District Attorneys praise NOMADS
Despite complaints about how hard it is to use the NOMADS computer system, county district attorneys are quick to praise a couple of things about the system.
“It’s a great idea,” says Washoe District Attorney Dick Gammick. “The idea of being able to find someone anywhere and make him meet his child support obligations. We’ve never had that ability before – not like this.”
The idea behind federal legislation that seeks to unify and standardize child support rules was to link county and state systems to federal data banks from welfare and Social Security to criminal justice records – as well as to tie different state systems together.
The first day it was up and running, Washoe caseworkers say it found two people they had almost given up on – one of them in Tennessee who disappeared a couple of years earlier. Caseworkers gleefully issued the paperwork to garnish that man’s wages for current and back support payments.
Washoe Family Support chief Lance Turner says in the past, deadbeats simply changed jobs and moved whenever the court orders caught up with them, getting out of child support for a year until they were found again – usually by accident. NOMADS, according to Turner and Gammick, will make that just about impossible.
The other thing it does well, from the federal and state point of view, is help get their share of money back. Under the new welfare rules, the “deadbeat” parent should also pay the state back for welfare grants made to the custodial parent. The theory is, if he’d been paying child support all along, she wouldn’t have needed the welfare money.
So NOMADS is designed to grab every dollar possible above and beyond the court-ordered payment to repay welfare.
The problem for a while was that NOMADS paid the state before it paid any back payments to the custodial parent.
“That’s not how we do it,” said Turner. “We say the custodial parent should get any extra first, not the state.”
He says the state has finally gotten the message – mom and kids are supposed to get back payments ahead of Welfare.
The other thing NOMADS will be able to do when all the cases in every county are entered is track and tie together parents who are involved in more than one case. Every county has what some of the caseworkers refer to as “slow learners” – guys who owe child support to more than one woman and women who have children by more than one absent father.
Turner says there are a few women who have children by three different men, and the fathers have children by different women.
“It can get really complicated,” he said, adding that the inability to track those intertwined cases too often results in multiple and conflicting court orders.
And far too many custodial parents have automatically opened a new case every time they move to another city, county or state without bothering to mention they already have a case elsewhere.
Welfare’s NOMADS Chief Gary Stagliano says the computer is helping sort out those cases, unifying the ones that involve the same people and eliminating duplicates.
When finished, he said, the 188,000 case files Nevada had a year ago should be reduced to about 140,000.