Government works to improve child support collection

Unpaid child support and delinquent parents can be a major financial burden for many families in Florida, especially when that support is necessary to pay the bills and make ends meet for the children. Because unpaid support can have such a detrimental effect on children's lives, child support enforcement is a priority for federal and state agencies. One system that has successfully improved the collection of delinquent child support has been the use of automatic payroll withdrawals to support a child support obligation. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) oversees this process among state agencies involved.

During fiscal year 2016, nearly $33 billion in child support payments were successfully collected using these kinds of automated systems; of that amount, a full three-fourths was collected by using payroll withholding. In order to further enhance and improve this system, the OCSE is working with payroll companies, employers and state child support agencies to boost effectiveness.

Employee identification can be one barrier to successful implementation of child support enforcement via payroll withholding. While employers are required to report all new hires and follow up with quarterly reports, the use of different identification numbers can make it easy for some to fall through the cracks. OCSE is working to develop a system to make this process clearer. In addition, for employers with employees in multiple states, the reporting requirements can be particularly confusing. A multi-state registry allows these employers to fulfill their requirements with one complete report.

These enforcement technologies can be critical in implementing child support orders that go unpaid. During a divorce, child support and alimony issues can be some of the most contentious, but also the most important for a family's financial future. Families who are struggling with unpaid support may benefit from working with a family law attorney to take action to pursue enforcement of a support order through payroll withholding or other mechanisms.

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