Ruling was narrow, for practical purposes. Those who fail to pay can still be pursued.
State court ruling won’t end accountability
Almost everyone obligated to pay child support can still be held accountable for nonpayment after the Minnesota Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Larry Nelson case (“Unpaid child support not same as no care,” Feb. 13). Anyone who doesn’t can be the object of a civil contempt proceeding to secure compliance with a court order to pay child support. In civil contempt proceedings, a party faces confinement in jail as the sanction for noncompliance.
In contempt proceedings, a hearing is conducted where the nonperforming party is given the opportunity to show that they complied or reasons they failed to do so. The court must find that there has been a failure to comply and whether confinement will aid compliance. The nonperforming party is given the ability to avoid confinement and can do so through compliance or a good-faith effort to conform.
In Nelson, the Supreme Court recognized that criminal prosecutions were intended for what it called “profoundly delinquent parents” who ignored multiple obligations. It characterized these as “egregious instances of parental neglect.” As a result, criminal prosecutions for nonsupport are rare, and the Nelson case will have little impact on the usual enforcement of child-support orders.
The good news is that civil contempt proceedings have been and will remain a successful means to obtain compliance when parties are balking at paying child support.
MICHAEL DAUB, Excelsior
Obsession with tests inhibits young people
While many educators and parents will celebrate the news that the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests has doubled in Minnesota in the last 10 years, they should really be worrying about the insidious implications of excessive standardized testing, including everything from the AP test to the ACT. Time spent teaching to and studying for exams that measure how well a student can memorize material and use tricks is not going to benefit young people in the long run. It’s amazing that even though many agree that creativity will be the most valuable asset in the future job market, we are still encouraging our students to put aside personal growth and deep thinking to make time for the regurgitation of limited curricula.
ALYSSHA MAES, Eden Prairie
Managers ought not shy from the hiring ‘risk’
A Feb. 13 commentary proposes a $4 minimum wage for hiring the long-term unemployed so that, assuming the government subsidizes these hires, employers assume less risk when hiring the long-term unemployed. However, risk is inherent to management positions that oversee hiring. That’s why hiring managers are usually paid more than the workers they hire.
If employers really wish to help the long-term unemployed, they should give them interviews and treat them like any other job candidate rather than waiting for the government to subsidize the risk.
PATRICK HARRINGTON, Minneapolis
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.