For decades, California state officials have been trying to get some children to pay for the debts of their parents who received aid from cash assistance programs from years past. These are programs aimed at helping the state’s neediest families.
This is caused by accounting errors of county administered cash assistance programs. One such cash assistance program is CalWorks, which provides qualified families with the necessary aid to sustain basic life essentials. For whatever reason, entities like CalWorks have been prone to over-pay their recipients usually because of mistaken paperwork and clumsy accounting errors. This problem is particularly troubling, though because the program’s consistently suffer severe budget problems.
As a result of these accounting errors, cash assistance providers are now seeking collection of the overpayments. However, the problem is that county officials are having trouble tracking down the actual recipients of these overpayments. Therefore, desperately some instances they have resorted to seeking collection from the children of the recipients. Our Santa Rosa family law attorney recognizes that it is not legally sound to hold a minor responsible for their parents’ debts.
According to an article from The Los Angeles Times, the practices adopted by these cash assistance programs have faced intense scrutiny.
For example, Clarence Ayers has experienced the negative effects of this collections process first-hand. Mr. Ayers provided support for his great-granddaughter by covering the child’s expenses from his monthly stipend from CalWorks. Last summer, Ayers’ CalWorks payment was reduced by 10% because the public assistance entity had mistakenly disbursed $10,000 to the child’s mother and grandfather. Essentially, as Ayers states, “She [his great-granddaughter] was being punished for something she never did.”
Recognizing that his great-granddaughter’s legal rights should be protected given that it would be unfair to hold her, a minor, responsible for the debts of her mother and grandfather, Mr. Ayers filed a lawsuit to end this unjust collections process implemented by public assistance entities.
Fortunately, Mr. Ayers case was successful.. The lawsuit is currently in the settlement phase, but the California Department of Social Services has stated that refunds will be provided for any unfair withholdings since January 6, 2012. Further as a result of the suitcounties were instructed to stop collecting on past overpayments from adults whose families received assistance when they were children. This direct order circumvents California state law that requires county officials to try to recover overpayment of funds if a family receives an excess of $35 or more. The state law allows the option of county officials to track down other household members, which gives them the choice of unfairly burdening the children of the recipients of the funds with the debt. Our Santa Rosa family law attorney appreciates efforts being made that rightfully relinquish young people from debts that they are not responsible for.
As this situation demonstrates, family law issues can get quite complex. The law treats family members differently under the law than others, often leading to confusing (and sometimes unjust) legal actions. No matter what, our Santa Rosa family attorneys understand that certain rights must be protected in order to avoid one family member facing unfair legal burdens. If you are in need of legal help related to family issues, it is important to seek the advice of a Northern California family law attorney to ensure you are not taken advantage of by others or the even the government.
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