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September 19, 2021

Unpaid child support from deadbeat parents continues to swell

Unpaid child support is a huge financial problem for custodial parents, as well as the public purse which must supply assistance to children with little or no support and try to prosecute those failing to pay.

Unpaid child and spousal support in Ontario, for instance,  now tops $2 billion, according to recent government data. That figure has grown by $500 million in the past three years alone, with some 135,000 support payment cases now in arrears.

A few years ago, Ontario's Family Responsibility Office (FRO), which enforces child-support payment collections, started a website designed to shame parents into paying up. But it's had limited success.

The FRO's Good Parents Pay website has only managed to collect something like $470,000 over the past seven years from just 62 parents, according to recent reports. But private sites like CrappyDads lay claim to better results ... although it's not clear just who is auditing their results.

Officers in provincial enforcement programs can suspend driver's licences, cancel passports, revoke hunting and fishing permits and even seize lottery winnings to get a delinquent debtor's attention.

That’s if they can find them, of course – which brings us to a rogue's gallery of the worst deadbeats the country has to offer, parents who haven't helped support their children for at least six months, pulling a vanishing act at the same time.

Each profile of a deadbeat – the vast majority of whom are men – features a name, photo, physical description, last known location and the person's usual occupation.

At the moment, Alberta and Ontario are alone in the publicizing of parents who won’t pay up but other provinces may soon be following their lead.

Critics, however, argue that dire circumstances and unfair rulings force many parents into arrears on child payments and that publicly shaming them does little to reconcile families or ensure compliance.

Clearly, some noncustodial parents who fall behind on child support simply can't afford to settle, either because they’re unemployed or on sick leave. But are the majority?

Do you think non-custodial parents often get a raw deal? Or does looking after your kids’ welfare come first, no matter what?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money 



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...