More divorced Florida parents who have a formal child support agreement in place may be receiving assistance from the federal Child Support Enforcement Program, but fewer divorced parents overall have one compared to previous years, according to a study. Researchers found that in 2004, around 60 percent of eligible parents had such an agreement, but by 2014, the percentage had dropped to 49 percent.
The Child Support Enforcement Program was created almost four decades ago to help ensure that parents continue to support their children. There are a number of reasons that parents may fail to pay child support, but two of the major ones are poor employment prospects and their own financial struggles. It is possible that the program needs to shift toward assisting parents with job training and employment. Simply allowing the support to go unpaid is not the right solution because child support makes a significant difference in children’s lives.
Research links child support to fewer problems with behavior, a better relationship with the parent paying support and improved cognitive skills. Children thrive when they have access to the additional resources that two incomes can provide, and less stress for single parents means better outcomes for children.
Parents who are struggling to collect support and who have a formal agreement in place may go through legal channels to collect what they are owed. Actions taken might include garnishing wages, bonuses, tax refunds or other sources of income, but parents are not permitted to change the visitation agreement due to unpaid support. Conversely, a parent who is struggling to pay support due to a change in circumstances must request a modification, and an attorney can often be of assistance in this regard.