Getting noncustodial parents to pay back child support is a goal long pursued by the Office of Child Support Enforcement in New York City. The office was established in 1975 and has since undergone many changes in the way it deals with parents who will not pay child support. A new report shows a shift in the OCSE’s strategies. Whereas punitive actions used to be the focus, the office is now employing more cooperative and supportive tactics to get custodial parents the funds they need for their children.

Identifying, tracking down and then punishing people who failed to pay child support was, in the past, the primary solution to the problem of back payments. Today, OCSE staff members are trying something new. The department is placing an emphasis on helping noncustodial parents find ways to keep up with payments as well as encouraging closer relationships between children and the parents with whom they do not live. The organization assists thousands of custodial parents, and their children receive money as well as health insurance.

The federal government is assisting with the new measures by offering incentives like grants to states if they make policy changes in line with a more family-centered approach and decrease child support debt, according to the report. These incentives might also encourage child support orders that are more realistic. Past laws established child support by using tax returns to determine parents’ combined income and then multiplying that by a certain percentage based on the number of children.

Parents who need further assistance in getting the financial support promised them by court orders and divorce agreements might benefit from consulting an attorney. Parents who need to modify agreements due to significant changes in circumstances could also get help from an attorney who could represent them during negotiations or represent them in family court.

Source: Amsterdam News, “New report shows city does more to help those paying child support“, Craig D. Frazier, July 31, 2014