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June 24, 1998

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This bill today is a gift to our children and the future. The quiet crisis of unpaid child support is something that our country and our families shouldn't tolerate. Our first responsibility, all of us, is to our children.

- President Bill Clinton
June 24, 1998

Today, at an Oval Office bill signing event, President Clinton announces the release of new statistics showing that the Administration's child support enforcement efforts have led to significant increases in child support collections, paternity identifications, and location of delinquent parents. The President will sign the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, which establishes tougher penalties for parents who repeatedly fail to support children living in another state or who flee across state lines to avoid paying child support.

Locating Over One Million Delinquent Parents. As part of the 1996 welfare reform law, the National Directory of New Hires was established to help track parents across state lines and withhold wages from them. The New Hire directory enables child support officials to match records of delinquent parents with wage records from across the nation and begin collection procedures against them. This directory has now located over one million delinquent parents since its launch on October 1, 1997.

Establishing A Record Number Of Paternities. Improving paternity establishment has been a top priority of the Clinton Administration and is the crucial first step for children born out of wedlock to obtain the child support they need and deserve. In 1997, a record 1.3 million paternities were established, over two and a half times more than five years ago. Much of this success is due to the voluntary program begun by the President in 1994, which encourages fathers to acknowledge paternity at the hospital when the child is born.

Record Increases In Child Support Collections. With the passage of welfare reform, states were given new tools to go after parents who chose to walk away from their child support obligations, including the New Hire directory, streamlined paternity establishment, uniform interstate child support laws, computerized state-wide collections, and tough new penalties like driver's license revocation. In addition, the establishment of more paternities means more fathers are now legally obligated to pay support. These efforts have led to record results:

  • In 1997, the state and federal child support enforcement program collected a record $13.4 billion for children, an increase of 68 percent from 1992;

  • The number of families actually receiving child support payments has increased to 4.2 million, a 48 percent increase since 1992.

Increasing Penalties For Deadbeat Parents. In July 1996, the President directed the Attorney General to draft legislation with stronger penalties for parents who neglect to pay child support, and today he will sign into law a bill with overwhelming bipartisan support.. The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 creates two new categories of felonies against those who evade child support:

  • Traveling across state or country lines with the intent to evade child support payments will now be considered a felony if the obligation has remained unpaid for a period longer than one year and is greater than $5,000;

  • When a child support obligation has remained unpaid for over two years, or is in excess of $10,000, willful failure to pay this support to a child residing in another state will be considered a felony.

Supporting Responsible Bankruptcy Reform That Does Not Hurt Children. The President will reaffirm his commitment to bankruptcy reform legislation that does not make it harder to collect child support and alimony. The Administration will work with Congress to produce responsible reform legislation that will continue to make protecting child support and alimony a top priority.

Recent Data on Delinquent Parents, by State

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June 24, 1998

Delinquent Parents Located