Wednesday, April 21, 1999

State sued over
late support checks

By Craig Gima


After waiting for more than two hours in a packed room at the Child Support Enforcement Agency with people lined up outside, Ann Kemp got to speak to someone and was told: Yes, the state had her $1,000 child-support payment, but no, she could not get her money right away.

Kemp said it took two months for her to get her check rather than the two days required by state law. In the meantime, she ran up her credit card debt to pay for rent, food and other expenses related to her 5-year-old daughter Lindsay. "I thought it was appalling," Kemp said. "Something needed to be done. It's affecting all of these people."

So Kemp hired an attorney and filed suit against the state seeking interest on the late payment.

Yesterday, her attorneys asked a judge to allow other people who have suffered because of delayed child-support payments to join a class-action lawsuit.

Michael Meaney, agency administrator, said the state receives 1.5 percent interest on the agency's bank account, adding that the income offsets charges and fees that the federal government assesses.

Meaney said Kemp's suit was filed just as the state was converting to its new computer system. He insists the agency makes it a priority to get the checks out on time.

Since the computer switchover, the state has increased the percentage of checks going out within two days from 75 percent at the end of last year to more than 92 percent last month, he said.

Kemp attorney Christopher Ferrera said more than 200 people have called trying to join the suit.

"I think we need to put a stop to what they're doing," said Linda Chock, who has received late checks. "The people who are suffering are the children."

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