Wis. man stands in for son at child support hearing

Karl Dorfner, of West Allis, Wis., was trying to be a good father when he showed up at his son’s child support hearing. That’s something more than his son, also named Karl, has going for him, apparently.

The elder Dorfner didn’t want his son to lose his new job so he offered to attend the court hearing in his place, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Stingl writes today.

The judge threw Dorfner out once he realized he wasn’t the Karl Dorfner who was behind on his payments.

“I see no reason why I could not have been afforded the opportunity to at least explain my presence. And if that was unacceptable, I should have been given a chance to reschedule his appearance at a time that would be suitable with his employer,” Dorfner tells Stingl.

A county clerk said if someone shows up for court to represent someone else, he’s practicing law without a license.

Dorfner the younger, not having missed a day of work, should be able to send some money to his ex.

  • Jerry

    I think it says something about America that the son had to be afraid of losing his job for making a court appearance.

    • RBHolb

      Most courts will let you reschedule, but you have to ask in advance.

    • What does it say?

      • Jerry

        That the power balance between the employers and the employees is way out of whack in this country. You should be able to get a day off to go to court. This is nothing new, of course.

        The decreasing power of unions has hurt every worker in this country, not just their members.

        • I’m not sure the guy asked.

          • Jerry

            Are we both making assumptions or did I miss it in the story? I feel like I read a story where the son was afraid of losing his job if he went to court. There is no information if that fear is justified.

          • According to Stingl, it’s the father who was worried the kid would lose his job.

            The kid sounds like a piece of work too.

          • Jerry

            Again, not enough information for me to draw a conclusion on their character. Intelligence, maybe.

          • I drew my conclusion on character when I read “behind on child support”

          • Jerry

            Sorry for ruining your story making fun of feckless idiots by bringing up the huge power imbalance in American employment that is also demonstrated in the story.

          • I don’t think you ruined anything.

          • KTFoley

            Here it is from Stingl’s story:
            Dorfner’s 43-year-old son, also named Karl Dorfner, started a good-paying job as a sprinkler fitter two weeks ago, and his father worried that missing work to attend court could jeopardize the job and the son’s ability to resume making child support payments.

            So there are probably plenty of stories that demonstrate the imbalance of power, but the content of this one does not do that.

          • Jerry

            That doesn’t say whether he actually would have lost his job for attending court, just that his father thought he would. And the fact that fear exists is not good for the American worker.

          • KTFoley

            Exactly: the jobholder was not the one with the fear of job loss.

            The fear exists on the part of the parent, but from what primary source? His own son’s history? A tendency to helicopter/enable in that relationship? A last-minute realization that his son didn’t take care of the basics of communicating the need to be away? Generalized personal anxiety?

            The content of this story provides no real connection to the thing you want to talk about right now.

          • Jerry

            Sure, whatever. Let’s go back to laughing at the guy who was trying to help his son.

          • KTFoley

            Who’s laughing?

          • Jerry

            That’s kind of the tone of the article. “Look at this ‘piece of work’ who lost his job and couldn’t afford child support and his father who thought he could help him by representing him in court. They sure are dumb!”

          • That’s not laughing at them. That’s calling them dumb.

            And yeah, it’s stupid not to show up for your child support hearing .

            I recognize that some people might think that’s a sign of underlying genius. I’m not one of them.

          • Jerry

            It’s also stupid to lose your new job that will allow you to pay child support

          • Boy if only there were a way to either (a) ask the boss for time off or , failing that, (b) calling the court and telling them you can’t make it and asking if accommodations be made.

            Not showing up for a court hearing is stupid.

            Also, it’s a good way to every dime of your next paycheck taken for child support.

            and, you’ll have a warrant for your arrest. Employees always LOVE that.

          • Jerry

            I can’t say anything about calling the court, but I know enough crappy bosses, especially in small blue collar jobs. For example, the one I heard say “if you want to call in sick, you better come in and throw up on my shoes.”

            I’m not saying they did the right thing, but that job insecurity, especially for someone coming off long term unemployment, is real.

          • Nobody’s arguing that. Except you.

          • Jerry

            Arguing which point? I’m saying that it sucks in America that you have to feel like you have to chose between keeping your job or making a court date. Should he have rescheduled rather than sending his dad? Yeah, of course. Doesn’t mean that underlying fear isn’t real.

          • your point. See your previous reply

          • Jerry

            Seriously, I don’t know why your still arguing with me. I’m sorry I drew an additional conclusion from the story you didn’t intend.

          • Sorry I answered the question you asked me to answer.

          • Deborah

            He might be behind in child support payments because he does not make his children a priority. Or he might be behind in child support payments because he lost a job. Which is exactly what the article implies. he has only been at his current job for two weeks. I think “dead beat dad” is as unhelpful a stereotype as all of the ugly assumptions we put on “single mother”.

          • KTFoley

            Here it is from Stingl’s story:
            … is behind on his child support the past several years because of job losses and an injured back.

          • Capn

            Time to sell your Jump-To-Conclusions mat.

  • KTFoley

    I freely admit to reading the linked story and jumping to the conclusion that the dad is an original helicopter parent.