The federal government agency known as Office of Child Support Enforcement’s (OCSE) collects data from each and every state on how much child support goes unpaid. As of last tally, from late 2017, OCSE shows about $114 billion dollars is in arrears from over 5 million parents.
Child support can be paid during a separation or post-divorce. The amounts can be determined by the courts, nuptial agreements, or independent mediation sessions. All of the money is intended to go help pay for expenses that are involved in raising the kids, whether for their school supplies, housing, food, education, or really anything.
As anyone knows who is going through a separation and/or divorce, the process is difficult. It touches upon finances, emotions, dissolving families, and much more. There are many articles on the process out there, and here is one about the emotional aspect of a separation. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/he-left-but-i-will-not-give-up-on-myself/
2017 child support arrears
Parents not paying child support, in which the money goes to help pay the bills of their kid is wrong and it is a crime per Section 228 of Title 18, United States Code on Child Support enforcement. The system is regulated by both local as well as federal government courts and OCSE. Not only is failing to pay what is due a crime, but is hurts the children much more than anyone else.
There are over 5.5 million delinquent noncustodial parents who are responsible for the over 110 billion due. This means that on average each parent owes $20,000 in debt to the other parent who is caring for their kids. We are sure that 20K can go a long way towards addressing the cost of raising a kid, which the Department of Agriculture says can cost $12,000 to $17,000 per kid for a middle income household. A small number of people are way overdue as well, as 3% of the non-paying parents owe over 100K in child support.
While some families can spend more each year on raising a kid, and some parents spend less (especially lower income families) that range is an average cost for one kid and does not include college costs. More kids will bring down the average cost due to “economy of scale” and shared expenses around housing, transportation, etc.
In addition, the Office of Child Support Enforcement’s also estimates that of the 100 billion plus, about 20% of that is owed to the government as part of unpaid taxes, fees, and other costs. This is about 20 billion dollars that the government could re-allocate in any way they want, whether for social services, child care programs, or anything.
Not paying child support can be very difficult for the kid and family, as I know first-hand. While we did not find the break-out of who is not paying, we assume much of the non-payment is from the father. We reported on how divorce can lead to poverty (especially for women and kids) and how so many single mothers and their children live in poverty now. The lack of child support being made by these 5.5 million noncustodial parents, and we assume mostly males, would be a big reason for that poverty.
Eventually the government will catch up to these 5.5 million people that owe over 100 billion dollars. The government can withhold future social security checks (which they did for my day when he was in his 60s) or income from a job. While the amounts withheld usually do not make up for the non-payment of child support that is owed by the deadbeat parent, people should know the system may catch up with you. Or in some cases the non-paying parent could be tracked down or arrested, as it is breaking the law.
We hope (for the sake of the kids) that the Office of Child Support Enforcement’s (OCSE), working with state and local courts and authorities, starts to whittle away at the 100 billion plus in unpaid support and that the deadbeat parents are forced to pay what they rightfully owe.