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Payroll deductions critical in child support enforcement

Child support is determined in the best interests of the child, and in many cases in Texas, those funds may be necessary in order to cover the everyday expenses of the children's lives. Nevertheless, far too many separated families struggle with delinquent payments or the failure to pay mandated child support. At state and federal levels, unpaid child support has been identified as a major priority, due to the harms that a lack of sufficient support can cause to children. In many cases, this means that child support enforcement involves securing payments through wage garnishment or payroll deductions at the workplace.

While child support is handled by state agencies, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) works to coordinate and systematize state systems in order to promote multi-state enforcement. These efforts have been successful, and $33 billion in child support payments were collected through the federal system in fiscal year 2016. Of these, 75 percent were secured through payroll withholding. In order to improve the current system, the OCSE is working with payroll professionals, employers and state agencies to streamline and improve the system.

Worker identification is a major issue in child support enforcement. Due to shifting identification numbers and a lack of clarity on reporting requirements, it can sometimes be difficult to identify a delinquent parent. All employers must file new hire paperwork within 20 days of a new employee's start and quarterly reports thereafter; the OCSE is working to ensure that these reports enable state agencies to properly identify workers who owe child support.

When a parent refuses to pay their court-ordered child support, the consequences for the children can be serious. A family law attorney may be able to work with families struggling with this problem to modify existing support orders or pursue an enforcement action in court and work to ensure that the children receive the support they deserve.

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