It doesn’t pay to mess around with a court order to pay child support. A U.S. businessman was thrown in jail last Thursday for not paying January child support of ¢3.6 million colones (US$7.500) plus school costs of ¢2 million (US$4.000) for his six-year-old daughter.
The Juzgado de Pensiones Alimentarias de Santa Ana – Santa Ana court, on a complaint by the child welfare agency PANI, ordered Jorge Pita, a U.S. citizen residing here to serve a prison stretch until he pays the piper.
He calls the amount “exorbitant.” Pita, 68, claims that he can pay only ¢1.2 million due to a setback in his business. The owner of a luxurious restaurant in Escazu separated from the little girl’s mother last July. He claims the restaurant is his sole source of income.
Judge Elizabeth Picado is prevented by regulations from going into detail about the case but noted that, just in San Jose, her court manages 7,038 such cases. She, of course, is not presiding in this case but told La Nacion that few cases have child support this high and that the average is ¢91,000 colones (US$85) per month.
In the court she heads, only 27 cases are for sums of a million to five million colones. She admits that it is difficult at first to hash out a fair provisional child support order. The court’s information is initially scarce and often the mother in the case knows little about her estranged husband’s or live-in boyfriend’s business, other than perhaps that he has a nice car, or some property or a business.