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Louisiana gaming industry helps parents collect child support

Louisiana's Child Support Office is tasked with the job of collecting child support payments from parents who are not keeping up with their financial obligations to their children. The office uses a number of tools to get money from people who have the ability to make payments fail to do so.

According to a Louisiana's child support enforcement manager, wage garnishment is "our greatest tool" for getting the money. However, the state has a number of other methods for extracting funds from recalcitrant non-custodial parents. They can have assets seized and liens placed on property. The state can make life difficult for them in other ways. It can suspend any number of licenses -- everything from business licenses to hunting and fishing permits to driver's licenses.

Some Louisiana parents fail to pay child support despite the fact that they have won big in Louisiana's casinos or lottery. Beginning in 2011, the gaming industry has helped the state identify people who have won a significant amount of money but failed to keep up on their child support obligations. It developed a database that identifies anyone who wins over $1,200 and is in arrears on their child support payments. In these cases, the money goes directly to the person's child support debt.

The results have been significant. As of May of this year, nearly $2 million in child support from 1,500 winnings has been collected. Nearly 20 state-licensed casinos participate in the casino intercept program. As the enforcement manager noted, sometimes the would-be winners "walk out of the casino with no money left." One parent who visited the Amelia Belle Casino saw over $23,000 in winnings go directly to their child support tab. This was the largest single amount collected thus far.

Obviously, most divorcing parents seek to work out child support issues without getting the state involved. When a non-custodial parent is not keeping up with his or her payments, it may be because of a true financial issue. Temporary or permanent adjustments to child support payments can sometimes be worked out with the court. If a parent can afford to pay, but simply is not, steps can also be taken through the court to hold him or her accountable. Louisiana family law attorneys can advise parents having difficulty collecting the money they need to take care of their children of the best course of action.

Source: KPLC-TV Channel 7, "Casino Interception program working for LA Child Support Office" Jul. 14, 2014

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