Multiple enforcement and collection mechanisms by two state agencies and local county attorneys have resulted in more than $60.5 million in delinquent child support being paid to custodial parents and their children since 2008, State Treasurer Don Stenberg said today.
County attorneys and the child support enforcement staff of the Department of Health and Human Services have recovered delinquent child support payments from individuals’ state and federal tax refunds, lottery winnings exceeding $500, passport denials, and the administrative attachment of bank accounts.
At the same time, the State Treasurer’s Office, which oversees the collection and distribution of child support payments, has assisted DHHS in the recovery of delinquent child support through redirecting unclaimed property holdings.
“All of these measures are provided for in state or federal law or both,” Treasurer Stenberg said. “This process greatly benefits the children in Nebraska whose custodial parents have not received the child support they are entitled to under court order. Redirecting this money so that it goes to feed, clothe, and care for these children is a significant service not only to the families involved, but to the public, as well as to the state. The Treasurer’s Office has been innovative in finding ways to make sure Nebraska children get the financial support they need, and the Department of Health and Human Services has been diligent in pursuing back child support, yet much work remains to be done for both agencies.”
“The Treasurer’s Office is a valuable partner in our child support efforts by receiving and disbursing DHHS child support collections to children and families in a timely and effective manner,” said Kerry Winterer, CEO of the Department of Health and Human Services. In Nebraska, the Treasurer’s Office receives and disburses child support payments through the Nebraska Child Support Payment Center in an agreement with DHHS’s child support enforcement program.
“The State Treasurer’s Office has implemented many ways for custodial parents to receive the money quickly and timely,” said Byron Van Patten, DHHS child support administrator. “The payments are put on a debit card or deposited directly into the custodial parent’s bank account. Nebraska has been recognized as a leader in using technology for receiving and disbursing child support payments.”
Sources of funds that have been redirected to pay back child support, all since 2008, include federal tax refunds, $46.4 million; state tax refunds, $10 million; administrative attachment of bank accounts through the Financial Institution Data Match, $2.3 million; passport denials, $913,000; unclaimed property, $373,000; and lottery winnings, $228,000.
Under the administrative attachment program, known as the Financial Institution Data Match, Nebraska financial institutions receive a file each quarter containing the names and social security numbers of about 40,000 parents who are delinquent in their child support obligations, according to DHHS. The financial institutions then match these names with their own files and return the matched information to DHHS.
The newest collection mechanism in assisting DHHS is the Treasurer’s Office practice of offsetting unclaimed property holdings to go toward unpaid child support, which began in 2008. Since the Treasurer’s Office oversees the state’s Unclaimed Property Act as well as the Child Support Payment Center, the enforcement mechanism is a natural outgrowth of cooperation among the divisions in the office.
“Nebraska is one of a handful of states to perform this function of redirecting unclaimed property to pay back child support. The fact that the two organizations are housed in the same state constitutional office makes the transfer of the money smoother than if multiple agencies were involved,” Treasurer Stenberg said.
Unclaimed property includes deposits, dividends, dormant accounts, gift certificates, insurance payments, lost IRAs, matured CDs, money orders, mutual funds, payroll wages, rebates, refunds and stock. It does not include land or real estate. The Treasurer’s Office holds about $100 million in unclaimed property for more than 350,000 Nebraskans and former Nebraskans.
From 2008 to 2011, the total amount redirected from unclaimed property holdings was equal to about one-third of an average day’s receipts in the Child Support Payment Center, but the center’s director said any money being reclaimed for custodial parents and children is worth celebrating. “All money brought into the center is a positive as it is being disbursed to families who need the money and rightfully have the funds coming,” said Troy Reiners, director of the Child Support Payment Center.
Other enforcement mechanisms used by the DHHS child support enforcement and county attorney staffs to collect past due child support include the following: