Bobby Brown Free After Paying Child Support


Last week Pop singer Bobby Brown (My Prerogative, Don’t Be Cruel) was freed after spending three nights as a guest of the Norfolk County Jail in Massachusetts for failure to pay over $19,000 in back child support and court costs.  Brown was recently arrested while watching his daughter’s cheerleader competition at Attleboro High School.  Originally it was reported that Brown didn’t exactly do it on his own.  Washington D.C. Radio Station Hot 99.5 agreed to pay the arrears plus expenses in exchange for a week’s work at the station.

However, as often happens with Bobby Brown, drama surrounding the event unfolded and his lawyer Phaedra Parks stated the station “did not pay a penny toward Bobby Brown’s bail.”  She stated the monies were not received until days later and “promptly returned upon receipt.”  According to Parks, “There was never a signed contract or any formally executed agreement regarding Bobby’s appearance on 99.5.  This appears to be a publicity stunt at Bobby Brown’s expense.”

But not so fast!  Hot 99.5 posted an email alleged to be from Ms. Parks where she clearly states, “My Client Bobby Brown would like to appear on your show as proposed earlier.  Please advise when we can expect the money.”  This was on the Thursday before the money was wired.  The station also posted an email from the day before that appears to confirm the essential terms of the agreement.   At this point, both parties have mutually rescinded the offer.

A poll on Hot 99.5’s website shows that 89.74% of visitors thought Bobby “did them wrong.”  I agree with those people.  Looks like a contract to me!  Now the station has decided the money could better be used locally and decided to “pay it forward.”  Hot 99.5 is giving $1000 to 20 people who express a need for it so long as they also pledge to do something to make the world the little better.  What a great idea and better use for the funds!

There’s a few good lessons here.  One, if you don’t pay your child support, you can go to jail!  This is true in California as well as many other states.  It can happen as a result of civil contempt proceedings as well as criminal enforcement actions.  In California, under Penal Code Section 270, someone who “Willfully omits to furnish without lawful excuse” can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and serve one year and/or pay a $2000 fine.  In other states, the penalties can be much higher.  For instance, in Montana, in some cases, failure to pay child support is treated as a felony and a parent can be sentenced for up to ten years in prison and/or pay $50,000.  In Oregon, it is also a felony and one can be sentenced for five years and pay a file up to $100,000.  The Center on Fathers, Families and Public Policy created a chart with the help of a attorney that contains an overview of all the criminal statutes for nonpayment of child support.  If you would like to check your state, click here.

Two, it’s good to keep in mind a contract doesn’t necessarily have to be a “signed” or “formally executed” as Bobby Brown’s attorney was implying.  In fact, sometimes courts will enforce contracts that are entirely oral in nature.  Here there were writings back and forth and it appears there was a “meeting of the minds.”

If you are a parent who is not receiving child support, or a parent who has fallen behind in child support and wants to get back on track, please contact me for a consultation.  It’s better to deal with these things sooner rather than later.  Often I can help you!  I can also assist with small business disputes over contracts and other matters.

I received in the mail some flyers from Kids’ Turn for a six week workshop that some of you may be interested in attending.  It’s called “Divorce Education for Children and Parents.”  According to the flyer, the workshop will consist of six 90 minute weekly sessions for children ages 4 through 14, and their parents.  Children meet in groups according to their ages while parents attend groups at the same site.  Parents of the same family meet in separate rooms and when appropriate, both parents are strongly encouraged to attend.

The benefits of this workshop include:

  • Improved communications between parents and children leading to reduced conflict
  • New insight into how children experience divorce, both during and after the divorce
  • Powerful strategies for helping your children cope more effectively with separation or divorce

The workshop starts April 21, 2007 and the location is TBD but will be centrally located.  For more information or to register online, visit the Kids’ Turn website or call 800.392.9239.  There is a sliding scale for parents and no fee for children.  No one is turned away because of inability to pay!

I encourage all divorcing parents to take advantage of these opportunities to reduce conflict over custody and visitation issues and help make the dissolution process less stressful and traumatic for children.

— Michael

P.S. — If you can’t attend the program or don’t live in the Sacramento area, don’t fret.  A book based on the acclaimed Kids’ Turn program has been published.  It’s called Good Parenting Through Your Divorce and it’s available through Amazon.  The second edition came out last December.

Online Savings, Identity Theft and Do Not Call Registry

I found a great online high yield money market savings account online this morning.  It’s being offered by Capital One.  The current yield is 5.00% and there are no fees or minimum balance!  Plus you can get free checks and an ATM card too!  It only takes a few minutes to open the account online and the minimum opening deposit is just $1.00.  It links to your existing checking account and that is how you deposit or withdraw money.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes.  I myself was recently a victim of this when someone fraudulently used my credit card to establish an AOL account and pay eBay fees.  Luckily I noticed the suspicious activity before any major damage was done.  Here’s a short identity theft prevention checklist:

1.  Check your credit report annually.  See my previous post on how to do this free.

2.  Review your bills and statements on a regular basis.

3.  Guard your mail and trash from theft.  It’s a good idea to use a paper shredder when tossing out financial or other sensitive documents.

4.  Use caution when giving out your personal information.  This is especially true on the Internet where there are many traps for the unwary.

5.  Copy the contents of your wallet or purse.  An easy way to do this is by using your digital camera to take photographs of your identification, credit and membership cards.  For added protection, burn the pictures to a CD and store it in your safe deposit box.

6.  Report lost or stolen checks or credit cards immediately.

Find out more online at


I was working at home this afternoon and interrupted several times by telemarketers.  I decided to finally just say “no” and add my name to the National Do Not Call Registry.  I’ve been hearing about this for several years but never got around to actually using it.  I was pleased to discover it was really easy to do.  The FTC has set up a simple website and the whole thing only takes a minute.  Basically, you just enter you telephone number and e-mail address.  The site sends a confirmation e-mail that you click and you’re good to go for five years!  Yay!

— Michael

Free Annual Credit Reports

Hello all!  I’m sorry I have neglected my blog already.  The press of business has kept me from adding to it as much as I should.  I’ll try to do better in the future!

In case you were not aware, due to recent federal legislation, everyone is entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  The report can be requested by mail, telephone or (perhaps most easily) on the Internet.  It’s important to periodically review your report and check it for outdated and/or inaccurate information.  The reports are used not only by creditors, but also landlords, prospective employers and insurers.  Regular review may also tip you off to the growing problem of identity theft.

To request your free annual credit reports, visit the website below:

And remember, if you are facing serious financial problems, bankruptcy is still a viable solution for many people.  Although Congress made the bankruptcy laws tougher last fall, there are still plenty of folks filing Chapter 7 and getting a fresh start.  If you are in the Sacramento area and wish to discuss your situation with me, please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail.  I offer a free thirty minute bankruptcy consultation to prospective clients.

— Michael

“We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.”

Parenting Classes Available at San Juan Schools for Adults

The other day I received a booklet in the mail from San Juan Unified School District advertising upcoming classes for adults.  I was surprised to see parenting classes among the offerings.  The family law court often orders parents to attend these types of classes after attending mediation.  San Juan’s programs are convenient and affordable.  Here’s a few that may be of interest:


This six week class is designed for families going through the divorce and/or mediation process and will meet court requirements.  Birth parents should take this class separately.  $35 per person.  Orange Grove Adult School, Tuesdays 1-10 to 2-14 or Fair Oaks Preschool 4-18 to 5-23.  Both will be held from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Parenting the Toddler

Attended by both parent and toddler together, this class provides active participation by all parents, provides growing and learning experiences for both adults and children.  Age:  18 months to 3 years.  $45 per month and $45 annual registration.  Fair Oaks Elementary on Mon, Weds or Fri from 8:45 to 11:45.

Positive Discipline

A six week series — learn about alternatives to spanking, how to avoid nagging and power struggles.  Use of time outs and logical consequences.  $30 — Thursdays 3-2 to 4-6 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Fair Oaks Annex.

Registration started on December 5th, so do not delay if you are interested.  Parenting classes often fill up quick.  For more information visit San Juan’s website.  Many other classes are also available including many related to computers and business.  I might even enroll in one myself.



Welcome to my new Xanga!  I hope you find it informative and
entertaining.  I’ll be posting entries related to my law practice
as well as musings of a more general nature as the spirit moves me.

Questions, comments and suggestions are welcome!