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Americans Owe More than $100 Billion in Unpaid Child Support

Published on 11/12/2012 -

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American parents collectively owe more than $100 billion in unpaid child support, which is a huge burden on families and taxpayers alike, according to a CNN report.

Sources say that nearly half of the $100 billion is owed to children who are on public assistance, which means that the recovery of some of this unpaid money could help reduce the burden on American taxpayers.

Unfortunately, the enforcement of child support payments has long troubled state courts, and is likely to continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future.

Children on Public Assistance Impacted by Unpaid Child Support

Sources say that children receiving public assistance are disproportionately impacted by the plague of unpaid child support. And many of these children are forced to seek public aid when the child support checks fail to come in the mail.

In this event, the paying parents are supposed to reimburse the government, but this often fails to happen. As a result, about 49 percent of unpaid child support, which represents a little more than $50 billion, is owed to the government, according to statistics compiled by the National Women’s Law Center.

While this hurts taxpayers, it has an even worse effect on the custodial parents, who often struggle to make ends meet without the aid of the parent who are supposed to make consistent child support payments.

In the United States, mothers living below the poverty line depend on child support payments for 45 percent of their income, according to sources. And women represent 82 percent of custodial parents, sources say.

Not all non-custodial parents are bad apples, however. More than 70 percent of families do receive some child support payments during the year, according to sources. So a relatively small number of parents account for the massive debt owed to the country’s children.

State Governments Look to Enforce Child Support Laws

While plenty of child support laws are on the books, many state governments have found it difficult to enforce these orders.

State laws often allow officials to garnish paychecks, take tax refunds, or revoke state privileges such as driver’s licenses from offending parents, but diminished state budgets often leave enforcement offices with limited resources.

Sources say that an increase in the number of employees at family law agencies could help reduce the amount of unpaid child support by a significant margin.

States will have to emphasize the importance of collecting money from deadbeat parents. And it’s not evident that this is a huge political priority in 2012.

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