A staggering sixteen years after the federal guideline, the state of South Carolina still does not have an online system for tracking missed child support payments.
This is, in my opinion, an absolute disgrace on the part of the state and its contractors.
In 1988, the federal government passed a law requiring a centralized computer system to help enforce timely child support payments. This system is designed to help parents struggling to collect back child support payments. It is especially important for single parents and their children, who often struggle financially and are in desperate need of court-ordered child support.
The system is also supposed to computerize both new hires and those collecting unemployment in order to better track and garnish the wages of deadbeat parents.
So why is South Carolina the last state to comply with the federal law?
In 1997, according to officials, the state’s first contractor hired to build the system abandoned the project. This led to lawsuits, in which the state recovered $17.6 million. The delay caused the state to miss the federal deadline.
The contract was rebid and awarded in 2007 to a company eventually acquired by Hewlett Packard (HP).
Recently, the state canceled its contract with HP. The company, in turn, has blamed the delays on the state’s mismanagement. If the dispute is not resolved in front of the state procurement officer, it could go to court—thereby extending the delay.
All the while, the state has accumulated enormous federal fines, now at more than $100 million, for its non-compliance.
Senator Thomas Alexander, head of the budget panel overseeing the Department of Social Services, said of the delay: “It infuriates me. It frustrates me. How in the world we can be out of compliance when all other forty-nine states are in is just beyond me.”
The state’s delay in implementing this computer service does a tremendous disservice to the residents of South Carolina. Without this computer system, deadbeats can more easily evade their responsibilities by moving out of the county or the state.
It is extremely unfortunate that parents in South Carolina should have to go to more effort than necessary in order to collect the child support they are due.
Those who are finding little help from the state when trying to collect overdue child support should contact an experienced child support attorney in Mt. Pleasant. If you have questions about collecting back child support payments, please give me a call at 843-800-2928.