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San Jose Bankruptcy Attorney comments on how local government budget cuts are severely impacting child support collection efforts.

San Jose Bankruptcy Attorney   comments on how local government budget cuts are severely impacting child support collection efforts.

This recession has hit the public sector especially hard, as state and local governments have frozen payrolls, or in many instances, reduced the number of employees.  This reduction has hit hard in the child support enforcement efforts, on both the child support collection and prosecution sides.

Linda Jordan is owed more than $40,000 in child support by her ex-husband since her divorce was finalized in 2006.  The $73 per week in child support he was ordered to pay quickly fell into arrears.  In 2007 the judge raised the support to $236 per week and an additional $14 per week to allow him to get caught up on his child support, but that plan quickly fell through when he fell behind again.

It was then that she went to the prosecutor’s office seeking garnishment of his wages and tax returns.  Her case is compounded by the fact that she lives in Indiana, and her husband lives in Illinois.  The prosecutor’s office, like so many across the country, has had its budget cut as its caseload has increased.  The department has 53,000 open child support cases to handle with six full-time and one part-time deputy prosecutors and 20 caseworkers.

Adding to the congestion is that in Lake County, Indiana, only one court handles child support enforcement cases.  Despite pleas for an additional court, the tight budget makes the prospect of another court improbable in the near future.  The current court is scheduling cases more than six months in advance.  Despite the challenges, the office has succeeded in securing $29 million in support payments in the past year, in part by enforcing driver’s license suspensions, bankruptcy dismissals and withholding passports.

One of the factors that makes Lake County’s situation so difficult is that more than 40,000 of their cases involve children born out of wedlock, and paternity claims compound the child support collection problem.  The operative lesson here is to be very careful with whom you choose to procreate, because they may be part of your life for years after your relationship has ended.

Child support is a tale of two counties, Post-Tribune, December 6, 2009
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