Stimulus check for Cleveland man likely to be intercepted due to child support debt, even though he’s had custody of son for years

Stimulus check for Cleveland man likely to be intercepted under questionable circumstances

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Cleveland man likely won't see any of his economic stimulus check.

Derek Johnson reached out to 19 News investigators after our first report on why the government is intercepting stimulus payments.

He owes back child support, but it’s for a child who’s currently living with him.

"I realize a lot of guys neglect their situation,” he said. “But, not all of us are bad.”

Johnson accrued the thousands of dollars in back child support debt first decade of his son’s life.

“That’s where I got behind,” he said. “I did make a mistake.”

He hasn’t paid that balance off, because he took custody of his son about eight years ago.

“I was like I can’t pay and take care of him,” he said.

At 19 years old, he still lives with Johnson now.

Johnson says he didn’t ask his son’s mother to financially support him after he took custody, because she was going through a lot personally.

“I didn’t want to make the situation more difficult,” Johnson said. “I just wanted it to be over with.”

But, he didn’t realize he’d still be dealing with the situation, even after trying to do the right thing.

Johnson is self-employed as a DJ and graphic designer.

He hasn’t made much money since the bars shut down and can’t get unemployment yet.

And now, he is one of many parents, who likely won’t see a stimulus check, because it will automatically be applied to their outstanding child support debt.

“You’ve got to pay what you owe, no doubt,” he said. “But, why are they taking the entire check?”

He says he wishes the government would consider only with-holding a portion of the check, especially since he he started making his monthly payments before the pandemic.

“Who prepares for this? You know?” he said.

With his savings and a creative mind, Johnson says he’ll get through this.

He’s now just concerned about others who may have younger children or more than one kid to provide for.

“I see a lot of people say some people deserve not to get any money or whatever. That’s okay, but at the same time it’s like, who prepares for this?” he said.

Johnson says been advised to get an attorney to handle his case.

He says he would, but understandably it’s just not something he can afford right now.

We reached out to an organization called the Fatherhood Initiative to gauge how many other parents who have custody of a child, are not going to see a stimulus check. We’ll let you know when we find out.

The last time we spoke with a local child support enforcement agency, officials said they’ve dealt with many difficult situations like this in the last few weeks.

However, in most cases, if people are behind in child support, a child is negatively affected.

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