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Statistics reveal a statewide problem in child support collection

“[T]hey are not hard enough on the one that has to pay,” says one Florida stepmother, the custodial parent of a child in Highlands County. She speaks in obviously frustrated tones about the recurring problems she has had over many year in collecting child support payments that are owed to her by the child’s noncustodial parent.

Her frustration is far from being unique, either in her county or the state generally. Although she and more than 4,200 other custodial parents in Highlands County are owed monthly support payments, relevant statistics indicate that more than one-third of all payments due county residents are never collected.

Similar numbers apply to other counties throughout the state, with the Florida average for uncollected dollars reportedly being about three of every 10 owed.

Statewide, that amounts to a lot of money that is earmarked for children’s needs and never received. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Revenue says that about $4.85 million that was owed during the most recent fiscal year was never received.

Extrapolated even further, the numbers related to child support payments nationwide show a similar problem, with a U.S. Census Bureau report citing more than $14 billion owed by noncustodial parents. A recent media article addressing the subject states that some parents with payment duties “are adept at gaming the system.”

One factor that has been cited as being important in helping to ensure receipt of payments is an enduring bond between a child and his or her noncustodial parent, although the presence of ties can only go so far in some cases. Other factors -- notably a lack of formal education and unemployment or underemployment -- understandably undercut some parents’ ability to fully and timely satisfy their support obligations.

A proven Florida family law attorney with experience representing both custodial and noncustodial parents can answer questions and provide strong legal advocacy in a child support-related matter.

Source: Highlands Today, "One-third of child support is uncollected Census Bureau: More than $14 billiion owed to custodial parents," Gary Pinnell, Dec. 20, 2013

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