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National unpaid child support tops $100 billion

It's no secret that unpaid child support is a huge problem in North Carolina and across the country. Every month, thousands of single-parent families are forced to make do with less, and thousands of non-custodial parents slide deeper into debt. Many North Carolinians may not know the massive extent of the problem, however. New data from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement has revealed that the country's non-custodial parents owe approximately $108 billion in back child support payments.

The odd thing about this number is that approximately half this amount is not owed to children or their custodial parents. $53 billion of the overall total is actually owed to the government. This is because when custodial parents do not receive child support, they often are forced to apply for public assistance. But all public assistance must be reimbursed, and this burden falls upon the non-custodial parent, who must then pay his overdue child support to the government. The upshot is that unpaid child support not only hurts single-parent families, but the American taxpayer as well.

Unfortunately, it's not always easy to recover back payments. Some non-custodial parents will resort to deception to keep from paying child support. For example, some parents will only take jobs that pay under-the-table salaries, allowing them to feign poverty in the courts. Custodial parents who are faced with this sort of trickery may require the assistance of an experienced attorney to help protect their right to receive child support.

In other cases, however, non-custodial parents may find that the financial burden of child support is simply too oppressive. This is particularly true if the parent experiences a sudden economic misfortune, such as a loss of employment. In this case, child support debt can accrue uncontrollably, quickly reaching insurmountable quantities. Parents may then feel discouraged, and simply stop trying to pay any child support at all.

When a non-custodial parent experiences a change in their living situation that prevents them from making their child support payments, he or she may apply for a child support modification. A child support modification alters the amount that a non-custodial parent owes each month to better reflect the parent's current economic standing. It can be a complicated legal procedure, but when it is complete, non-custodial parents will be in a position to more consistently provide support for their children.

Source: CNN Money, "Deadbeat parents cost taxpayers $53 billion," Steve Hargreaves, Nov. 5, 2012

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