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The US Bankruptcy Reform Act, S. 420
Financial security for "women and their children"?

Senator Biden's congratulatory speech on the passage of Bill S. 420 in the US Senate


This page is related to US Senator Wellstone's submission to the Senate in regard to clamping down on "deadbeat dads" wanting to escape their child support obligations by declaring bankruptcy.

Woe to those who lend to the eternally-blind 
Enlightenment's heavenly torch! 
It does not shine for him, it only can ignite 
And puts to ashes towns and lands.

—Schiller, Song of the Bell

Before or after you read the rest of the information on this page you should make sure to read this article: Joe Biden's Weird Sense of Chivalry (May 3, 2006, by Carey Roberts)

The US Bankruptcy Reform Act, Bill S. 420, has been passed by the Senate and is being prepared to be placed on the calendar for the House. Following my introduction is a transcript of Senator Biden's congratulatory speech in relation to the passage of S. 420, given in the Senate March 15, 2001.

I don't know enough about the US legislative system, but I assume that the bill will very likely pass in the House.  Not enough about the final version of the Bill is known to me, but I assume that the original plan to prevent fathers who fell on hard times from filing for bankruptcy after being expunged from their families, survived only in the form that their ex-spouses have first call on "deadbeat dads'" assets (so Senator Biden), ostensibly in the name of women's children and ahead of other creditors.

Senator Biden claims to be right and bases that claim on the alleged support by "60,000 child support professionals, hardly harsh people," and on the support by numerous individuals and agencies involved in making a living off the child support collection system

What are the chances of influencing enough members of Congress to make the bill fail? Is there no chance to exempt "deadbeat dads" (virtually without exception men who fell on hard times) from the amendments that Senators Wellstone and Biden called for, better yet, to squash those amendments?

It is little comfort that Senator Wellstone found an ally in Senator Biden.   Senator Biden is hardly a  paragon of objectivity when it comes to father bashing and has a long history of being a spokesman for the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other radical, Marxist-feminist, family-hostile organizations who conspire to pull the wool over people's eyes.  Go to the index to Senator Biden's speech to gain an impression of what his sentiments are with respect to fathers who fell on hard times.

A bill-board that Senator Biden can't miss
One of three billboards that Senator Biden cannot avoid
reading when he commutes by Amtrac to Washington
The billboard are being sponsored by the Safe Homes for Children and Families Coalition
Story and more pictures

Of course it will be an uphill struggle, now that Sen. Biden gave all of the "good reasons" why clamping down on deadbeat dads will be good for motherhood and apple pie.

However, it needs to be stressed that, just as Sen. Wellstone, Sen. Biden, too, didn't provide the tiniest bit of evidence that substantiates in the least that the magnitude of the problems he described and that he claims Bill S. 420 will address, it is worth worrying about as much about the problems that the Bill will cause with respect to increased incentives for marriage breakups and the escalation of the epidemic of male suicides.

By that I don't mean that there aren't individual cases of hardship, and I don't intend to disparage in the slightest the severity of the suffering that some individual single mothers may experience. The question is how many male lives and how many destroyed children's lives will be the cost of the agenda for the planned destruction of the American families. A man who needs to declare bankruptcy is still bankrupt, whether we permit him to attain that status or not, and regardless of whether or not we call him a deadbeat dad.

It is not up to the US Senate to declare without investigation or substantiation, purely on the basis of feminist-inspired rhetoric, that the tightened provisions for declaring bankruptcy work only for people who have no child support obligations, but not for "deadbeat dads." To promote Senators Biden's and Wellstone's ideas is discrimination of the worst kind, discrimination against people who fell on hard times. Let there be no mistake, in its present form S. 420 will most likely cause an increase in the American divorce rate.  An even more somber fact is that S. 420 will cause the rising epidemic of male suicides in the US to accelerate. 

Ostensibly, Senator Biden's concerns for women and women's children are well addressed with Bill S. 420, as it will safeguard the income of single mothers and those mothers' children who rely as their sole income on child support and alimony payments. 

Curiously, not a single word was wasted by Senator Biden on what happens to married mothers and the children being brought up by married parents in the case of bankruptcy proceedings.  Was that omission accidental?  Not very likely, as any spokesman for NOW or other radical, extremists, Marxist-feminist, family-hostile organization most likely well knows. To secure the incomes of married families, by extending to them the same concerns and provisions that S. 420 extends to single-mother or broken "families," would strengthen married families, rather than to aid in their destruction.

Instead, Bill S. 420 will provide additional incentives for married families who are already under enormous stress from bankruptcy proceedings to break up.  For such families to break up will become part of their survival strategy.  The  existing incentive for married mothers to seek divorce when they have the assurance that they'll have custody of their children and thereby a guaranteed income through child support payments will become even greater. 

Presently, married mothers who are secure in the knowledge to obtain child custody are more likely to file for divorce than those who have no such assurance (7.3 times more likely in a state with fault divorce, and 2.5 times more likely in a state with no-fault divorce statutes, Brinig and Allen — Table 7).  Whether it is true or not, if any woman believes that the state of single motherhood provides great financial security, why should she not go for it?

And so the destruction of American families, and thereby of the men who dared to become fathers, marches on as inexorably as the final solution to the "Jewish question" in Nazi-dominated Europe did.

Walter H. Schneider

Index to Senator Biden's speech

A proud Senator — who protects women and children, makes sure they have their alimony, and "tracks downs and holds responsible deadbeat dads."

The bankruptcy system... a virtual extension of the current national family support collection system.

S. 420, a bill superior to current law, has the whole-hearted support of the foxes guarding the hen house.

Poor mom and her children suffer when "deadbeat dads" file for bankruptcy.  Nothing is said about how many of them do and why the wife and children of a married fathers won't suffer identically. Who will protect them?

The bill "empowers women....Once a father is under a bankruptcy plan and he fails to make his support payments, a mother can march to bankruptcy court and ask the court to dismiss his bankruptcy plan."

Mothers now can be assured to be first in line for their alimony payments and don't even have to take time out of their hectic schedules to achieve that.

A "self-executing" bill (no mention of how many thousands additional men will now execute themselves)

One single court order involving alleged physical abuse is used to support Senator Biden's allegation that the Bankruptcy Reform Act is needed to protect millions of women (no other evidence was introduced).

The bankruptcy judges are to reach out to "family support professionals" and to put themselves at the service of women and children who need their services (married women and children can look out for themselves).

Dad may complete his bankruptcy plan, but his obligations to mom will not stop. "...claims of women and children will always receive No. 1 priority during and after bankruptcy."  Married women, their husbands and children will have to fight for themselves, I guess, and as to divorced fathers whose wage attachment are taken out of their paycheques before they even see their money, they can always take the route taken by thousands of other men like them each year and find peace six-feet under.

"Even if a father does not earn wages, support enforcement agencies still have many tools to ensure that the mother and children get paid. (They can] intercept taxes, unemployment benefits, revoke driver's license, professional recreational licenses, deny passports, institute criminal and contempt proceedings. All of this [will give] mother and children... real, tangible, protections and resources at their disposal to bring a first priority claim against father's wages after bankruptcy, or anything else dad has.

"This legislation provides a major improvement to the problems facing child support creditors in bankruptcy proceedings."

In his speech, Senator Biden mentioned deadbeat dads or the word dad within the meaning of deadbeat dad 14 times,  husband six times, father seven times, old man once and men not at all.   He mentioned:

  • His children (without saying that the father has been expunged), once,

  • His support or alimony payments (to be made), twice,

  • His "family" (within the context, actually her family), once,

  • His last know address, once,

  • His employer, once,

  • His obligation to mom and her children once,

  • His paycheque (that will be taken from him before he even gets to see his money), once.

In contrast, Senator Biden mentioned mom or moms five times, mother or mothers ten times, woman or women 24 times — always in favourable terms — and deadbeat moms not once.  He mentioned kids, child or children 21 times, always implying that they are the mother's property and for the father to support under any and all circumstances.

He mentioned:

  • Her claim, twice,

  • Her day in court, once,

  • Her children, three times,

  • Her absent spouse, once,

  • Her at the starting line (of creditors), once,

  • Her in the race to get dad's assets, once,

  • Her hectic schedule, once,

  • Her State child support enforcement agency, once,

  • Her primary source of income for her children (CS and alimony), once,

  • Her abusive husband, twice,

  • Her rights, once,

  • Her day, once,

  • Her errands,

  • Her kids, once,

  • Her support and alimony claim, once,

  • Her payments (that she is entitled to receive), once,

  • Her way through the bankruptcy system.

It was a simple speech, one that any sixth grader would have had no problem to understand.  The message got across loud and clear: the only children that matter are those in sole-mother custody, where they belong — and the men who fathered them better pay up for the few seconds of fun they had when they sired those children.

It was a hate speech of the first order against an identifiable, underprivileged minority.

Walter H. Schneider
Fathers for Life
http://fatherless.net


US Senator Biden speaks on Bankruptcy Reform Act (Bill S. 420)

THE BANKRUPTCY BILL WILL NOT DISADVANTAGE WOMEN AND CHILDREN -- (Senate -

March 15, 2001)

Mr. BIDEN. [snip]

As I have indicated, I have heard a lot in recent days about how this bill lacks compassion--specifically, that it will hurt women and children who depend on alimony or child support. The critics claim that by making sure more money is paid back to other creditors, this bill will make it harder for women and children to get payments that should be coming to them through alimony and child support.

Mr. President, I am particularly proud of my record in protecting women and children during my 28-year career in the Senate. I am most proud of my work in drafting and passing the Violence Against Women Act, to protect women who are victims of domestic violence and all violence. I am also proud of my work to track down and hold responsible deadbeat dads .

As long ago as 1992, I was on the Senate Democratic task force for child support enforcement. While I was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, we enacted two major child support initiatives. As far as I am concerned, this bill is an extension of years of work on my part and others' to protect and enhance family support enforcement.

I am here today to show that, contrary to a lot of the rhetoric we have heard tossed around on this floor over the last couple weeks, this bill actually improves the situation of women and children who depend upon child support. I specifically would like to speak to how this bill targets the problems they now face under the current bankruptcy law and turns the bankruptcy system into a virtual extension of the current national family support collection system.

S. 420, the bill we just passed, is so far superior to current law that the National Child Support Enforcement Association, representing 60,000 child support professionals, supports it. These are the people from Salt Lake City to Wilmington, DE, in their family courts or whatever you call them in your respective States, who have the job of collecting support that is ordered by the court or agreed to in a settlement by a father for his children. Sometimes it is a mother, but overwhelmingly it is the father who has a support requirement to take care of the financial needs of the children who are with the mother. These are 60,000 child support professionals, hardly harsh people.

The National Council for Child Support Directors supports the legislation we just passed.

S. 420 is so far superior to current law that the National Association of Attorneys General supports this law. The association's letter of support is personally signed by 27 State attorneys general.

The attorney general of the State of Vermont endorses the family support protection in this legislation.

The attorney general of Minnesota endorses this law, along with the attorneys general of Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Montana, North Carolina, Michigan, Maryland, Iowa, Hawaii, and Washington.

S. 420, the bill we passed tonight, is so far superior to current law that the National District Attorneys Association, representing more than 7,000 local prosecutors, supports this legislation.

In particular, California embraces this bill, the California Family Support Council, whose 2,500 enforcement professionals carry out the child support program in California. The California District Attorneys Association, consisting of elected district attorneys from each and every one of California's 58 counties and over 2,500 deputy district attorneys--they all support this bill that we were told is so heartless to children and women.

Support enforcement professionals west of the Mississippi support this bill. The Western Interstate Child Support Enforcement Council, composed of child support professionals from the private as well as the public sector west of the Mississippi, wanted this bill passed.

Finally, the corporation counsel of the City of New York supports the domestic support provisions. Yes, even New York City loves this bill.

Why has this legislation earned such overwhelming support from professionals who are out in the field, who are in the trenches trying to collect money from regular dads and deadbeat dads who owe child support for their children or alimony to their wives if this is such a compassionless bill? They support it because the system is broken and this bill fixes it.

When a deadbeat dad files for bankruptcy under the current system, what happens to mom and the kids? If the dad is actually making payments, those payments stop. They stop now. That is right, the payments stop cold. Mom then has to find a lawyer or a government advocate, take time off from work, go to the bankruptcy court, and try to get those payments started again.

When she goes to court, her claim may not be heard that day, so she will have to return again. If she is late, she will miss her day in court. In the meantime, the kids are getting no support payments.

This bill changes all that. She will be paid, and her children will get their child support payments while every other creditor has to wait for the bankruptcy court proceedings to unfold. This is a major improvement over current law.

Rather than putting women at a disadvantage, this bill empowers women. It gives them a say in the bankruptcy proceedings relating to her absent spouse. Once a father is under a bankruptcy plan and he fails to make his support payments, a mother can march to bankruptcy court and ask the court to dismiss his bankruptcy plan.

The court will call the dad back to explain himself. He does not want to make payments during the bankruptcy plan: that is what he says. That is how it was before. He did not have to do it before. Fine. He can be thrown out of bankruptcy and find himself back at square one.

Under current law, when the dad's bill collectors show up in the bankruptcy court, mom has to fight with them over the child support.

In asserting her claim, she is not the No. 1 collector in the line, nor No. 2, 3, 4, or 5. She is No. 7 in line, the seventh to be paid. The current code handicaps her at the starting line by permitting other bill collectors to beat her in the race to get dad's assets.

Why is this so important? As a practical matter, she does not have to find room in her hectic schedule to make an appearance in bankruptcy court, an intimidating place for most people. She can go to work without interrupting her day. She can run her errands. She can pick up her kids from school and, under this bill, she will automatically be first in line for her support and alimony claim. She will continue to receive her payments during the bankruptcy proceeding.

When we pass this bill, she does not have to work her way through the bankruptcy system; the system will work its way for her, not against her.

Another provision added to this bill in the managers' package was the moment the husband declares bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court is required to file with and notify, immediately, the spouse. So just in case the old man had not mentioned that he has these payments and there is not a record of it, she knows immediately. The court is required to notify the spouse if he files for bankruptcy.

The system will work for the mother. That is the beauty of the bill. It is self-executing. The provisions to be added to the bankruptcy code will function automatically, and that is vital. Women who do not have a lawyer to help them will be most helped by this aspect of the bill.

Under the current code, they have to get an attorney, go to court and assert their claims, and, again, they are No. 7 when they assert their claims.

There are other important ways in which this bill will remove real obstacles to justice that exist in the current bankruptcy law. This bill not only lifts the stay on support payments in bankruptcy--let me emphasize that.

The husband goes into Delaware and files for bankruptcy. What immediately happens is a stay on all the payments he makes occur. The family court wonders why he "ain't" paying. They automatically stay the payment when they get a notice that he has filed for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can go on for weeks, months--a long time. In the meantime, what does that mother do? How does she feed her children if, in fact, that is her primary source of income for her children?

That is how it works now. That is how it works now in almost every State.

I have an order in my pile of papers. I will refer to the order.

In my home State of Delaware, a woman went to court and requested a restraining order against her abusive husband. He had already filed for bankruptcy. Incredibly, the judge found that under the current bankruptcy code, a proceeding for a domestic abuse restraining order is automatically stayed.

Did my colleagues hear what I just said? This is a woman who says she is being abused. She wants an order to keep her abusive husband away from her.

The husband has filed for bankruptcy, and the court finds that under the current bankruptcy code, a proceeding for a domestic abuse restraining order is automatically stayed "by operation of law."

All those folks who stand on the floor--and I heard them lecture me about how abusive this law is--do not understand the present system and the part we are trying to correct and what we do correct in this bill.

That is right. We have judges out there right now who look at today's bankruptcy code and find that filing bankruptcy stops all other proceedings.

They find we have failed to write an exception for proceedings such as those for domestic violence. They find their hands are tied.

Then they send a woman in here to get the bankruptcy court to lift the automatic stay so she can go back into court and get a stay to keep the abusive husband away from her. This bill permits that restraining order to go forward, while the current law does not do that.

If anyone thinks it is fair, if anyone prefers this state of affairs--and I know the Presiding Officer does not--I guess you will think we passed a bad bill. Personally, I am proud of this bill. I am surprised opponents failed to take note of the important improvements this bill has made for women and children. If they have their way in a conference or when it comes back here, women and children in this country depending on alimony and child support will be robbed of real protections we have in this bill. I think that would be a crime.

This is another way the bill provides women with the resources and the influence they now lack under the current bankruptcy code. Section 219 of the bill requires the U.S. bankruptcy trustee to notify a woman of her rights to use the services of her State child support enforcement agency, and gives her the agency's address and phone number the moment the husband files. Better yet, the trustee, likewise, notifies the agency independently of the woman's claim.

That is striking. The bankruptcy judge is now, if we pass this law, required to notify the child support agency of what is going on, in addition to the woman. A woman who needs help will get information they need because the bankruptcy system is charged with reaching out to family support professionals, acting under the family Federal support collection law, which I helped pass, and putting them at the service of women and children who need these services.

This last item needs stressing because so much has been made about what will happen after someone who owes family support payments comes out of bankruptcy. The claim is that "a more powerful creditor will push women and children aside and strip the dad bare before he can make any payments to his family." That makes for a very moving story. However, it is plain, ordinary fiction. As one of our former colleagues used to say, with his great sense of humor, Senator Simpson of Wyoming, how many times through the years I served on this floor with him in the Judiciary Committee, and he turned and said: I understand the gentleman is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts. He is not entitled to his own facts.

The facts are, that after the bankruptcy payment is made, after they have worked out if they are in a chapter 7, afterwards, the bankruptcy trustee is required to notify both the woman and the family support collection professionals about the dad's release from bankruptcy, his last known address, the name and address of his employer, and a list naming all of the bill collectors that will still be there trying to collect from dad. This section helps mother both during and after bankruptcy. The new notification procedures will help a mother and the support enforcement agencies keep track of the father, where he is working, and what other bills he is required to pay. Because of this monitoring, which would be put in place by the bankruptcy system under this bill, mothers and collection agencies can more easily go to court and get that portion of the father's wages that now belong to them. Dad may complete his bankruptcy plan, but his obligations to mom will not stop.

These new procedures guarantee that family support claims of women and children will always receive No. 1 priority during and after bankruptcy. The process for obtaining a portion of the father's wages, through a wage attachment, already guarantees priority to women and children over all other collectors, whoever they are.

Under the wage attachment, the money is taken out of his paycheck before he even sees it. He can't be forced "by powerful creditors" to choose between them and his alimony or child support. These payments are automatic.

Again, the picture of the greedy bill collector, rushing in front, elbowing mom out of line, and the starving children, is a dynamic story-telling device, but it is only that--story telling. It is a plain story. As I said, quoting my friend from Wyoming, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

Even if a father does not earn wages, support enforcement agencies still have many tools to ensure that the mother and children get paid. Support enforcement agencies can intercept taxes, unemployment benefits, revoke driver's license, professional recreational licenses, deny passports, institute criminal and contempt proceedings. All of this she is unable to do now because she doesn't know where dad took off to but the bankruptcy court is required, even after he works out a bankruptcy, to tell her, and tell her who the collectors are. That is why, even compared to any imaginary powerful creditor you might be able to conjure up, mother and children have real, tangible, protections and resources at their disposal to bring a first priority claim against father's wages after bankruptcy, or anything else dad has.

Finally, let me conclude where I began, with the enthusiasm for this legislation that we have heard from the folks in the trenches. This is what the National Association of Attorneys General asserts. The bill "improves the treatment of domestic support obligations," and when the current code "obstacles are removed, as this legislation seeks to accomplish, we believe that our State and local support enforcement offices will continue to be able to collect those moneys effectively, regardless of whether the lower priority creditors remain."

The National District Attorneys Association, with more than 7,000 local prosecutors in their membership, is convinced that women and children will not be disadvantaged by this bill. "To the contrary, support collectors have vastly more effective, and meaningful, collection readiness before a bankruptcy case is filed, or after the case is completed, than any other financial institution. It is under the current law, during bankruptcy, that support collectors have the greatest difficulty, because they are in competition with all other creditors for bankruptcy estate assets and because their most effective collection remedies have been stayed. This legislation provides a major improvement to the problems facing child support creditors in bankruptcy proceedings."

I worked very hard to see that many of these things got in the bill. I support enthusiastically the reform that enforcement professionals call for from New York City to California, from Minnesota to Vermont, from Massachusetts to Michigan. I want to save women and children from having to fight their way through a broken bankruptcy system, and even if they get there, they end up seventh in line. I want to make some system work for them and not against them. I believe all those who voted for this bill today voted to do just that. That is why I so strongly supported the bill.

See also:

  • Comments on Senator Wellstone's submission to the US Senate in relation to Bill S. 420.

  • Family Law — Table of Contents

  • From Marxism to Feminism: The planned destruction of the American family
    Statement of Bill Wood
    FC-8 Hearing on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse July 17, 2003
    TESTIMONY FOR THE [US] WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE

    The planned destruction of the family was part of the communist agenda from its inception by Karl Marx and Frederic Engels.   It became government policy in the USSR in about 1917. It was so successful in the USSR that it threatened to destroy society in the USSR.  Curiously, while in the 1940s the USSR took steps to repair the damages its family-hostile policies had caused, American communists imported the Soviet agenda for the planned destruction of the family into the USA.  It has been and continues to be promoted by left-leaning liberals in the West ever since.

    When it was determined that this type of class warfare directed at the family was a complete failure, the Soviets worked quickly to restore the traditional nuclear family in the 1940’s.  Shortly after this, the NAWL (National Association of Women Lawyers) began their push for adopting these failed Soviet policies in America. America’s version of “family law” has adopted much of the early Soviet failed version of class warfare, while adopting new and more insidious Gramscian versions with gender, cultural, and social warfare components. 

    From Bill Wood's testimony to the
    Ways and Means Committee

__________________
Posted 2001 03 28
Updates:
2003 05 02 (added reference to Family Law — Table of Contents
2003 08 01 (added reference to From Marxism to Feminism: The planned destruction of the American family)