She asked the Fatherz in the Hood dads whether any of them had known they could check on their own cases. There was silence in the room.
“This is a huge service we provide,” Suttle told the Miami Herald. “I want people to know what’s going on in their own intimate life of their children, their money and their time.”
A lot of Suttle’s time representing dads is spent cleaning up errors on behalf of the state, which can take away a dad’s driver’s license or passport, or seize his bank account, for supposed non-payment. And it can be done without ever even going to court — the state lets fathers know with just a letter in the mail.
“I have about six clients right now who have paid on time and perfectly for over a decade, and still their driver’s license has been suspended and/or their bank account has been seized,” she said.
The problem usually lies in the state’s computer system, she said.
“It shows old debt, so the computer doesn’t recognize his compliance,” Suttle said.
In another case, Suttle is helping a dad get back access to his bank account after the state took it away. The dad took over full-time care of his kid after the child’s mother moved to another state. Despite letters to the state from the mother that showed she would waive her right to the child support while the dad takes care of the kid, the state came after the dad, anyway.
“I would say every single one of my cases has an error like that, bigger or smaller,” Suttle said.
She takes pains to point that out, because she doesn’t take-on cases of deadbeat dads.
“I don’t represent anybody who doesn’t take care of his kids” she told the Fatherz in the Hood Group. “I represent good dads.”
After the session, she invited the dads to her truck. She handed out diapers and wipes, and logs for fathers to track how much time they spend with their kids.
Fred Decade, 20, doesn’t have any kids of his own, and the night’s talk convinced him he didn’t want any, any time soon.
“I learned not to have kids,” he said. “It will make you go broke.”
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