A new pilot child support forgiveness program aims to help parents make owed child support payments, which totaled $100 billion nationwide in 2009. A group of professors and government officials conducted a study into the effectiveness of such a program, finding that it could help reduce debt while providing custodial parents with child support payments they would be unlikely to receive otherwise. While the program is currently only active in one state, it could spread to Virginia if it is ultimately successful.

One of the study's authors said a large portion of child support debt belongs to non-custodial parents whose low income can make it difficult to make payments on time. He explained that the debt is often "uncollectable," which in turn makes it harder for the custodial parents that depend on child support payments to properly care for their children. He added that the government is also affected by child support debt, explaining that they spend a significant amount of money attempting to enforce child support orders and take punitive actions against parents who do not pay.

The pilot program forgives 50 cents of debt toward the state and another 50 cents toward the other parent for every $1 in child support a non-custodial parent pays. To date, more than 120 parents have completed the program, resulting in higher average payments than before it was implemented. The study found that non-custodial parents who participated in the program paid more than $100 more each month than those did not participate. Only non-custodial parents with $2,000 or more in child support debt are eligible for enrollment in the program.

Source: UPI, "Back child support payments get a boost," Dec. 10, 2011