MOBILE, AL (WALA) — Ending fiscal year 2019, there was $4.1 billion owed in child support statewide, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
With over 205,000 open cases statewide officials say, ultimately the child/children are the ones who suffer.
“Child support is designed for the non-custodial parent to contribute; it not the whole amount of money it costs to raise a child, but to contribute to what the custodial parent is doing to help financially support the children; it can make a big difference in a child’s life,” said Barry Spear, Communications Director with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. “The custodial parent may be able to take care of having a home, food and basic necessities but kids need a lot of different things other than basic necessities.
“They have field trips they want to go on; they may have some things they want to do like join the band and need a musical instrument; there are a lot of different things that a child may need that the custodial parent may not be able to do without help from the non-custodial parent,” he said. “It takes the finances from both parents to raise a child properly and give them the things that they need. It could be a big financial burden on someone trying to raise a child without that assistance.”
When you look at Mobile and Baldwin County, DHR says there are over 18,000 child support cases where money is owed.
Of the $4.1 billion owed, $380 million of that is owed in Mobile County. This amount is associated with 13,471 cases. Also, of that $4.1 billion owed, $141 million of that is owed in Baldwin County; this amount is associated with 4,540 cases. All these numbers were ending fiscal year 2019.
While most people think of delinquent dads when the subject of child support comes up, Spear said there are plenty of moms paying child support as well.
“Of course, there are some women who pay child support,” he said. “And there are some women who are behind in their child support.”
With thousands of cases statewide he said the current case load per worker is 300 to 400 cases.
Spear said if you’re owed arrears, there are ways you can assist your case worker.
“If they know that the non-custodial parent has recently gotten a job, they can report that to us and give us that kind of information,” Spear said. “What happens is a lot of times folks who owe child support will frequently change jobs so child support can’t catch up with them. You get a withholding order on someone and their finance people start withholding money from their check, they’ll go get another job. And if you’re in that type employment where you can easily change jobs that’s what they do.”
Although some parents go to great lengths to avoid helping their ex financially with their child, he said there are plenty of non-custodial parents who happily pay their money.
“A lot of parents are grateful that the custodial parents are taking care of that child every day; day in and day out and seeing to their needs. They more than willing to pay their share to help support the child financially,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have some parents who think they’re giving the money to the ex-girlfriend or the ex-wife or husband; and they’re bitter about that which isn’t fair to the child because it’s the child that goes without. “