June 12, 2014

 

States do not force parents to pay certain fees when the family is receiving public assistance directly but there is always some type of fees associated with the child support system.  According to the Fiscal Management Extranet or FMX based in Texas, courts are authorized to charge a fee to cover any court-ordered attorney fees. These fees are to be collected in addition to the actual child support payment.  The courts can also force payment for costs relating from an action to enforce child support withholding orders (FMX).  These withholding orders are forwarded to employers across the country. 

 

ADP is one of the leading payroll processing companies and has the responsibility of following federal regulations associated with income withholding.  ADP explains that most states allow an employer to charge a fee to the employee for the administrative costs of processing court-ordered support withholdings.  In most states, the fees range from $1 to $5 which is money that could be included in the actual payment or kept by the payee.  Other states charge much more for the same processing.  Texas and Washington both charge $10 for the first remittance but Washington charges an additional $1 for each deduction after the first, (ADP).  This money can add up quickly in states with a large number of child support orders and working parents.

 

For example, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), 2012, there was a total of 1,345,121 open child support cases on record.  For the sake of grasping the scope of the amount of money being charged, one might consider that these cases have not received any public assistance.  This number decreases to 895,805 when all cases related to public assistance have been eliminated.  For this example, when adding the number of parents that were employed and subject to wage withholding, employers would make quite a hefty sum.  When using the aforementioned scenario and data, Texas employers would have netted $4,299,025 in fees charged for processing income withholdings. 

 

Georgia charges a $25 fee for both filing an application for child support services and authorizes a $25 fee for employers to process the first deduction.  Employers are permitted to retain $3 after the first $25 is collected.  The fees, unfortunately, do not end there.  There is an annual maintenance fee of $25 and the charges associated with the 7% interest rate charged on all child support judgments.  Interest is charged automatically when the noncustodial parent becomes 30 days delinquent (Georgia Department of Social Services).  It becomes clearer how the child support system is not really about the welfare of the children.  This system is a multi-billion collection agency and there are plenty of businesses that have a hand in the collection pot.

 

For any parents that file a modification due to uncontrollable circumstance causing a decrease in monthly income, there is a hefty fee for this request.  According to the Georgia Department of Social Services, the non-refundable $100 fee is due for each child support case, regardless of the final result.  Since the approval of modifications are based on the judge’s discretion, people that pay the fee will be stripped of both their money and a decreased monthly payment.  This only increases revenues for the states.  This $100 fee could be better used to support the children that the system was supposedly designed to assist.  It seems more and more that the only beneficiaries of the child support system are the courts, local and state governments, and businesses. 

 

Banks are part of the scheme to make money off of the backs of innocent children too.   Due to the technological advancements of automated banking, child support payments are now uploaded to a bank card in almost all states.  Ohio uploads child support payments on an e-QuickPay card.  Each transaction comes with a cost.  There is a $.40 fee for balance inquiries and a $.75 fee for ATM withdrawals.  In 2012, OCSE reported having a child support caseload of 925,740 open cases in Ohio.  If every one on those cases collected child support on an uploaded bank card, the bank would profit $685,047.60 for withdrawals and $370,296 for balance inquiries.  This amount does not include the possible surcharges of $1 to $3 that may be charged by the banks that operate a particular ATM. 

 

It is clear that the government regulating the child support system benefits more from the money collected than the majority of the children that are supposed to be the beneficiaries.  The government places the blame on parents that cannot afford the payments and adds the label of a deadbeat as an extra insult.  The truth is that the government is the real deadbeat as they collect revenues on behalf of less fortunate children.  The banks and other private entities can also join the list of deadbeats as they nickel and dime parents to death before they release the money.  As long as we say nothing about these questionable tactics, the government will continue to grow their revenues while growing the debt owed by Americans who happen to be parents.  The only way to do this is to reform the system so that the best interest of children is truly observed.

 

References:

 

ADP, Inc (2014). Guide for child support and garnishment processing. Retrieved June 6, 2014, from http://www.adp.com/pdf/03-172-058.pdf

Child Support Withholding and Fees - Texas Payroll/Personnel Resource. (n.d.). Retrieved June 6, 2014, from https://fmx.cpa.state.tx.us/fm/pubs/paypol/mandatory_deductions/index.php?section=child_support&page=child_support

Georgia Department of Human Services (n.d.). Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) Fees | Division of Child Support Services. Retrieved June 6, 2014, from http://dcss.dhs.georgia.gov/office-child-support-services-ocss-fees

Office of ChildSupport Enforcement (2014, April 1). FY2013 Preliminary report. Retrieved June 6, 2014, from www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/fy2013-preliminary

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (2013, September 30). ODJFS Online | Office of Child Support. Retrieved June 6, 2014, from https://jfs.ohio.gov/Ocs/OCSFAQs.stm

 


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