Some parents may be wondering why they have not yet received an economic stimulus check from the federal government.  An article in the June 25, 2008 edition of USA Today entitled, Rebate Checks Diverted to Pay $2B in Child Support, Loans, Other Debts, sheds some light on the situation, informing readers how economic stimulus rebate checks are being confiscated to pay for, among other outstanding obligations, child support.

The article explains how 1.8 million rebate checks were intercepted by a Treasury Department debt-collection system based on lists of delinquent Americans provided by state and federal agencies. Of the nearly $1 billion collected as of the date of the article, 55% went directly to the family or government agency owed child support, which is an astounding number when considering that the remainder went towards more commonly seen debts such as unpaid loans and taxes.

This USA Today article raises an opportunity to address some of the tactics that the State of New Jersey may employ in order to obtain child support owed when payments are made through New Jersey’s Probation Division. For instance, the Probation Division may intercept federal and state income tax refunds or homestead rebates.  Further, while you may be lucky enough to win the lottery or winnings at a casino or racetrack, the State is not going to let you enjoy those winnings free and clear if you owe child support. The State legislature recently passed a law allowing the Probation Division to intercept and deduct support owed from a delinquent parent’s lottery winnings if the winnings are $600 or more. The key here is to be responsible, own up to your obligations, and then enjoy your winnings.

A related tip can be garnered from property purchases, especially in a down economy. Be aware that when you buy or sell property, a judgment search must be conducted in order to uncover any existing child support arrears. Your credit rating may also be negatively impacted depending on how much you owe and your driver’s license suspended or revoked.

Readers of this blog may recall our recent entry discussing New Jersey’s law enforcement crackdown on parent’s behind in child support payments.  The USA Today article reveals that this is not merely a problem in New Jersey, but one that stretches from coast to coast.  However, the overall song for delinquent parents remains the same – make your child support payments in a timely manner or be prepared to face potentially severe legal consequences.

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