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Billions owed in back child support

When a couple divorces, or when two unmarried people share a child, a court of law can determine the amount of child support the non-custodial parent has to pay. If the non-custodial parent cannot or refuses to pay the child support, the parent with custody may be forced to seek financial assistance from the state to help make ends meet.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement states that $108 billion in back child support was owed to custodial parents in 2009. When a custodial parent seeks financial assistance from the state, the child support payments are paid to the state as reimbursement for the assistance paid to the custodial parent. Half of those funds, $53 billion, have yet to be paid. This creates a financial bind for both the custodial parents and taxpayers who are forced to make up the difference.

For many custodial parents, child support makes up approximately 45 percent of their income. It is the lack of child support that causes 41 percent of single households led by women to live below the poverty level. That number is twice the number of households led by single men, and five times the number of two-parent households. This keeps custodial parents from taking their children to the doctor and dentist, and otherwise providing for their families.

Although the government can use wage garnishment, revocation of hunting and driver's licenses, and tax refunds seizure to recoup the back support owed, if parents don't want to pay, they can often find a way to circumvent the system. Most common are those who work jobs that pay under the table, so the income isn't reported.

If a custodial parent is owed back child support, it is in the parent's best interest to learn about any form of recourse the parent has to receive the money owed to them.

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

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