Assessing Child Support Arrears in Nine Large States and the Nation

07/11/2007

Assessing Child Support Arrears in Nine Large States and the Nation

Authors: Elaine Sorensen, Liliana Sousa, Simon Schaner The Urban Institute

July 11, 2007

Prepared for:Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) andOffice of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Contract #: 233-02-0092

This report is available on the Internet at:http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/07/assessing-CS-debt/index.htm

Printer Friendly PDF version (45 pages) (This report is available in PDF format only.)

Contents

Executive Summary (in PDF format, 12 pages)

Acknowledgments

Chapters:

  1. Introduction
    1. An Overview of the Nine Study States
    2. High Debtors Owed Most of the Arrears
    3. Nearly All Obligors owed Arrears but the Amount the Typical Obligor Owed was less than $5,000
  2. Who Owes Child Support Arrears?
    1. Obligors with No or Low Reported Income Held Most of the Arrears
    2. Obligors Who Did Not Pay Support in the Last Year Owed a Disproportionate Share of Arrears
    3. Obligors with Arrears-Only Cases Owed a Disproportionate Share of Arrears
    4. Obligors with Older Orders Owed a Disproportionate Share of Arrears
    5. Obligors with Multiple Current Support Orders Owed a Disproportionate Share of Arrears
    6. Obligors who had Orders that Represented Fifty Percent or More of their Reported Income Owed a Disproportionate Share of Arrears
    7. Interstate Cases, Out-of-State Cases, and Obligors Without a ZIP Code Owed a Disproportionate Share of Arrears
    8. Orders Established at Least One Year Before or After the IV-D Case was Opened Owed a Disproportionate Share of Arrears
  3. How Collectible Are Arrears?
    1. Assumptions Used in the Simulation Models
    2. Payment Rates Generated by the Simulations
    3. Arrears Growth Under Two Simulation Models
    4. The Impact of Assessing Interest on Arrears
  4. Why Have Arrears Grown?
    1. Charging Interest Routinely Resulted in Significantly Higher Arrears
    2. Assessing Retroactive Support Contributes to Arrears
    3. Low Compliance Rates on Current Support Orders Contribute to Arrears
    4. Arrears Payments are Low
  5. Arrears Management Strategies In Study States
    1. Prevent Arrears from Accruing in the First Place
    2. Manage Existing Arrears
    3. Final Comments Regarding Arrears Management

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Jennifer Burnszynski and Dennis Putze, the Project Officers for this project, for their invaluable oversight. We also wish to thank the nine study states and their staff who provided the data that we use throughout this report. Views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

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