Public Shaming for Deadbeat Parents

Congress has encouraged states to come up with creative ways to embarrass parents into paying the child support they owe. One method used nationwide by an association of state child support enforcement agencies is the publishing of “most wanted” lists of parents who owe child support.

In some jurisdictions, for example, the family court lists the names of parents delinquent with child support on cable television 300 times a week and in a full-page newspaper advertisement once a month. In some counties, this public embarrassment located over half of the delinquent parents. Similarly, the Iowa attorney general reports that nearly all of the missing fathers who owe child support have been located through the state’s “most wanted” poster program.

In this routine, when a name is added to the “most wanted” list, the only way to get it removed is to begin paying support. The delinquent parent is ordered to make monthly payments henceforth, his or her wages are attached, and  the court will take steps to see that back child support is paid.

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