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One Perspective on Solving the Child Support Debt Crisis

An interesting article published by Pacific Standard magazine on July 17th takes a close look at how much debt is owed regarding child support payments in our country, and, much like student loan forgiveness, what types of innovative programs could be established to help pay off this debt more effectively to support American families.

For example, one of the programs that states are experimenting with—the Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration—allows parents to not only obtain expedited reviews of requests to modify child support orders that are in need of adjustment, but also provides them access to employment assistance and parenting classes.

Cycle of Poverty

Programs like these could arguably be most helpful to those who have the most difficulty meeting child support payments; low-income non-custodial parents who make less than $10,000 a year owe 70 percent of all of the debt, which is now up to more than $115 billion. Many of these individuals also have grim employment prospects, very little education, and a criminal record. On top of this, failing to make child support payments can result in losing your driver’s license, lower your credit score, and place you back in prison–all of which make it more difficult to make child support payments in general.

Pilot Debt Compromise Programs Making Headway

In addition, given that some states participate in wage garnishment for child support payments, some studies have shown that having child support debt can actually discourage some non-custodial parents from formally participating in the labor market. In the midst of this, many states have started participating in pilot debt compromise programs or settling child support issues on a case-by-case basis, attempting to find compromise in the moment in order to provides positive incentives and pave the way for higher child support payments in the future.

New Regulations

A number of new regulations have been proposed  that would go after how this debt accrues in the first place; for example, they would prohibit states from classifying prison time as “voluntary unemployment,” which prevents individuals who owe child support from filing for modifications in their child support orders and allows debt to accrue while these individuals are incarcerated. These regulations would also encourage state agencies to automatically modify child support payments if a parent becomes incarcerated. Many believe that establishing an appropriate amount to be paid in the initial child custody order and ensuring that that amount can easily be modified if need be is crucial to solving the child support debt issue in general.

Contact Us for Help with Child Support Modification

If you are located in Florida and need assistance with a child support modification, contact us at the office of Sandra Bonfiglio to schedule a consultation. We’ll go over all of your options and work to find a support arrangement that is financially feasible for you, and that also meets your family’s needs.

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