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Nation's parents owe $100 billion in child support

Rhode Island residents may know that the government has methods to enforce child support orders including garnishing paychecks, intercepting tax refunds or suspending driver's licenses. But according to the federal Office of Child Support enforcement, there is still over $100 billion owed in delinquent payments.

According to the National Women's Law Center, about half of the money is owed to taxpayers who are supporting children on public assistance. When dead beat parents fail to pay their child support obligations, the custodial parent is often unable to manage the everyday expenses of raising a child and may end up needing public assistance. Forty-one percent of households headed by single women are below the poverty level, and a contributing factor to this situation is that these parents must get by without the court ordered child support owed to them.

Some parents who owe child support have jobs in which they are paid in cash in order to avoid declaring their income. Custodial parents who come forward to report parents working off the books could play a role in eliminating the child support problem.

But some parents who cannot make their child support payments are not necessarily deadbeats. Many have lost their jobs or are injured at work and are having difficulty meeting their support obligations. Courts set child support payments at a percentage of a person's gross income, and this amount can add up quickly when someone is out of the workforce. However, child support is an issue that can always be revisited and modified at the request of a parent when their financial circumstances change.  It is important for those paying Rhode Island child support, who have a decrease in income, to petition the court for relief, as the court can only provide relief starting with the date of the filing.

Source: CNN Money, "Deadbeat parents cost taxpayers $53 billion," Steve Hargreaves, Nov. 5, 2012

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