& The Department of Revenue's Failure to Collect Past Due Child Supportby Andreka Byers 6/18/10
The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) Child Support Enforcement is only capable of enforcing its laws and guidelines for collecting from non-custodial parents who stay on-the-grid. As a norm, once a deadbeat, non-custodial parasite perfects the art of living off others, working under the table, and possessing nothing of value in their own name – the system has no recourse for such off-the-grid artists.
FACT #1: The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) Child Support Enforcement is a statewide failure.
FACT #2: The Florida Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) is ineffective.
FACT #3: My child's father is a deadbeat.
FACT #4: The Florida child support system is flawed.
Glitches in the system can allow one deadbeat, serial baby maker to owe an excess of 6 digits in back pay. Garnishment (wages, tax returns, unemployment benefits, or workers' compensation benefits) is out of the question if there's nothing to garnish. And frankly, the threat of garnishment, property lien, license suspensions, or damage to credit bureau reports are moot points to someone who would rather not work than take care of his/her responsibilities. The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 makes it a felony to flee
to another state or country in order to avoid child support payments. But my deadbeat baby's father, who did not flee the state, just simply chooses not to work and happily falls through the system's cracks.
According to DOR's Child Support website, "Every child has the right to financial and medical support from both parents. Our goal is to assure families receive the child support they need and deserve.
The services we provide include locating parents, establishing paternity, and establishing, enforcing and modifying support orders."
I am a single mother with a college degree, and I only have ONE child. So, before you pass judgment or jump to conclusions -- I am not a single mother with 5 kids from 5 different baby daddies looking to live off vouchers, food stamps, SSI, and cash assistance. And like so many other single mothers (and fathers) in Florida, regardless of the number of sperm or egg donors involved, I am stuck in a system full of unchecked and unresolved bureaucratic defects. DOR fails to enforce and, subsequently, collect from deadbeat parasites that fester under the radar.
According to OPPAGA (Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability), "in federal Fiscal Year 2007-08, the program reports that [DOR] collected 52% of child support payments owed. This falls below the department's legislatively approved standard of 64%. As of June 2009, the program estimates that the collection rate for federal Fiscal Year 2008-09 will again be 52%."
What is OPPAGA? "OPPAGA is a legislative research unit that reviews state agencies and programs to identify opportunities to improve services and reduce costs of services to Florida's citizens and visitors."
DOR cannot garish wages for someone who chooses not to work. So, by the great power invested in DOR, in conjunction with DCF--with their meager authority--DOR passes their enforcement responsibility to USPS. Yes, the United States Postal Service! When USPS fails to deliver or verify the address for one of DOR's Hey, Deadbeat, We're Looking for You letters, DOR blames their inability to locate a non-custodial parent on the postal service.
As a result of my child's deadbeat, non-custodial parent running amuck, DOR suspends his driver's license as punishment: Get caught driving on a suspended license, we'll give you a ticket – even for repeat offenders. If you show up for court, we'll put you on probation. If you violate your probation -- don't worry about your unpaid child support payments; we may lock you up for a couple of months, if we feel like it. Then, we'll set you free and the process starts all over, again. Never mind the fact that your back payments continue to accumulate. We will just continue to play this cat and mouse game until the months add up to years – meanwhile the child goes without.
So who cares, right? Or better yet, why should Florida's taxpayers care? Your tax dollars (federal and state), funneled away from education and other vital programs, are being used to fund this cycle: salaries for state workers, tying up the court system, DOR footing the bills as DCF provides shoddy assistance to those families in need, etc.
DOR, according to OPPAGA, "for Fiscal Year 2009-10, the Legislature appropriated $293.3 million and 2,312 staff positions to administer the program. Approximately $53.6 million of this appropriation was derived from the state's General Revenue Fund and $239.7 million from trust funds. The federal government shares administrative costs with the states to operate the program at the rate of 66% and 34%, respectively." How much did you pay in federal and state taxes last year? Do you care how your money is being spent now?
DCF and DOR are not fit to deal with compunctious, non-custodial parents. Food, clothing, and shelter – be damned. So as far as my experience goes, after 7 years of being in the system, I have not received the 1st child support payment. A whole statewide department whose entire function is to collect revenue, but whose only enforcement power is to suspend a driver's license for an off-the-grid parasite --- is a colossal blunder.
"Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement." GPS: Government Programs Summaries: The Florida Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. OPPAGA. 5 May 2010. Web. 19 June 2010. < http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/profiles/4081/ >.
Florida Department of Revenue: Child Support Services. Florida Department of Revenue. n.d. Web. 19 June 2010. < http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/childsupport/ >.
"Bill Text 105th Congress (1997-1998) H.R.3811ENR: H.R.3811 -- Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] - ENR)." The Library of Congress Thomas. n.d. Web. 19 June 2010. < http://www.thomas.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c105:H.R.3811.ENR: >.
"Collecting Past Due Child Support." Lawyer.com. n.d. Web. 19 June 2010.
< http://family-law.lawyers.com/child-support/Collecting-Past-Due-Child-Support.html >.