September 28,2010

Bipartisan Measure to Strengthen Child Support Enforcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the “Strengthen and Vitalize Enforcement of Child Support (SAVE Child Support) Act.”  This legislation will give states the tools they need to collect child support from parents who do not pay their support orders. 

Menendez said, “Our bill will help states make dead-beat parents pay the child support they owe. It will help enforce interstate child support orders so that no parent can hide from their obligation to their children. It will strengthen existing child support enforcement laws by giving states more tools to enforce interstate child support orders, making existing enforcement procedures more uniform, and cracking down on the deceptive practices of private child support collection agencies.” 

Grassley said, “Ineffective enforcement of child support orders is a serious problem that threatens children’s well-being. Oftentimes a child support payment can help keep a struggling family out of poverty and off of welfare.  The purpose of this legislation is to improve child support collections while also focusing on the fact that noncustodial parents should have regular opportunities to see their children.”

Under the senators’ proposed legislation, each state would have access to a child support lien registry so that liens placed against property because of overdue child support can be easily found.  Additionally, the bill makes it easier for states to intercept payments made to individuals in order to satisfy child support orders by requiring automated data matches with state child support agencies.  The bill strengthens the procedures by which certain licenses, permits, and passports can be revoked by requiring greater coordination between child support agencies and license-issuing agencies, as well as requiring a passport to be restored only after complete repayment of arrears.  The bill also encourages state child support agencies to coordinate with state correction agencies to assist individuals with a support order to manage and fulfill their support obligations. 

According to the Health and Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement FY 2009 Preliminary Report, over 11 million cases had child support arrears due in FY 2009. The total amount of child support due for FY 2009 was over $32 billion and 62 percent of that amount was collected and distributed. The total amount of child support due for all previous fiscal years was over $107 billion and only $7 billion of these arrearages were collected and distributed in FY 2009, a decrease of 9.2 percent in comparison with FY 2008.

The SAVE Child Support Act will give states the tools they need to effectively collect child support.

The bill:

  • makes enforcement of child support liens more effective by requiring states to access a centralized database to check for liens placed against real property; 
  • facilitates the interception of personal injury insurance claims by requiring all state child support agencies to either join the Child Support Lien Network, a consortium of states and insurance companies that work together to match child support obligors with insurance claims, or join a similar network;
  • clarifies state jurisdictional rules to facilitate the collection of outstanding child support orders, expedites procedures for redirecting child support payments if the child has relocated, and streamlines and improves the ability of the courts to enforce child support orders.
  • increases the efficacy of withholding mechanisms by strengthening existing passport denial procedures and expediting the process by which states can suspend driver and professional licenses for non-payment;
  • encourages increased coordination between child support agencies and corrections facilities to manage child support orders;
  • protects the right of non-custodial parents to visit with their children by requiring states to report on plans to facilitate access to and visitation of children by their parents; and
  • protects vulnerable families from the deceptive and harassing practices of private child support collection agencies by extending federal debt protection laws to cover these companies.