Chicago veteran warns others after error causes him to pay child support fines

A Chicago man who has served his country for two decades says he hasn't been served very well by the state of Illinois.

FOX 32’s Larry Yellen has the story of Major Donald Harris' dispute with the state, and what happened when we started asking questions.

FOX 32: You're not a deadbeat dad?

“Definitely not a deadbeat dad,” said Harris.

Harris has been in the Army for 20 years. He was a Tank Commander during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and also served in Afghanistan. And over the past decade, as a father with two children by a previous marriage, he's also been making child support payments, which he has no issue with doing.

“I'm glad to make them because I want to make sure I’m contributing to my family and contributing to my kids,” Harris said.

His monthly support payments are automatically taken right out of his Army paychecks, so it's never been hard to keep up.

FOX 32: You've been making all your payments on time?

“That’s correct, I made every single payment on time, I don’t' have a choice,” Harris said.

But in recent months, the state claimed Major Harris fell behind. He supposedly owed another $1700, including late fees. When he called to find out why, he says he was treated like anything but someone who's given two decades of service to his country.

“I never encounter a person who's cooperative. Just last week I was hung up on by a representative. They treat me as if I'm a deadbeat. They treat me as if I’m inconveniencing them,” Harris said.

The state soon began taking bigger chunks out of his paychecks. The final straw came when the state seized his $700 tax refund from the IRS a few weeks ago. He believes the mix-up occurred because the Army occasionally issues its paychecks before the first of the month and the state applies those payments to the wrong month.

But Health and Family Services now says that a changed court order created a discrepancy, and "a one-month added charge was inadvertently applied last May...HFS regrets the inconvenience and will work to correct this immediately."

Major Harris decided to go public about his dispute, because he's concerned that other members of the military, like himself, might be overpaying on child support due to mistakes and he knows how much their paychecks mean to them.