DHS: Unemployment Impacting Child Support

By: Ashley Conroy Email
By: Ashley Conroy Email

Sarah Criss is a single mom of two children. One is married and on his own, but her daughter still lives at home.

And for years, Criss supported both children on a nurses' salary, until she had to go on disability. Since then, it has been a struggle for her to receive a child support payment.

"We depend on that money," said Criss. "That money is grocery money. It's food for the children. It's utility money."

But her case isn't like the '10 most wanted' faces pictured by DHS. Most of those guys are yet to be found and owe thousands of dollars.

Criss says, in her case, often they receive just enough money so the father gets by, without going to jail.

"The child never received the full amount. We would receive a percentage, which would keep the absent parent out of jail," Criss said.

DHS says, since the economy has gone down more and more, cases have popped up around the state of parents not being able to pay child support.
Director of child support enforcement, Wallie Naylor, says last year the agency had about 4 times as much collected in unemployment payments. So far, this year is looking the same.

"We are going to have at least $4 million intercepted again in unemployment payments," said Naylor.

Of the 360,000, about 55 percent have a court order on them. About half are not paying because of unemployment. But services are offered to help them find a job.

"Job training, job prep, you know, if he needs to learn how to present himself in such a way to get a job," Naylor said.

Criss says, in her case, the father is working. But after getting help with DHS, she's confident that her daughter can get the support she needs.

"But do persevere and someone will eventually listen to you," said Criss.

DHS also says when a parent can't pay because of unemployment, often that means they go back to the court system and both parties' pay is adjusted.

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