The Abell Foundation’s report on the child support system in Maryland doesn’t simply criticize, it offers solutions as well (Abell Foundation, June, 2019). My first piece on the report appears here.
The report, written by former commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Vicky Turetsky, pulls no punches. It points out that support orders are routinely set too high for non-custodial parents to pay resulting in skyrocketing debt, most of which is uncollectable. All of that hits the poor disproportionately hard and results in the marginalization of non-custodial parents (most often dads) in their children’s lives.
So the report urges three fixes for the current system: (1) base orders on non-custodial parents’ actual incomes, (2) reduce uncollectable child support debt and (3) ensure that children, not the state, get the money intended for them.
Turetsky comes down hardest on imputed income:
A major culprit behind unaffordable orders is using attributed, or imputed, income as the basis for calculating support obligations in low-income cases. Imputed income is fictitious income.