THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
President Clinton Hails Child Support Progress and Signs into Law Tough New Penalties for Deadbeat Parents June 24, 1998
Today, President Clinton will announce new statistics highlighting the success of Administration child support enforcement efforts and will sign into law tough new penalties for parents who repeatedly refuse to pay child support. At an Oval Office ceremony, the President will announce that a new child support collection system launched nine months ago has already located one million deliquent parents, and the child support enforcement program established a record 1.3 million paternities in 1997. Overall, 68 percent more child support was collected in 1997 than in 1992. The bill he will sign into law, the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, is based on his 1996 proposal for tougher penalties for parents who repeatedly fail to support children living in another state or who flee across state lines to avoid supporting them. Finally, the President will reiterate his position that bankruptcy reform legislation should not make it harder to collect child support and alimony.
New Hire Directory Finds One Million Delinquent Parents. Today, the President will announce that the new National Directory of New Hires had located one million deliquent parents since its October 1, 1997 launch. The directory, proposed by the President in 1994, and enacted as part of the 1996 welfare reform law, helps track parents across state lines and withhold their wages by enabling child support officials to match records of delinquent parents with wage records from throughout the nation. Approximately one-third of all child support cases involve parents living in different states. (See attached chart)
A Record Number of Paternity Establishments. The President will also announce that the child support enforcement program established a record 1.3 million paternities in 1997, two and a half times the 1992 figure of 510,000. Much of this success is due to the in-hospital voluntary paternity establishment program begun by the Clinton Administration in 1994, which encourages fathers to acknowledge paternity at the time of the child's birth.
A Record Increase in Child Support Collections. In 1997, the state and federal child support enforcement program collected a record $13.4 billion for children, an increase of 68% from 1992, when $8 billion was collected. Not only are collections up, but the number of families that are actually receiving child support has also increased. In 1997, the number of child support cases with collections rose to 4.2 million, an increase of 48% from 2.8 million in 1992.
New Felony Penalties for Egregious Failure to Pay Child Support. The President called for these tough new penalties in July 1996 and again in his 1997 State of the Union address. This new law creates two new categories of felonies, with penalties of up to two years in prison, for more egregious child support evaders:
Traveling across state or country lines with the intent to evade child support payments will now be considered a felony if the obligation has remained unpaid for a period longer than one year or is greater than $5,000. When the obligation has remained unpaid for a period of longer than two years or is greater than $10,000, willful failure to pay child support to a child residing in another state will be considered a felony.
This bill was sponsored in Congress by Representatives Hyde and Hoyer and Senators DeWine and Kohl, and had overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses.
Responsible Bankruptcy Reform that Doesn't Hurt Children. Finally, the President will reiterate his position that bankruptcy reform legislation should not make it harder to collect child support and alimony. The Administration will work with Congress to produce a bankruptcy reform bill that asks responsibility of both creditors and debtors, while stemming abuse. In those discussions, the President will continue to make protecting child support and alimony a top priority. The House and Senate bills still raise the concern that additional debts will survive bankruptcy and compete with child support and alimony payments for scarce funds.