their children is a low financial priority. I can’t imagine that the Problem Solving Court would be effective for them.
I closed my eyes and tried to imagine a session of The Problem Solving Court.
The Judge: “I’m so glad that y’all joined us today for court. But, I’m missing Robert. Does anyone know where he is today?”
Sam: “He had to be in Mental Health Court this morning. I told him he should come to our court, but he likes the muffins in Mental Health Court better.”
Jack: “That reminds me, Judge. I’m gonna have to miss court next week. I’ve got kids in California and I’ll be flying out there for Problem Solving Court. And, can we have court 30 minutes early next week? I’ve got to be in Drug Court in Alabama by noon.”
Judge, reaching into a closet and retrieving a guitar: “I’m sure we can work that out. Now come gather in a circle on the floor. We’re going to sing a song entitled, ‘I’m Not a Dead-Beat, I’m Just Misunderstood.’”
Judge, putting his guitar away as the song ends: “Now on your way out today, pick up some flyers by the door. They list employers that have agreed to give your job applications preference over the applications of parents who try to support their children.”
I’ve got a better idea. Let a judge distinguish between parents who would love to support their children and those who don’t give a hoot. Draft the second group into the armed services and teach them how to become real men and women. And take the child support out of their pay.
I know. I’m not in tune with the former hippies that have all the answers.
Maybe we can create an accountability court to cure folks like me.
Ballard is district attorney for the Griffin Judicial District, which includes Fayette, Upson, Spalding and Pike counties.