HOUSTON – A Houston father is surrendering himself Tuesday morning to spend the next six months in jail, because of mistake his employer made over child support payments.
Clifford Hall recounted telling his 12-year-old son ‘goodbye’ saying, “I told him I’m gonna fix it. That is it.”
“The money was withheld from me, they didn’t send it off for some strange reason,” Hall explained.
Hall said he had no idea there were any problems until his ex-wife sued him in 2013. That’s when he went to his bosses at AT&T, who later admitted it made the clerical error and Hall brought it to their attention.
In half a year, Hall paid the $2,000 owed but a recent change in the law says that’s not good enough.
“The law says you can longer cure an error with payment. The judge has the discretion to send you to jail,” Hall’s appeals attorney Tyesha Elam said.
That judge, Lisa Millard in the 310th Family Court, tells KHOU 11 News the employer error was never entered as evidence. In fact, AT&T’s affidavit didn’t exist then.
What she saw was a father who paid up, right before his trial date and had a previous history of late child support payment. An appeals court upheld the judge’s ruling and sent him to jail, where he can’t work and will fall behind in child support.
His attorneys want the law changed. They want a parent notified before being sued.
“You got five days to pay me or I’m gonna file an action against you,” Elam suggested.
She adds if that parent pays in time, then jail is removed as a punishment. That would be too late though for Hall.
When asked if Hall wants his son to visit him in jail, he replied through tear, “No.”
His attorneys are now appealing this case in federal court.