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Government going after parents who don't pay child support

If you're a divorced parent with primary custody of your children, you know how important it is to get monthly child support payments. Most parents who once raised their children on two incomes and are now surviving on one will tell you that no matter how small, every child support payment counts. So when parents who owe those payments stop making them, both the receiving parent and the child feel the pain.

Parents who fail to pay child support are getting better at slipping away, according to government and law enforcement officials. If local officers are serving a warrant on a parent who has crossed state lines, they can't go after him or her. But if the total amount they owe tops $5,000, moving to another state becomes a felony and the federal government gets involved.

The feds are now stepping up their game by naming names. The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has developed a website intended to track down the top child support fugitives. No. 1 on the list is a man who owes more than $1 million.

If you follow sports and entertainment news, you might be aware that other top offenders include professional athletes, who should have enough bankroll to afford paying this court-ordered support. Former NBA player Tyrone Nesby recently pleaded guilty to failure to pay child support and is now paying nearly $1 million. NFL player Terrell Owens has tried to get his payments lowered, arguing that the tens of thousands of dollars he owes are based on a football salary he no longer earns.

While it can be hard to feel sympathy for those who earn such high salaries yet fail to pay the relatively minor cost of supporting their children, the majority of child support delinquents are making much less, and some simply can't afford the payments. But they still face that obligation, and they owe it to their children. Those who feel they're stuck may benefit from a modification, but first they need to come clean and admit that they're in arrears.

Source:, "Government goes after deadbeat parents," Jan. 18, 2011

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