There’s some sad news, some bad news and some good news on child support collections.
The number of births to unwed mothers is rising sharply in this country, although not as much as in Europe. This trend sets the stage for child support payment problems down the road, as a percentage of the unwed fathers will likely not make timely payments.
About $1.7 billion in child support is owed in this state alone. The troubled economy sets the stage for this number to get higher, as some non-custodial parents will be unable to keep up with support payments.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services continues to report record collections of child support payments. The amount collected in the first six months of fiscal year 2009 is greater than it was in the entire year of 2001.
Out-of-wedlock births — four out of 10 in the United States — not only affect the children. Society as a whole suffers because children in single-parent homes tend to do worse in school, commit more crimes and live in lower-income households.
DHS has the right to appropriate money from the federal stimulus package that would otherwise go to "deadbeat” parents, but the reason for the stimulus package — the national recession — will likely mean more non-custodial parents will be unable to make support payments in full. This is obviously true for those out of work.
Still, the state’s support payment collection system seems to be working, doing its best to offset the sad effects of societal trends.