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Texas kids due nearly $10.8 billion in child support

There are two reasons 460,000 noncustodial Texas parents did not live up to the financial obligations they owed their children in 2011: Parents could not afford to pay child support or refused to make the payments.

State officials said about 40 percent of parents ordered to pay child support were behind in payments by at least one month. The U.S. Administration for Children and Families reported that $10.8 billion in Texas child support has not been paid.

The government tries to recover the back child support by garnishing a noncustodial parent's tax refunds and wages and by other means, but officials fail to do so. Many parents lost income or employment during the recession and have not been able to sustain child support or pay to request a support modification.

State agencies have recovered $3.5 billion in delinquent payments this year, a solid increase in collections, but only a small dent in the overall total owed. The victims of inconsistent or nonexistent support are Texas children. Census figures say about half of the state's single mothers are impoverished.

The state attorney general's office is focusing collection efforts on parents who have evaded child support obligations for years, including a 60-year-old man who owes nearly $180,000 for the support of two, now-adult children.

Not all child support "evaders" are men, however. Near the top of the most-wanted list is a 43-year-old Dallas woman who apparently has a child support bill of more than $51,000. Officials cannot locate these parents, many of whom may have moved out of Texas and even out of the country.

A noncustodial parent is required to share the financial support of children. Without that support, custodial parents may not be able to provide a child's basic needs for food, housing and clothing. Texas child advocates say it's hard enough on children when their parents go through a divorce. Losing a parent's emotional support and financial backing can be devastating.

Source: chron.com, "Texas parents owe nearly $11 billion in child support," Yang Wang, Oct. 1, 2012

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