A Houston man who was current on his child support — and actually overpaid — was still sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay his ex-wife’s attorney fees, shocking legal observers and others.
Clifford Hall says there were modifications in the child support and visitations but he was not notified in advance.
“I discovered for some reason his employer was withholding a large amount some weeks a small amount some weeks a zero amount some weeks,” says Hall’s attorney Tyesha Elam.
“I didn’t want to go to jail basically,” Hall says.
Therefore, Hall quickly paid almost three grand in back child support.
When Hall and his ex-wife were in Judge Lisa Millard’s court in November, it was documented that he owed nothing, according to MyFoxHouston.
“Opposing counsel testified twice that he’s all paid up,” says Elam.
There was a hitch: the child’s mother’s attorney wanted Hall to pay her three grand in attorney fees and the judge agreed.
Court documents also reveal Hall wasn’t following the court’s scheduled times to pick his son up for visitation. Hall said he was not informed of this either.
“The judge ended up sentencing him to six months in jail,” Elam says.
“When she said, ‘I remand you to the Harris County Jail for 180 days,’ my mouth just dropped,” says Hall.
“This entire situation is shocking to me,” says community activist Quanell X. “I’ve never seen one like this.”
Quanell X wants the state’s judicial board to investigate.
“The court failed the child,” he says. “The court failed Mr. Hall. The system broke down.”
“I’m like, he couldn’t have gotten a worse result,” Elam says. “He could have gone in there with a monkey and gotten a better result. What did I do that my client has over paid over visited and is now paying three thousand dollars in attorney fees and is going to jail for six months?”
Hall told the media that he has always been more than willing to provide child support for his 11-year-old son.
“I’m his father; it’s my responsibility to take care of him,” Hall says.
Now that he has been remanded to the Harris County Jail, he says this defeats the purpose of providing for his son.
“I can’t be there for my son in jail,” Hall was quick to add. “I can’t pay child support in jail. This is not in the best interest of the child.”
Judge Lisa Millard tells Fox 26 she found Hall in contempt when he walked out of the courtroom.
The judge also puts the onus on Hall’s attorney, telling the media that his attorney could have filed a motion for reconsideration, which would have given her an opportunity to hear from both sides again and reevaluate the situation.
Hall’s attorney says she is now working on an appeal; however, Hall is going to turn himself in to serve his sentence within the next few days.