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Past due on child support? Paperless process could cost you everything 3

It is hard to argue that there is no child support crisis in Illinois. The most recent data available shows that the Office of the Attorney General collected $190 million in child support from 89 of the state's 102 counties. The question is, how much of that money goes to the families, and how many support payments go into the state's coffers?

The state is allowed to collect money from noncustodial parents even though the children are grown up and on their own. The reason? For many families, the lack of timely child support payments meant going to the state for help. The state keeps track of what it pays, and the law allows states to look for reimbursement from the parents who were in arrears.

It looks fair on the surface. The state paid for things the child support payments would have covered, and now, even years later, it wants its money back. In reality, though, some of those debts are decades old. The children are grown. And, at times, the balance due reflects fines and interest on fines rather than the total owed to the child in the first place.

When the Department of the Treasury announced its intention to stop mailing paper checks to recipients of federal benefits, a new opportunity for states to collect past due child support presented itself. States will have access to 100 percent of the federal benefits that debtor dads had taken in cash before.

We will finish up this discussion in our next post.

Source: Associated Press, "Child support debts may leave some with no income," Daniel Wagner, Feb. 27, 2012

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