Child Support Enforcement
Summary in Divorce
Child support enforcement is a major problem in America because a surprising number of parents simply drift away from their children after a divorce. When parents act in bad faith, aggressive methods of collection come into play. Courts take child support seriously. Child support cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Both civil and criminal contempt of court are extreme actions taken in response to delinquent support.
On a local level, the courts use bench warrants and arrest to deal with parents who fail to pay support, but this is usually a last resort because jailing a payor means the deadbeat pays nothing. Child support cannot be avoided by crossing state lines because all states have now passed the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (RURESA), which coordinates state efforts at enforcement of child support, and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which provides for cooperation among the states in enforcement of support. Moreover, the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 authorizes the Department of the Treasury to withhold tax refunds to cover delinquent tax refunds or to pay delinquent child support. In addition to garnishments, other child support enforcement tools include attachments, which are liens against property, and security or bonds, which are guarantees of future payment. On a state level, the Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSE) of each jurisdiction gathers information, establishes parentage and collects child support. This agency can help a custodial parent attach a wage garnishment to a former spouse’s income, accept payments from a noncustodial parent and distribute them, track a payment history, follow up on delinquent payments, insure that the child’s health insurance is in place, monitor a spouse’s employment efforts (when nonpayment results from job loss), and work with a spouse to make back payments. Improved technology has also come into play against deadbeat parents. The Automated Child Support Enforcement System (ACSES) is a new computerized network used in most jurisdictions to collect child support. This system has helped diminish the amount of unpaid support and has allowed for a greater opportunity to collect back-due child support. Nongovernmental agencies also are available to help custodial parents. The Association for Children for the Enforcement of Support (ACES), the largest nonprofit child support group in the United States, assists disadvantaged children affected by parents who fail to meet their legal, moral and financial obligations to support them. The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support: www.childsupport-aces.org. The telephone number is 800-537-7072.
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