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Unpaid child support affects children, and taxpayers?

Many Alabama residents understand that a divorced individual’s failure to pay for a child’s upbringing can be economically devastating for the other parent. Less known is the effect that unpaid child support has on taxpayers.

Surprisingly, over $100 billion in unpaid child support was owed to parents in 2009, with nearly half of that amount being owed to taxpayers. The taxpayer involvement occurs when children need to go on public assistance. In those instances, back payments of child support are supposed to be reimbursed to the government.

While this may anger some taxpayers, the situation becomes dire for the custodial parents who are faced with the financial hardship of raising their child without proper economic assistance. Statistics show, however, that much of the delinquent payments, 54 percent, is owed by just 11 percent of debtors.

To combat a person’s failure to pay child support, there are multiple ways of enforcement. A nonpaying person may see his tax refunds withheld, wages garnished or property seized. The government also has the power to revoke state-granted privileges like driving and hunting licenses, which can drastically affect those who refuse to make payments.

As a last resort, those who do not make child support payments may be held in contempt and thrown in jail. Of course, this is disfavored because the person cannot make further payments if his income source is disrupted.

These remedies demonstrate, however, the importance placed on enforcing child support orders and the impact it can have on the custodial spouse and the children. Ultimately, if a parent is having trouble obtaining child support payments, it may be best to work with a qualified family law attorney who can guide them through the process.

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