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Maryland state agency steps up support collection

After losing some of its funding following a state audit, Maryland's Department of Human Resources has stepped up its child support enforcement efforts. The audit found that the Department had not used all available means to collect child support, an error the Department is now hard at work to correct.

The Department has posted several billboards around Baltimore, subtly reminding employers that they must report their new hires to the Department. If Maryland employers fail to do so, they may face a $20 fine per offense; $500 if the employer intentionally conceals the hire.

The Department also plans to make greater use of other child support enforcement tools, such as wage withholdings and professional license suspensions. It intends to seize the bank accounts of those who both owe child support and have more than $500 in the account. Prior to the state's audit, the Department's policy was only to pursue a bank account larger than $2,500.

The Department's efforts have helped child support enforcement. Thus far this fiscal year, Maryland has collected $20.7 million more in child support payments than at the same point last year.

Despite the improvement, parents who are owed child support may want to personally pursue some stiffer enforcement mechanisms available to them. In some cases, a parent may want to ask a court to hold the person who is supposed to pay support in contempt. If the court grants that request, that person may face substantial jail time for failing to pay child support.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Md. child support collections on the rise after audit", Yvonne Wenger, Aug. 29, 2012.

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