Unpaid child support can be a major social and economic concern for federal and state government agencies in Maryland charged with the enforcement of child support orders. When parents fail to pay their mandated child support, the costs for essential needs for the children can be transferred to society as a whole, or in many cases, parents and children can suffer due to an inability to pay for important daily expenses like medical and dental care, extracurricular needs and educational costs. In order to cut down on the personal and society-wide costs of unpaid child support, enforcing existing orders is a priority across the country.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is a federal agency that works to streamline state enforcement programs. Some of the most effective tools at its disposal are wage garnishments and payroll deductions for parents who fail to meet their support obligations. In 2016, around $33 billion was collected across the country from parents due to the OCSE’s systems; of that figure, around 75 percent came in through payroll withholding.

The OCSE is working to supplement and enhance these efforts by launching joint initiatives with payroll processors as well as employers and state agencies. In one example, many companies hire workers in multiple states and many struggle with requirements to report new hires and wages to individual states. By creating a multistate reporting system, OCSE helped states to identify workers who owe support payments while making it easier for employers to comply with reporting requirements.

While unpaid child support has major social costs, the effects are felt most keenly at a personal level by the single parents and children who are deprived of these needed funds. A family law attorney may be able to help a divorced parent to return to court to seek enforcement and collection of a child support order or make necessary modifications to ensure that support is paid.