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Dad bad: Papas pretending to be poor to avoid paying child support

Dad bad: Papas pretending to be poor to avoid paying child support

Breaking up is hard to do; more so with divorces. One would think that a parent will want the best for their children even after a divorce. Yet, despite US divorce rates steadily decreasing, one can still hear of stories of awful parents — more often than not, fathers — who would do anything to avoid paying child support.

The following are stories of fathers behaving poorly — that is, they pretended to be poor in order to get out of paying child support. And while none of them hail from Washington state, don’t be shocked if one of your neighbors turns out to be a baddie daddy.

The CEO’s dirty trick

Take the case of this CEO who clearly had the means to provide child support but refused to do so. He wanted to claim he was too poor to afford child support, something his lawyer advised him not to do. Still, on trial day, the CEO walked into the courtroom looking unkempt, wearing filthy work clothes, and claiming that he was a landscaper who didn’t earn enough to make ends meet. But the judge saw through the ruse. Lesson: don’t go against your attorney’s advice, otherwise, you’ll be mowed down in court.

Millionaire with minimum maintenance

Across the pond, British dads aren’t above behaving badly. They may call it “child maintenance” in England, but avoiding it is depressingly common over there, too. That’s because of a change in British laws. In 2012, the British government chose to exclude assets, which generate notional income, in determining the financial capabilities of the non-custodial parent in a divorce.

This is how a London multimillionaire who has £5.2 million in property and pension funds was able to convince the courts that he could only pay £7 a week for his son. He claimed that his only source of income was his state pension. Meanwhile, his notional income from his assets allowed him to live a lavish life while his son received only a pittance in child maintenance.

Luckily, a High Court judge found the whole situation disturbing and ordered the father to provide £20,600 for his son’s various expenses. The magistrate described the “relatively modest” amount as “manifestly proportionate and reasonable.” The judge is now seeking to change the rules on how child maintenance is calculated.

The (spiritually) bankrupt husband

Divorce can bring out the ugly side of people. But if you’re thinking of taking revenge on your ex-spouse, beware. It can backfire on you, like what happened to Steven K. Zinnel, a Sacramento, California businessman.

In 1999, Zinnel and his wife broke up on not-so-friendly terms; she got custody of their two sons. The businessman then filed for bankruptcy, declaring that the divorce, along with some business mishaps, had wiped out his fortunes. Turns out, he lied. Zinnel hid his wealth so that he could pay less for child support. His lawyer (and eventually lover) Derian Eidson set up a shell company to disguise his assets and investments and keep them undeclared.

In 2001, he even emailed his ex-wife to rub it in her face that he’d filed for bankruptcy in order to deprive her and their sons of any financial support from him.

But Zinnel took things too far. He called on the FBI to investigate his ex-wife, claiming she’d attempted to illegally access his health insurance information. Upon hearing his ex-wife’s side, the FBI became suspicious of Zinnel’s bankruptcy claims and investigated him instead.

In 2013, Zinnel was found guilty of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. He was sentenced to 17 years and 8 months in prison the following year. Derian Eidson was convicted of money laundering conspiracy and attempted money laundering. She was immediately prohibited from practicing law in California.

Divorce can be a difficult affair, especially if children are involved. Even if both parties are willing to settle amicably, they will still need legal guidance to keep things in order. That’s why it’s important to have competent counsel when facing the legal system. Should you need legal assistance, especially with family law and personal injury cases, then our attorneys at Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams will be more than happy to represent you. Schedule an appointment now.