Over $100 Billion Owed, Almost Half to Taxpayers!
I thought this story might be a bit of a change, elicit a bit of outrage... and, maybe we'll see who's really been on the losing end...
"Over $100 billion is owed in unpaid child support -- nearly half of that to taxpayers supporting children on public assistance. According to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, $108 billion in total back payments was owed to parents with custody of children in 2009.
If those payments aren't made and the children then need to go on public assistance, payments are supposed to be made to the government in the form of reimbursement. About 49% of that back money -- or roughly $53 billion -- is owed to the government, according to Joan Entmacher, vice president of family & economic security of the National Women's Law Center.
That's a raw deal for taxpayers. But for the mothers owed -- 82% of custodial parents are women -- it's the severing of an economic lifeline."
"Figuring out how to get deadbeats to pay up is another matter. It seems most of the problem is concentrated among a handful of bad actors. While only about 60% of the total money owed in child support each year gets paid, over 70% of families get at least something, according to Entmacher. It's at the bottom rung where most of the money is owed -- 11% of the debtors owe 54% of the money.
The government has several ways to make people pay up: it can garnish paychecks, intercept tax refunds or revoke state-granted privileges like driving or hunting licenses. To get out of paying, deadbeats will often take work in the underground economy to shield their income. Family courts are rife with tales where men with off-the-books jobs cry poor mouth to the judge, only to drive away in a Mercedes."
"Experts say more personnel at agencies enforcing child support payments, as well as a more active role played by the custodial parent in reporting people working off the books, may chip away at that $100 billion.
But there's also a sense that the courts have set unrealistically high child support orders and have been too inflexible when people genuinely lose their jobs and can't pay. For example, New York only recently modified its child support law to exempt payments (and interest charges) from people in prison."
""It becomes so impossible and irrelevant, they stop participating in the system," said Liberty Aldrich, general counsel for the Center for Court Innovation.
Still, experts urge caution when working toward reform. "It's ridiculous to have support orders against people in prison," said Caroline Kearney, a former family law coordinator at Legal Services NYC. "But I remember the bad old days, when courts would just look at how much income people had left over and ask them how much they could afford to pay.""
First of all, it's the children that are really on the losing end. By neglecting to support the children you helped bring into this world, you're not "exacting revenge" on the ex-spouse you dislike so much... you're denying your children the things they really need, like a decent roof over their head in many cases, or dental and eye care, or the happiness of what other kids receive for holidays, or even the basics like school clothes and supplies, or better foods.
As a stepmother who watched three children grow up without the help of the court ordered support they were supposed to receive, and all the extras they could have had through that help, I can't imagine why anyone would want to deprive kids of life's necessities and small pleasures.
And when deadbeats, some of them women, neglect their children in this manner, and the family has to take state welfare to make up the difference, it hurts others in a secondhand way... through tax rates. Personally, that's less of a concern I have than my concern for the well-being of all children, but I'm fairly certain a lot of taxpayers are miffed to find this out... that they're picking up part of the tab for deadbeat dads and moms.
What are your thoughts on this? How can the system be reformed so more children get the things they need in life... the things and services they deserve... that should come from child support, ordered by the court?
And remember... deadbeat parents will go so far as to remain unemployed on purpose, or will move to states that have exceedingly lax laws on child support, and won't cooperate with other states.
Here is a link that might be useful: Deadbeat parents cost taxpayers $53 billion