A new report recently released by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement indicates that nearly $110 billion in back child support is owed across the country.
Our New York City child support attorneys understand that about half of that is to taxpayers who support children who rely on public assistance.
Specifically in New York City, statistics show some $731 million in support from deadbeat parents was collected last year. That's actually a substantial increase from where we were a decade ago. Before that, it was $700 million, and it's a roughly 50 percent increase from the support collected back in 2002.
One could argue that the city is getting better at getting deadbeat parents to pay up. But it may also have something to do with the fact that more custodial parents are pressing the issue of support, which is going to inflate those figures.
The aid collected last year by the city's Office of Child Enforcement breaks down to about $4,000 per family.
But part of what that report doesn't say is that the process for collecting child support can be arduous, especially when you're trying to do it on your own without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.
Representatives from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have been quoted as saying that it's one thing to win a judgment for enforcement. These matters are fairly straightforward once you establish paternity or parentage, and then calculate incomes and factor in the number of children. However, it's enforcement that becomes a problem.
In New York, the process is overseen by the Office of Temporary and Disability
Assistance, Division of Child Support Enforcement. Ultimately, it's headed by the governor. This body has the legislative authority to collect overdue support through a variety of methods, including:
- Submitting paperwork to the major consumer credit reporting agencies that will impact the non-custodial parent's credit score, and therefore ability to make large purchases;
- Interception of tax refunds;
- Work to seize financial assets and property in order to satisfy the overdue support;
- Suspend a driver's license;
- Deny a passport;
- Enact property liens;
- Apply penalties through tax collection.
Of course, all of this takes time. An experienced family lawyer can help you navigate a difficult process, and often can help expedite it by filing the proper forms and paperwork in a timely manner to the correct agency. Just like government support agencies, private attorneys can work to obtain license suspensions, garnish incomes, place liens on property and even file charges for contempt of court - and we can do it faster because we aren't dealing with the same level of backlog as the government.
It's estimated by the federal child support collection office that while 60 percent of all child support does get paid in full and at least 70 percent of custodial parents do receive at least some measure of support, some 11 percent of deadbeat parents owe nearly 55 percent of the outstanding support. These are the chronic abusers of the system, and in these cases, you need more help.
We do understand that parents who are relying on child support payments - and aren't getting it - may struggle with the question of whether to hire an attorney to help. But when you're desperate for payment, often hiring an attorney can be the best way to get the help you need.