Debt or Payback?

6
Posted March 5, 2014 by STATIC in News
Kyev

The Rev. Kyev Tatum went on a Facebook tear after spending a day in the Tarrant County Jail last week. He posted accusations that jailers tried to poison him and characterized himself as a political prisoner. (The “poison” turned out to be a tuberculosis vaccination.) He accused the county of running a debtors’ prison.

Police arrested Tatum in connection with failure to pay child support. The state says he owes about $25,000 in back support and interest to his ex-wife, Martha Castex, for their son.

The Tatums divorced in 2006, and a family court judge ordered the activist minister to pay $250 a month in child support. Tatum later suffered what he described as a mental breakdown and fell behind on his support. He said he gave a substantial amount of personal property to his ex-wife, who liquidated it to cover the costs of raising their son. She signed an affidavit on June 6, 2008, saying she wished to waive all child support debt and to cancel any future payments. “Our son is financially adequately provided for and I do not wish or need to receive child support from Mr. Tatum,” she wrote. The notarized affidavit is included in the couple’s case file in Tarrant County records.

Tatum said his recent arrest and prolonged harassment by the state attorney general’s office is political payback for his tough stances against Fort Worth officials, including Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead, on a wide variety of issues. In 2009, he blasted Halstead after a police officer tasered local resident Michael Jacobs for almost a full minute. Jacobs died afterward, and the city eventually paid a $2 million settlement.

That same year, the attorney general’s child support office began demanding that Tatum pay his back support. Tatum refused, pointing to the affidavit signed by his ex-wife. He called himself a conscientious objector and was arrested for contempt of court. The attorney general’s office contacted his wife back then and encouraged her to pursue the back support, Tatum said.

“They used my former wife to scare me politically by manufacturing this debt to make me look like a deadbeat dad,” he said. “Just the opposite — I’m a beatup dad by [Atty. Gen.] Greg Abbott and his criminal assistants.”

Fort Worth Weekly called Tatum’s ex-wife to confirm this, but she hung up on the reporter and did not respond to subsequent phone messages. Castex appears to be cooperating with state officials in demanding payment; she signed a court order to that effect in 2012.

More recently, Tatum has called for Halstead to resign after a police officer allegedly wrote racist comments and posted a photo of a noose on his personal Facebook page but wasn’t fired. Tatum also sued the Tarrant Regional Water District in 2013 after board members moved their elections to odd-numbered years, giving current board members an extra year on their terms.

Tatum’s recent child support arrest is due to the combined efforts of various agencies — city, county, and state — out to discredit him, he said.

“It’s all political,” he said. “It’s embarrassing. They’re using my children and my past to assassinate my character.”


6 Comments


  1.  
    Rob

    PAY YOUR CHILD SUPPORT-YOU DEADBEAT DAD ! Only a Piece of S#it wont pay for there Kids-You Made Them, NOW pay for Them




  2.  
    stoutimore

    Apparently the author did little to check the veracity of Tatum’s claims. Tatum’s 2006 divorce decree shows he AGREED to $250 a month in child support, and the judge approved the agreement. In the story, Tatum claims the State began demanding back child support in retaliation for his criticism of local police in 2009. That is false. After signing his agreed divorce in 2006, the State filed for enforcement in 12/2007 claiming Tatum paid no child support for the 10 months following the divorce.

    As a family law attorney, I have little good to say about the Attorney General. But to suggest that the AG’s effort to force Tatum to bear his parental responsibilites is rooted in political payback is absurd. Thousand of non-activist parents wind up in jail for non-support. What makes Tatum so special?




  3.  
    Not an attorney

    “She signed an affidavit on June 6, 2008, saying she wished to waive all child support debt and to cancel any future payments. “Our son is financially adequately provided for and I do not wish or need to receive child support from Mr. Tatum,” she wrote. The notarized affidavit is included in the couple’s case file in Tarrant County records.”

    How do you explain that?




    •  
      stoutimore

      The affidavit was filed with a motion in which Tatum requested that the court waive past and future support. But an affidavit of that nature is not self-executing. The court would have wanted to ascertain whether the mother’s affidavit was freely given; whether the child’s needs were in fact being met; and the like. If the court had heard the motion, it might have been granted. However, the case became inactive and was ultimately dismissed for want of prosecution without a judge ever hearing Tatum’s motion.

      There’s another reason why such an affidavit might be ineffective: If a child support obligee receives government assistance for the support of a child in lieu of support from the other parent, then the obligee has no prerogative to forgive past and future support from the obligor because that money is due to reimburse the taxpayers who’ve supported the child. This is a big part of the Attorney General’s job.




  4.  
    Observer

    I’m trying to figure out if you are commenting on the story or using this man’s misfortune as an advertisement for legal services. Everyone has a bitter ex- ???. No small coincidence on the timing of this claim given Tatum’s involvement in FWISD and Trinity Water.




    •  
      Stoutimore

      Nothing suggests the ex-wife is bitter. In fact, the story claims she is willing to forgive all debts. And how could my comments be considered ads? My user-name could be as fake as yours.

      If a child support obligor pays no child support for eight years, and is politically active during the entire period, I suppose anyone could claim the State’s effort to enfoce child support is politically motivated. Or maybe they’re just doing their job?





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