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Roaring Spring:

Most child support is collected through payroll deductions

Most noncustodial parents in Pennsylvania and around the country have their child support payments deducted electronically from their paychecks. Payroll deductions accounted for $24.4 billion of the $32.4 billion in child support collected in 2017 according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The federal agency oversees child support collection in the United States and coordinates with local, state and tribal authorities to encourage responsible parenting and ensure that the financial needs of children are met.

Payroll deductions are set up when the OCSE notifies employers that a new worker has child support obligations. Employers are required to submit new hire reports to the OCSE whenever workers are taken on, and they can also use the agency's online portal to report any lump-sum payments in excess of their normal compensation. The OCSE says that it received more than 67 million new hire reports in 2017.

Collecting child support electronically also saves money. For every dollar spent by the OCSE, the agency says that it collects $5.33 in child support. According to a senior OCSE figure, payroll companies and human resources departments deserve much of the credit for these figures. The agency also collaborates closely with trade groups like the American Payroll Association.

Electronic payroll deductions are an efficient way to collect child support payments, but noncustodial parents may seek to avoid their responsibilities by working as independent contractors or taking off-the-books jobs. Experienced family law attorneys may use skip tracing techniques to locate noncustodial parents who are working under a false name or being paid in cash. Attorneys might also work with state and local authorities to ensure that delinquent child support payments are made. In addition to payroll deductions, child support may be collected by seizing the assets of noncustodial parents, withholding their income tax refunds or lottery winnings or suspending their driving privileges.

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