Government owed more than $50 billion by deadbeat parents

Unpaid child support costs taxpayers in Minnesota and the rest of the United States about $53 billion. Delinquent parents owed $108 billion in back child support payments to custodial parents in 2009, according to the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement.

When child support payments are not received and the government needs to step in with public assistance, the non-custodial parents are supposed to pay the funds back to the government. Of the outstanding debt, about 49 percent is owed to the government.

Of the parents who are owed the money, 82 percent are mothers and child support is estimated to account for 45 percent of their income, says one expert. Five times as many households headed by single women sit below the poverty level than do those of married couples.

No one has ever figured out a way to successfully get the parents who are the worst offenders to pay the child support that is due. According to statistics, only about 60 percent of the money owed in child support annually is paid. At the same time, more than seven out of every 10 custodial parents receive some amount of support.

Still, that does not make much of a dent in the overall problem of outstanding child support. Statistics show that 54 percent of the amount due is owed by just 11 percent of the financially delinquent parents.

The government can try to recoup money by seizing tax refunds, garnishing paychecks or withholding licenses for things such as driving or hunting until obligated parents pay what they owe. But chronic deadbeat parents often find ways around the system, such as working for cash under the table so that they show no income.

As this post notes, there are no easy solutions to the overall problem of unpaid child support. That doesn't mean we stop trying. Enforcement must continue. There are also avenues available to seek modifications of payments so that parents who may be in dire financial straits can continue to do something to contribute to the welfare of the children they helped create.

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

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