Child support scofflaws face state action

Since July 1, action has been taken against 20 noncustodial parents.
Sunday, November 9, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:20 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Parents who neglect their child support can now fear for the security of their professional licenses.

“If noncustodial parents don’t pay what is owed their children, the state has an obligation to take whatever legal action it can to recover that money,” Attorney General Jay Nixon said in a press release Friday.

Columbia osteopathic physician Gary David Eaton owes more than $25,000 in back child support, the release states. It also states that he was sued last week to have his medical license suspended.

Eaton did not respond to a demand letter issued in early September, asking him to comply with his child support judgment, the release states. In February 2002, he had not paid $6,000 in child support, and by August 2003 his back child support had grown to $23,000, said Scott Holste, press secretary for Nixon. Eaton has 60 days to pay his overdue child support, the release states. No telephone listing was available for Eaton to get his comment.

Nixon’s office took responsibility for child support litigation July 1, Holste said. Since that time, Nixon’s office has taken legal action against 20 noncustodial parents, including three medical doctors, three chiropractors, three barbers and a professional wrestler, he said.

Employers of delinquent parents also can be held responsible for withholding child support from pay, the release states. Since July, 17 Missouri businesses have been sued for not enforcing withholding orders, according to earlier press releases from July.

Nixon’s office has issued 130 demand letters asking delinquent parents to pay their child support, Holste said. Overall, he’s seen a response to the demand letters, Holste said.

Holste said he hopes the suit will encourage prompt payment of back child support.

“Ideally, they’ll pay up,” he said. “It’s certainly preferable to following through with suspension procedures.”

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