By: Erin Hollenkamp
A couple of weeks ago, Total Divorce detailed the controversy surrounding the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and how it imposes an annual $25 fee for child support enforcement.
Child support enforcement programs essentially collect child support from delinquent parents and pay it to custodial parents after divorce. These programs are administered by states but partially funded by the federal government. States have the ability to garnish wages or even suspend the licenses of delinquent parents who do not pay up on past-due child support under these enforcement programs.
On October 1st of this year, the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 gave states the power to charge a $25 annual fee when the amount of child support collected by the state under these enforcement programs reaches $500. With that in mind, our previous article detailed one Connecticut woman's anguish over the child support enforcement fee, which the state could have absorbed itself but temporarily chose to pass onto custodial parents.
Specifically, Connecticut mother Lisa Zawisza wondered why she had to absorb the child support enforcement fee when it was actually her ex-husband who fell behind on his child support payments. In the time since that article, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell stopped collecting this child support fee from parents and rather chose to dip into the state's own coffers to pay for the $25 charge.
Zawisza's excellent question about this child support enforcement fee is now being raised by custodial parents in Colorado like Liz Potter, who was described in a story in The Durango Herald as calling the $25 fee the "most absurd thing" that she's ever seen. Potter receives monthly child support from the father of her four-year-old son, Zane Angulo.
Potter was so upset with the child support fee that she wrote a letter to the media denouncing it. Since then, the Colorado Department of Human Services has responded.
Spokeswoman Liz McDonough said that department feels that the $25 fee is "reasonable" considering the services provided by the state's child support enforcement program. McDonough elaborated that the Colorado child support enforcement fee would apply to about 25,000 cases in the state and produce about $617,000.
McDonough noted that approximately two-thirds of that money would go back to the federal government, with the rest of the money going to counties to help with their enforcement programs. McDonough further added that the Deficit Reduction Act essentially passed on more costs onto the state since it cut some federal funding for the child support enforcement programs to begin with.
Colorado is passing on its fees to custodial parents like Potter, who says that she struggles enough as it is providing for her son. Like Zawisza in Connecticut, Potter raises a good point about the fairness of this fee.
Unfortunately, Colorado doesn't seem to be as ahead of the game when it comes to the fee as Connecticut proved to be. When halting the fee on parents, Rell noted in a press release that she did not want this burden placed "on the backs of custodial parents and their children."
When contacted about the child support fee, a spokesman for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said that the governor's office was not familiar with the fee and unsure whether anyone had contacted them about it.