First, when a court orders a parent to pay child support, often that parent sends the money to the court, which distributes it to the other parent, rather than paying directly. If the court loses track of the parent who’s supposed to receive the money, it sits there and grows each month until the parent and children are found. Sometimes that goes on for years.
Another way that unclaimed child support happens is if the parent without custody stops paying and the government puts a lien against them. That means that when that parent starts making money or sells property that becomes public record, the government can swoop in and claim part of that money for the other parent and kids.
At Good Morning America, we once surprised an Ohio mom named Tami Schwarz with unclaimed child support she was owed. Summit County Ohio is one of the most aggressive counties in the country about going after back child support. Tami’s ex hadn’t paid child support in years, but Summit County somehow got wind that he had come into some money and pounced! For two years Summit County collected child support for Tami while trying to find her.
We were there when they finally did —and they presented her with a check for more than $8-thousand dollars. But that wasn’t all. The checks were going to continue —$332 a month for 6 years, adding up to a total of nearly $32-thousand dollars! And she was to rightfully receive that money even though her two sons were now grown and had children of their own, because she had spent all her own money to raise them.
It was a wonderful moment and a great story that left all of us a little choked up. Could there be unclaimed child support out there for you or a child you love?
• There are statewide sites you can search for Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
• There are also sites to search certain counties in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, because often child support is handled at the county court level. Here they
• Cook County, IL
• Elkhart County, IN
• Franklin County Auditor, OH
For places not listed here, you should search the name of the state and/or county and the terms “unclaimed child support,” “Undeliverable child support” or “Undistributable Child Support” and see what you come up with.