Unpaid child support can impose a severe burden on many single parents and their families in California. Court-ordered child support is meant to help cover the daily costs of raising a child, and when it is delinquent, parents may find it next to impossible to make ends meet. Child support funds can pay important costs for the children, including medical and dental costs, educational fees and other expenses. Because unpaid child support can have a major impact on children's health and well-being, enforcement of support orders is a priority for both state and federal agencies.
One of the most effective mechanisms of collecting delinquent support and enforcing ongoing collection is the use of wage garnishment and payroll deductions at a parent's place of work. Though child support matters are generally handled as part of state law, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, or OCSE, works to improve communication and processes across the country. Through fiscal year 2016, the OCSE collected $33 billion in child support across the country, and around three-fourths of those funds came in through direct payroll withholdings.
While the system has been successful, the OCSE has identified areas for ongoing improvement and is working with employers, state agencies and payroll companies and professionals to do so. For example, new hire paperwork can be a major concern, especially when the use of different identification numbers makes it difficult to follow up on a particular worker. The OCSE is developing plans to help ensure that employers are complying with reporting obligations.
People who are struggling to make ends meet due to ongoing unpaid child support can take action to make a change in the situation. A family law attorney may help people dealing with a delinquent parent to pursue child support enforcement and collection processes, including returning to court to seek implementation of an existing order.