(Missourinet)– In a state of about six million people, more than 204,000 child support cases exist in Missouri. Roughly $2.39 billion is overdue to parents who have primary custody.
State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick and the Missouri Department of Social Services have launched an automated system matching unclaimed property belonging to people who have delinquent child support payments. He tells Missourinet the new process has blown the previous year’s total out of the water.
“Last year, I think we did, in terms of the manual process that we’d had, a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of returns for child support. In the first run on the new system that was built, we did $2 million on 18,000 (child support) accounts,” says Fitzpatrick.
The slick method scraps the manual paperwork between the two agencies to improve efficiency and timeliness.
Electronic files of past-due child support cases are matched against the State Treasurer’s Office unclaimed property database. If a match is found, it sends a payment to the Department of Social Services.
“If the person who owes child support is the same person who has unclaimed property, that’s what we’re taking. We’re not taking just random people’s unclaimed property to pay past due child support,” says Fitzpatrick. “I think that’s kind of an important distinction about the program.”
Fitzpatrick says his office plans to send weekly unclaimed property payments to Social Services to pay down child support debt.
“Every month you’ll have new people who are behind on child support and you have new people that have unclaimed property, says Fitzpatrick of southwest Missouri’s Shell Knob. “We think it will be a long-term success and something that will just help get money to the people who it’s owed to.”
The system also enables the Department to withhold unclaimed property before a parent owing child support can claim it.