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Casino players may have winnings seized to pay child support

When child support goes unpaid, it is usually the children who suffer. The system is in place to help ensure that children receive adequate financial support from their parents. In Missouri, the child support system aims to set payments at a level that benefits the child, but is reflective of the parent's means. Unfortunately, all too often these sums continue to go unpaid.

Often, arrest warrants are issued for parents who skip payments for too long. This is not always the most productive measure, however, as imprisoning a parent leaves him or her unable to continue working to make required payments. As a result, several states are looking for new ways to recover the missing payments.

In Ohio, the latest move is a proposed provision that would allow unpaid child support to be seized from casino winnings. The bill, which was passed by the state's House last month and is now being debated by the state's Senate, aims to help the state meet its targets for collecting child support. Last year, collections fell 2 percent short of the 70 percent goal, with about $1.3 billion being collected.

Under the proposed legislation, casino and racino winnings required to be reported for federal tax withholding would also be eligible to be seized for back-due child support payments. The bill would enable the entire sum to be seized if the amount owed exceeded the total winnings. A similar measure already applies to lottery winnings, of which almost $250,000 were seized in Ohio last year. Data-match software would enable casinos and racinos to double-check whether a winner owed anything before paying out.

Although this proposed measure is from another state, it is representative of the sort of lengths the government is prepared to go to in order to collect delinquent payments. Parents in Missouri should be prepared to negotiate child support levels if they are struggling to keep up with payments. An attorney may be able to help you present your case and negotiate a payment plan or a more manageable payment level.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Casino jackpots in Ohio might be seized for child support," Catherine Candisky, May 7, 2014

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