The BP (British Petroleum) oil spill, off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama in 2010 was a devastating event that took human life and inflicted serious injuries to oil workers, not to mention the disastrous effects on the environment, wildlife habitat and local industries, especially tourism.
After a public relations nightmare, BP admitted it was responsible for the accident and paid $20 billion dollars into a trust fund to reimburse those who suffered loss as a result of the explosion and the oily black slick that shutdown coastal communities.
It is reported that to date there are nearly one million claims outstanding from Gulf Coast residents who will receive substantial sums of money in reimbursement for their losses.
Enter the government agency in Louisiana that assists parents to collect child support and their ingenuity. After comparing lists of BP claimants against their list of parents who owed child support, the agency has collected $5.5 million dollars from 9400 child support debtors, taking the funds from their BP reimbursement, with more to come.
Arrears of child support in Louisiana is estimated at $1.2 billion dollars and remember, that estimate is based on parents who have registered their child support orders or agreements with the state enforcement agency. There will be thousands of moms and dads who have simply given up. It’s a shocking statistic and a telltale sign of our western culture’s negligence when it comes to our children.
Yet even with wage and government benefits garnishment and the potential loss of a debtor’s driver’s license or passport, there is no end in sight. The only effective strategy I have seen is the incarceration of parents who refuse to pay child support when they have sufficient funds to do so. However, parents who repeatedly defy court orders rarely run into a judge who will do something about it.
Of course, there will always be parents who legitimately have no means to pay, and fair justice should take into account those situations.
It is a thorny problem with no easy answers.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang