Discuss the pros and cons of child support enforcement. What policy recommendations would you provide to your local state representative to assure that child support is enforced so that children have food, clothing, and shelter?

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Child support enforcement ensures that children who are living in the household of the custodial parent are receiving the material support of both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent. It is all too often that an absent biological parent fails to provide financial support for their child. Unfortunately, a...

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Child support enforcement ensures that children who are living in the household of the custodial parent are receiving the material support of both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent. It is all too often that an absent biological parent fails to provide financial support for their child. Unfortunately, a state order to pay child support that is enforceable through certain parameters may be the only measure that ensures follow-through on the part of the non-custodial parent.

Currently, states can use a number of methods to enforce child support when a non-custodial parent is attempting to avoid payment. These methods include the following:

  • Interception of state and federal tax refunds
  • Asset seizure on personal property owned by the non-custodial parent
  • Filing a court action
  • Point deduction on credit score
  • Driver's license suspension or revocation
  • Passport denial
  • Civil or criminal contempt charges

The following are pros of using child support enforcement:

  • Consistent financial support for the custodial parent and child that ensures a child won't have to go without basic needs due to the unwillingness of a parent to care for their child.
  • The state handles collection of money and therefore reduces verbal or in-person interaction of parents who are not on friendly terms.
  • Unless the non-custodial parent is self-employed, the enforcement agency is able to ensure child support is paid through directly collecting the money from a pay check, disability check, benefits, and so on.
  • There is expert oversight in the case of disputes.

The following are cons of using child support enforcement:

  • Collection errors are known to occur due to the size and scope of the child support enforcement agency. This can result in too much of the non-custodial parent's pay being deducted for support.
  • Involving the state and attending court hearings can create higher tensions between parents, which can therefore affect the child(ren). Children are often negatively psychologically affected during child support disputes.
  • The Child Support Enforcement Bureau is unable to enforce payment on inconsistent expenses, such as medical bills, recreational activities, and so on, which can result in the custodial parent shouldering much more of the financial burden.

If I were to contact my state representative to suggest policy recommendations for improved child support enforcement, I would propose that agencies that provide forms of state assistance deny or remove an individual from that assistance, such as food stamps, if the individual is a non-custodial parent who is court ordered to pay child support and has been unwilling to provide support. This policy recommendation should not flippantly be used to further impoverish struggling people through denying them welfare, but it should be a measure to enforce child support when a non-custodial parent refuses to pay when they otherwise have the financial means to do so. Child support payments are crucial for low-income single parents who are struggling to make ends meet, and a non-custodial parent who refuses to financially assist their child should not be eligible to receive state assistance.

While enforcement through consequence is necessary to ensure child support is paid, states can also offer more supportive measures to a non-custodial parent who is struggling to generate enough income to meet their financial obligations. This can look like offering job training programs or providing state assistance to attend institutions of higher education or vocational schools. If a non-custodial parent is not unwilling but is merely struggling to pay the amount of income generated, supportive measures could help ensure that the non-custodial parent meets the required payments.

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