AUGUSTA – Many single parents across the state struggle to make ends meet.
The Department of Health and Human Services deals with more than 50,000 cases where one parent fails to pay child support. That doesn’t even count the number of cases referred to the attorney general for prosecution.
But who really suffers when child support isn’t paid?
Governor LePage recently said “You’re going to see some bills this year, very tough bills, on dead beat dads. And, I’m going to say to you, I think taking their license away is foolish.”
It’s only when custodial parents apply for welfare benefits when the state gets involved in child support collection.
And today, the correct term is non-supporting parents, not deadbeat dads. That’s because 10 percent of those not paying child support are deadbeat moms. And, the tentacles of the drug epidemic are wrapped around the wallets of people who are supposed to be paying child support.
Attorney General Janet Mills stated “This is what we’re seeing in the courts across the state, more and more parents, moms and dads, abusing drugs. More and more of them, basically, not capable of providing for a child.”
The office of the attorney general has 11 assistant attorneys general dedicated to child support enforcement.
The judges are not allowed in a child support case to say you have to go into rehab. You have to pay to get into detox and rehab under this child support order because it’s not directly authorized.
Nearly 2,500 cases are referred to the AG’s office by the Department of Health and Human Services. The amount of money owed by these people wasn’t immediately available.
Mills said there are avenues that should be explored that might decrease the numbers of non-supporting parents. She added “To address the situation, long-term contraception, family planning, health education in the schools. It would be nice if every kid in middle school and high school full understood the responsibilities of parenting.”
Let’s be clear, Mill stated, drugs are playing a greater role in the cases they prosecute for non-payment, but still there are many other 214 non-custodial parents who struggle to make payments as they make a life outside of marriage.
The governor has mentioned several bills will be introduced this session, but so far only one has been introduced.