Collected Unpaid Child Support


Detra Davis


There is nothing more discouraging than doing the right thing and not getting credit for it. How many non-custodial parents are paying child support only to have it lost by a disbursement center that is under staffed and technologically inapt?

There is over $100 Billion in accumulated unpaid support owed to 18 million children in the United States, according to The Federal Office of Child Support in the Preliminary Statistics for 2003. Most states cannot explain the existence of the "undistributed funds" nor do they know to whom the money rightfully belongs. The "undistributed funds" are created when non-custodial parents decide to make a check out to a child support agency or the custodial parent and avoid putting a docket number or case number on the check. It is honorable to pay child support. It is foolish to think that a check or money order made out incorrectly will get to the intended custodial parent and child.

If you pay child support and you think the state disbursement agency has not forwarded the support funds to the custodial parent, there are a few things you can do:

1. Request an audit of your child support case. You want to know where each and every penny has gone.
2. Keep a record of your child support payments whether there is a wage assignment and the funds are automatically taken from your earnings or you pay the custodial parent directly, document everything and keep all earning statements that detail the deduction.

3. Never write a check to a child support agency or the disbursement agency, the money will not get to the intended party.

4. If the custodial parent says "I'm not getting my child support payments", and you know you are paying support, they may be right. Check it out. Once or twice a year the names of those who may be owed undistributed funds are recorded in local legal newspapers, or posted on the state web site under unclaimed property.

5. Custodial and Non-custodial parents must notify the child support agency and disbursement agency when there is a change of address. If you don't inform them your support may be held by the state and not disbursed.

Over $100 Billion in accumulated unpaid support should raise a few eyebrows. It means there are child support payments out there that are not getting to the children who need it the most and the government is not doing enough to address this issue. The next time someone suggest that a dad or mom stopped paying child support, investigate. Just because you did not get your child support money does not mean it was not collected.


Detra D. Davis is a writer with over 20 years of experience. Author of A Matter of Record: Keeping Track of Your Child Support, this tool is for both custodial and non-custodial parents. Email Detra at:, or by mail: J. Davis & Associates,
P. O. Box 4935, Cary, NC 27513-4935, to learn more visit:




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