Case Study: Mother of Two Collects Over $65,000 in Unpaid Child Support
Rebecca H. was owed $67,000 in unpaid child support for her two teenagers, ages 18 and 19. With both children wanting to attend college, she was out of money and beyond frustrated. Rebecca had previously contacted the overburdened government system for help in collecting child support without results. In many states, these departments collect in less than 30% of their caseloads and can appear to be more concerned with children who are under 18 or parents who are on public assistance. Rebecca also tried begging and pleading with her ex-husband—who lived out of state—to provide the child support the court ordered him to pay, but he would laugh at her and say, “Nobody will ever get me to pay.”
Because Rebecca’s ex-husband was self–employed, garnishing his wages was nearly impossible. In cases where the non–custodial parent is working for an unknown employer or if he or she is self–employed, automatic income withholding setup is nearly impossible. This wage garnishment is used to deduct child support payments directly from the earnings of a non-custodial parent. When this system is unable to be set up, this leaves a huge burden on the shoulders of the custodial parent. In Rebecca’s case, and according to the national statistics, this is what millions of custodial parents face nationwide.
Rebecca researched other options for assistance in collecting her unpaid child support. She contacted her former divorce lawyer who said he would be glad to assist, but would require a nonrefundable retainer of $3,000 and there was no guarantee of success. Not having the money to pay the retainer and feeling that she would be throwing good money at bad, Rebecca decided to keep searching for an alternative to traditional child support enforcement.
She did research and found there was another option, a private child support collection agency, also known as a private enforcement agency. After doing online research, she narrowed her choices down to four companies whose services stretched nationwide, all of which have been in business for more than 10 years. Private child support enforcement agencies typically charge a contingency fee for their services. In other words, they get paid a percentage of what they collect, but are paid nothing if no collection is made. Through Rebecca’s research, she also learned that some agencies charge application fees, processing fees, or they increase their fee when attorneys are necessary, which is often the case.
After calling several agencies, Rebecca decided to contract with Support Collectors, Inc., a Minneapolis–based company collecting child support and spousal support nationwide since 1995. Rebecca liked that there were no upfront fees and that this private child support enforcement agency had an excellent reputation with the Better Business Bureau. She also felt that she could relate to the questions that the company posed, such as, “Frustrated with waiting for the government child support enforcement system to help you?” and “Sick and tired of begging the father (or mother) of your children to pay their child support?”
After learning that Support Collectors was originally started in 1993 by a single mother who experienced first-hand the difficulties of collecting child support through the overburdened government system, Rebecca was sold. Not wanting to get her hopes up, she sent in her application and was surprised to hear from someone several days later confirming that they had received her application and that work had begun on her case. Support Collectors told her that within 30 days, they would have a better idea of whether or not they would be able to assist.
This was great news for Rebecca. In the many years of dealing with the government “free” services, not once did she receive a call letting her know what was happening with her case. Support Collectors gives credit to its team-based environment, allowing each of its clients the aid of licensed private investigators, trained enforcement professionals and a team of attorneys nationwide. After about three weeks, a Support Collectors representative contacted Rebecca to give her to good news—they had located her ex–husband and were already starting the process of garnishing his wages and placing liens on properties he owned.
When Rebecca’s ex-husband hired a high-priced lawyer, her Support Collectors lawyers helped her fight the case. After 3 months, she was sent a check for the entire child support debt and immediately used it to pay for her children’s college tuition and past-due bills. Her only regret was that she wished she would have done it all sooner, so that it would have helped her raise her children.
The laws to enforce unpaid child support are available to all. The federal law, UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act), allows enforcement in all 50 states, including liens on property and vehicles, along with attaching to other assets. However, many parents in need of unpaid child support do not know all their options. It appears there is an alternative solution to these problems – a private child support enforcement agency.