The state of Maryland has reached out to low-income parents with unpaid child support, starting in Baltimore. Soon, the state discovered that fewer than 5,000 parents living in four small zip code areas in Baltimore alone owe more than $30 million in unpaid child support.
Most of that $30 million is actually ‘state-owed’, because the parents’ child support payments are supposed to go to state government to reimburse the taxpayers for the welfare provided to custodial parents by the state.
Why Aren’t Parents Paying?
In the surveyed area, which is known to be marked by drugs and poverty, most parents earn $10,000 or less per year. Government agencies that do eventually track these parents to try and collect unpaid child support have an impossible time of it since the parent literally cannot make payments due to poverty.
However, Joseph DiPrimio, director of the state’s child support enforcement office, refuses to call these parents ‘deadbeat’, and is adamant that most of them truly do want to contribute.
What Is Maryland Offering?
In an effort to provide relief and help to struggling parents, the state is offering a variety of opportunities to have quite a bit of that state-owed debt forgiven.
Some of the deals the state is offering include:
- Forgiveness of 10 percent state-owed child support if the parent takes a month-long employment training program with the Center for Urban Families and gets a job afterwards.
- Forgiveness of another 15 percent upon completion of the Center’s Responsible Father program.
- Forgiveness of 50 percent is offered to parents who have made consistent monthly payments for an entire year.
How Is the Program Helping?
So far the progress has been slow, with only a little more than 100 parents signing up in the two years since the program started. Some say the parents just aren’t open to trying anything. Researchers and other experts say that getting behind on child support is a great stress that often leads to depression and feelings of hopelessness that prevent struggling parents from trying to fix it. Many of these parents struggling with state-owed child support debt feel powerless and totally give up.
Officials, and those of us here, hope that more people will find out about Maryland’s relief efforts for low-income parents and give them a try.
The Law Offices of Kevin D. Judd strive to help families and individuals struggling with debt achieve financial freedom.