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Not paying child support hurts more than just children

Failing to provide financial support for one's children, even if they are in another parent's custody, is enough on its own to warrant a not-so-nice parental status. However, parents who neglect their child support payments may be hurting more than just their kids. According to a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, non-paying non-custodial parents are hurting taxpayers as well.

When a non-custodial parent fails to pay child support, increased pressure is placed upon the custodial parent. This, in turn, puts extra pressure on state public assistance programs, which often must step in to provide for the needs of families of limited means. Since public welfare programs are funded by taxpayer dollars, this means American citizens are paying for their fellow citizens' negligence.

In Minnesota alone, the total amount of unpaid child support exceeds $1.5 billion. Approximately 80 percent of the cases in the system are in debt. Many other states, though, fare far worse. Minnesota currently ranks fourth in the nation in terms of the percentage (70) of its past-due cases in which at least some payments are being made. In almost half of these cases, 75 to 100 percent of the owed amount is paid.

Given the detrimental effect delinquent child support payments can have not only on the afflicted families, but on the larger economy, it is no surprise that states have ways of collecting payment from parents in arrears. One such tool the state employs frequently is intercepting tax refunds. If a non-custodial parent is in arrears on child support and he or she is due a refund on his or her taxes, the state will step in and reroute the refund to the custodial parent.

In addition, the state can also freeze assets and garnish wages. Indeed, one's financial freedom can be severely limited if child support payments are owed.

Source: Public News Service, "Unpaid Child Support Puts Pressure on State Programs, Taxpayers," John Michaelson, Aug. 13, 2012.

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