Every child has a right to support from his or her parents. But for some reason, not all parents abide by their orders to pay child support, thus depriving their children of the right to support. In the United States, the amount of unpaid child support is shocking. According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, $108 billion is the total amount of back payments owed to children in 2009.
Because the parents are failing to support their children, the burden then falls on the government and taxpayers everywhere, including Michigan. The children who don’t receive enough money to live need to be placed on public assistance. This means that the government pays almost half of the money owed in back payments, totally nearly $53 billion.
Although this number may seem high, for custodial parents, 82% of which are mothers, government assistance is the only means of survival once the child support payments stop. Especially for mothers struggling financially, child support payments can account for almost half of their total income. Failures to pay child support can easily thrust a single mother below the poverty level.
So the next step is figuring out how to get dads and other parents to pay support. The government has a number of tools available to make the payments happen, such as taking away state license rights for driving and hunting, garnishing paychecks and seizing tax refunds.
Another option is to increase the personnel at child support enforcement agencies and get more people working on the problem. Custodial parents should also stay very involved in the issue and not let the problem go ignored. Custodial parents can report non-payment but can also divulge tips about parents working underground as a means to keep their income away from the government.
While it is important to lessen the burden on taxpayers, the real victims here are the children who are denied their right to child support and sometimes forced to live in poverty because of failed payments. Parents should not be afraid to seek legal assistance to force payments or if a child support order seems too high, an attorney may be able to help modify the order so that a non-custodial parent is able to start making payments.
Source: CNN Money, “Deadbeat parents cost taxpayers $53 billion,” Steve Hargreaves, Nov. 5, 2012