The state legislature in neighboring Oklahoma has officially upped the ante in the fight against parents who are delinquent in their child support payments.
Last Friday, Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 576 (SB 576) into law. The measure vests the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) with the power to add missing parents who owe back child support to the “most wanted” list after all other traditional means of locating them have proven unsuccessful.
“This bill will help DHS leverage community assistance to locate absentee parents and ensure they are fulfilling their obligation to their children,” said Fallin in a press release. “No one should be able to avoid child support payments by running off or disappearing and this bill will help to ensure they cannot.”
Under current Oklahoma law, a list of child support evaders is maintained by the DHS. However, it only allows people to be added to the list when an arrest warrant has been issued for the failure to pay child support.
There are only 16 people currently on the list.
SB 576 does not require an arrest warrant to have been issued or even a threshold amount of child support that must be owed. In fact, it even allows the DHS to add parents to the list who are merely being sought to establish child support payments.
“We have many cases where we know this is the mom or dad – parentage has been established – but we cannot find them,” said Renee Banks, chief counsel for DHS. “They don’t technically owe child support, but we need to find them to get a court order and establish that.”
Legislators are touting SB 576 as a necessary measure that will save taxpayer funds and provide the necessary degree of enforcement without being overly punitive.
“If we have found someone who is working with us, this will not be used,” said Banks. “This is limited to finding location. Once we find someone, we will take them off the list.”
SB 576 officially goes into effect on November 1.
Here in Texas, we already have a running list of the “most-wanted” child support evaders. It is run by the Office of the Attorney General and also asks the public for assistance in locating delinquent parents.
To learn more about nonpayment of child support or other post-divorce issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.
Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
Deadbeat ‘wanted’ list to help DHS find parents (Tulsa World)