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Government works to improve child support payroll collection

One of the most contentious and difficult issues for many divorcing families in Washington State can be child support, especially its enforcement and collection. By using automated systems like payroll withholding, it has been possible to successfully obtain child support from many previously delinquent parents across the country. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) oversees this process, which also involves agencies in every state of the country. During 2016, nearly $33 billion in child support payments were collected by the agency, and of those, three-quarters were received through payroll withholding.

While the system is highly successful, the OCSE is working together with state agencies and payroll companies in order to further improve the process. Correctly identifying workers responsible for child support payments has been a barrier to successful enforcement. While all employers are required to report new hires within 20 days and then in quarterly reports thereafter, the use of multiple identification numbers has at times made it difficult to track down a particular worker. The OCSE is working to develop an improved system for clearer identification.

In addition, many companies hire workers in multiple states, and it can be confusing to ensure that hiring and wages are properly reported in the right place. The OCSE developed a multistate employer registry to allow companies to register online and then report all of their workers in only one state. By reporting the states where they are active, the OCSE can then access the necessary information.

All of the technologies that go into child support enforcement can make a real difference for families struggling to make ends meet following a divorce. When one parent is not paying their court-ordered child support, there are actions that can be taken. Families can work with a family law attorney to seek enforcement and implementation of the child support order, including through mandatory payroll withholding.

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