Recently, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reintroduced Senate Bill 508, the Strengthen and Vitalize Enforcement of Child Support (SAVE Child Support) Act.
According to the senators' websites, the purpose of the legislation is to provide states with tools and procedures to help them collect child support from parents who are not complying with their payment court orders.
Specifically, the SAVE Child Support Act provides that every state, including Texas, will be able to access a nationwide child support lien registry. The purpose of the lien registry is to allow liens to be placed against property in the event that a person falls behind in child support payments. The lien registry will help states easily identify these liens and where they are located.
Along with the lien registry, this Act also enables states to intercept payments that are made to individuals other than the parent receiving child support, in order to satisfy delinquent child support orders. Moreover, the Act strengthens procedures which allow for the revocation of non-custodial parents' certain licenses, permits, and passports when these parents fail to completely abide by child support orders. This part of the Act will require increased coordination between various child support agencies and license-issuing agencies.
Moreover, the bill also clarifies existing state jurisdictional rules in order to facilitate states' efforts to collect any and all outstanding child support orders, as well as expedites procedures for redirecting child support payments if the child has relocated. Importantly, the bill also improves the ability of the courts to enforce outstanding child support orders.
Along with these important measures affecting state procedures, the proposed legislation also encourages and facilitates coordination among the multiple child support agencies and corrections facilities to assist in managing and collecting on child support orders.
Finally, the bill also helps safeguard non-custodial parents' visitation rights by requiring states to report on any plans to facilitate or improve access to and visitation of children by their custodial and non-custodial parents. It will also implement measures to protect vulnerable families from any harassing or deceptive practices employed by private child support collection agencies. To do so, the bill extends existing federal debt protection laws to include these collection agencies.
This Act is introduced to address the nearly 11.5 million cases of delinquent payments of child support. This statistic comes from the Health and Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement FY 2011 Preliminary Report. According to this same report, the amount of child support that was due in FY 2009 totaled more than $33 billion and only 62% of that amount was actually collected. To put that in context, over $111 billion in child support was due for all previous fiscal years, but less than $8 billion were collected and distributed in 2011.