The amount of unpaid child support in the United States is over $110 billion, and many states have all but given up attempting to collect it. Although some believe this is because there are deadbeat parents that refuse to live up to their obligations, in many cases, these parents are willing but unable to do so.
Many who owe outstanding child support make less than $10,000 a year, so even if the state is able to track down non-paying parents, it still is unable to collect the funds. Not helping this is that studies are showing that owing large amounts of child support can make parents feel overwhelmed and result in their giving up on even attempting to catch up.
There are some states that are taking a different tack with trying to collect support. Texas has started reaching out to parents who owe child support and are incarcerated, letting them know that while they are in prison, their payments could be reduced. In Maryland, the state is offering parents forgiveness of half of the amount of child support that they owe if they make minimum monthly payments for at least a year.
While child support is essential for many single parents, it is important that the amount that a paying parent is obligated to provide is manageable. When a parent is truly unable to meet those obligations due to an unexpected financial downturn, such as a job loss or a medical emergency, a family law attorney might assist in preparing and filing with the court a request for a modification of the original support order. It is important to know that, even if granted, it would not affect any arrearages.