Louisiana Casinos Collect Child Support from Deadbeat Parents
It’s rare that child support obligations are fulfilled on time, every time, by everyone who owes them, and states are getting creative in tracking that money down.
Some states are even resorting to the resorts: Louisiana reportedly recently joined six other states by instituting a program to intercept casino winnings from delinquent parents to pay child support payments.
Louisiana Goes for Broke
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services announced on Jan. 29 that its casino intercept program, instituted in 2011, has captured over $806,000 in casino winnings from 599 non-custodial parents for child support arrears.
Eighteen casinos participate in the state program, which state law allows to collect child support from people who gamble and win more than $1,200. Similar laws are on the books in Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, and West Virginia, according to the DCFS.
“In our work to assist families who rely on court ordered child support to provide for their children, DCFS uses every avenue available, like casino intercepts, to collect the more than $1.2 billion owed by non-custodial parents statewide,” said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier.
Not Uncommon, But Creative
“Anywhere that there are financial resources to hold a parent accountable for child support payment obligations, those resources should be accessed, no matter what,” says Bari Weinberger, a family lawyer with the Weinberger Law Group, L.L.C. in Parsippany, N.J.
States can also take money from deadbeat parents in a variety of other ways, Weinberger says, “and they should be more aggressive in doing so.” Tax refunds, social security and disability payments, inherited money and lottery winnings can all up for grabs.
Parents trying to collect child support have more ways than they might think to get the money their child is owed and to keep the delinquent parent from taking off. When an enforcement application is filed with a court to collect unpaid child support, lawyers can ask for relief from any number of sources, Weinberger says, including:
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Withholding of passport
- Tax refund seizure
- Unemployment compensation garnishment
- Wage garnishment
- Arrest and incarceration with release from jail conditional upon full satisfaction of arrears
- Liquidation of assets (such as sale of recreational vehicles, compelling equity to be taken from a home, forced liquidation of the cash value of life insurance or retirement accounts)
She adds that since child support debts are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, filing for that protection won’t do a deadbeat much good.
Get on the Ball
Some states are more proactive than others in tracking down delinquent parents. If your state is not cooperating in your efforts to secure the money your child is owed, you should file a motion with the court that ordered the child support payments, Weinberger says.
That motion will ask the judge to find the noncompliant parent in violation of the child support order, and will seek to enforce that order. Securing the help of a family lawyer is probably a good idea, because there are a number of requirements to be met for this type of filing.
The motion must be filed along with a proposed form that the order should take (i.e., the method you would like the court to use in enforcing the original child support order), certification, proof that the delinquent parent has been served and notified that you’re filing the motion, along with copies of the original support agreement and court order, and case information statements, Weinberger says.
“Understand that this is not an overnight process,” she adds. “It takes some time to prepare the papers, get into court and receive a decision, so don’t delay in acting to enforce because there is already a delay in receiving relief from the court even under the best and most organized of circumstances.”