Do you owe child support? Say goodbye to that stimulus check - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Do you owe child support? Say goodbye to that stimulus check

Lawton_If you owe child support, you probably did not receive a federal stimulus check, and unless you are current with those payments, you won't receive one in the future.  In Oklahoma, and many other states, the Department of Human Services (DHS) intercepts the economic stimulus payments and gives them to parents and children who are owed child support.  Oklahoma DHS says the state intercepted $14 million worth of stimulus checks in 2008.

The Lawton Office of Child Support Enforcement covers nearly 10,000 cases in Comanche and Cotton Counties, and collects more than $1 million in payments per month.  However, thanks to federal legislation that went into effect last October, officials can now collect millions more in back child support each year.  Child Support Enforcement Office Manager Jane Torres says that the stimulus checks had a tremendous impact on the organization.  "We have seen a 120% increase of collections from the year past," she said.  "We're very pleased with the amount of monies that we have been able to collect to then pay out to those families to help them."

In 2005, the Federal Government passed the Deficit Reduction Act, which changed the criteria for child support collections.  Now, they can collect on cases even if the child is 18 or older if support continues to be past due.  "There are thousands of cases where past due child support has been owed, but for one reason or another we were not able to collect," said Torres.  They also could not collect interest on past due payments once a child turned 18.  Now, they can collect interest at a rate of 10%.  "It's still a valid debt, it's still something we needed to collect on," she said.  "But with the new tax off-set, we've got another source that we can collect on."

From January to August of 2007, they collected more than $1 million from tax offsets - the money the government removes from income tax refunds if someone is behind on child support.  This year, they have more than doubled that amount to $2.2 million.  "We do as much as we can with the resources that we have," said Torres.  "We're always happy when we get new laws passed that gives us yet more tools to work with." 

DHS says that more than 33,000 Oklahoma families will benefit from funds from past-due child support cases.  Oklahoma is not alone in seizing stimulus checks.  Texas intercepted more than 130,000 and brought in more than $80 million in child support payments.  California collected nearly $100 million.

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