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Unpaid child support: reasons vary, but numbers add up

Whether someone owes child support or has been ordered to pay it, the issue of child support is often fraught with tension.

In South Florida and across the nation, this remains the case. As we discussed in our November 4 post, the Great Recession has only compounded the problem by making it more difficult for many non-custodial parents to get or keep jobs to maintain sufficient income to make child support payments.

In this post, we will discuss another aspect of child support, namely the issue of collection efforts.

Overall, the average amount of uncollected child support in Florida is 31 percent.

In a state as big and wealthy as Florida, that of course adds up to a lot of money. According to the Florida Department of Revenue (FDOR), the amount last year was $4.85 million.

To be sure, the state does not have significant tools at its command to facilitate collection. It can, for example, take someone’s driver’s license away.

Many parents with unpaid support debts, however, may choose to take their chances with driving without a license.

Another tool is taking someone’s tax refund. In many industries, though, someone who has unpaid child support obligations may be able to get around this. In a field such as construction, for example, workers can often arrange to get paid in cash.

The issue is a national one. The U.S. Census Bureau has put a dollar figure on it: $14 billion. That is the amount owed by noncustodial parents, according to bureau, in unpaid child support.

Source: Highlands Today, “One-third of child support is uncollected,” Gary Pinnell, Dec. 20, 2013