Too Poor to Pay Child Support

In the U.S., even though nearly one in four children should be receiving child support, only 62% of the money owed is actually being paid. To get a sense of who these deadbeat parents are, or rather where they are living, consider the data.

Nationwide Data

According to the Census Bureau ACS HHS Office of Child Support Enforcement, the poorer the state, the less able the state is to collect child support. This relationship between poverty and the child support system hints at the fact that often the print required to pay child support simply can’t afford to. As a result, the debt piles up.

Below the Poverty Line

2011 data shows that 27% of parents who were supposed to receive child support lived below the poverty line. Only 40% of those parents received their full child support payments. 27% received nothing at all. These families are in need of that money. But what about the parents who are supposed to pay child support? They’re mostly poor too.

Too Poor to Pay

A 2004 study noted that 70% of people required to pay child support made less than $10,000 a year, or had no reported income. With that statistic is seems unlikely that they will ever be able to pay off their obligations. As a result, the interest and penalties will just grow over time.

Because of this problem, some states have experimented in using debt forgiveness as an incentive to pay child support. A program in Wisconsin showed generally positive results. Parents were able to collect more money after they were told that past debt would be reduced by 50 cents or more for every dollar they paid in cild support going forward.

Source: The Washington Post, How our child support system can push the poor deeper into poverty, September 26, 2014

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