Magnitude of Child Support Delinquencies

According to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), child support delinquencies currently amount to over $56 billion. Other estimates put arrearages including those not reported to the government, as high as $200 billion.

Child support arrears grow at a rate of $125 per second, $7,500 per minute and $450,000 per hour. Average consumer debt is $300 while average child support arrears total $10,000.

According to a 1995 GAO report, state agencies and counties in 37 states are either currently contracting with or are planning on contracting with private collection firms to recover past-due child support.

Of the $13 billion listed as receivable child support handled by government IV-D agencies. $6.9 billion was collected in fiscal year 1993.

Wage garnishment off-set of state or federal refunds, and withholding of unemployment compensation are the most successful methods of collecting child support by government, accounting for 63.6 percent of total collections in FY 1993. Child support is not dischargeable under bankruptcy.

Obstacles affecting the current government child support collection system include:

  1. lack of automation
  2. State and federal budget cuts resulting in the termination of training for judges,
    personnel and legislatures relating to child support enforcement
  3. unattachable income of self-employed parents the absence of uniform interpretation of laws and regulations.

In August 1996, Ohio passed landmark legislation allowing government to charge the non-paying parent a collection fee when using private collectors as an enforcement mechanism.

There are three approaches to collecting due child support: A custodial parent can contract directly with a private collector; a custodial parent can contract with the state or county; or the state or county can contract with a private collector.

The collection of child support does not fall under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Recently, the U. S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Mabe vs. G. C. Services Limited Partnership (32 F. 3rd 86, January 1995) that since the collection of child support results from a court order and not a consumer transaction, the FDCPA does not apply.

For more information contact:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 401-9200

National Child Support Enforcement Association
44 North Capitol Street, #613
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 624-8180

TEL (612) 926-6547 FAX (612) 926-1624





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