Wednesday, August 26, 2009

News - Collecting Child Support in Florida Worse Than Indiana's Owed child support in Florida? Good luck makes me glad to live in Indiana:

When a deputy sheriff banged on Cheryl White's front door one morning last summer, the family's basset hound, Freckles, began howling, and the ruckus awoke and frightened her teenage children. The deputy had come to arrest someone who had not been at the house for years: White's ex-husband, who owed about $10,000 in child support.

"He last lived at my house four years ago," said White, who recently lost her drafting job of eight years. "None of them had the address that I had given them for him four months earlier."

The episode was another in a series of dead ends that the Orlando woman hit during three years of trying to collect support through the state Department of Revenue, which is supposed to pass along support dollars for more than a million children. Five years ago, the department's now-retired director projected that Florida would lead the nation by 2008 in getting support payments to parents. Instead, Florida now lags most other states, and its performance has declined on most key measures:

•For every case the state handles, about $7,400 of support is past due, exceeding the national average.

•For every dollar of support owed, Florida collects 52 cents — down from 57 cents in 2004 and well below the state's goal of 64 cents.

•The percentage of those who are making payments to catch up on past-due child support has dropped to 62 percent from 67 percent in 2004.

Department of Revenue Executive Director Lisa Echeverri acknowledged that child-support collections have lagged, while noting that there has been an uptick during the past year. She said the department has had challenges shifting to an automated system that is five years behind schedule in becoming fully operational and whose price tag has more than doubled from the original $105 million.

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