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Louisiana officials snag casino winnings from delinquent

A Baton Rouge, Louisiana man thought he hit a jackpot, but instead, the money was confiscated by the state and put toward a growing bill of unpaid child support he owed.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) seized $1,995.40 of the man's $2,000 winnings at the Hollywood Casino. He was a non-custodial parent who had been making regular payments, but was still behind by $9,000 in two of his child support cases.

The proceedings were the first under a new collaboration between the DCFS and the Hollywood Casino to take winnings over $1,200 away from non-custodial parents. This was the first case of the DCFS taking winnings away from an individual with outstanding child support payments.

The DCFS pointed to the fact that non-custodial parents in Louisiana currently owe a combined $1.2 billion in unpaid child support, and state officials must explore every means possible to collect from delinquent parents in order to ease the burden on taxpayers. Data shows regular child support payment reduces dependency on cashed-based assistance programs by the state.

State officials say the program will prove to be a successful one long term. Data from other states with similar programs, like Mississippi and Indiana, back up those claims. Those states have collected more than $500,000 in unpaid child support by these means.

The DCFS will expand on the program later this year, taking it statewide to include all Louisiana casinos.

The program is the latest effort in a crackdown on delinquent non-custodial parents by the DCFS. As we mentioned in our last post, the agency also launched a Child Support Delinquent Payors Search online featuring 53,000 of the state's delinquent parents. It also released a list of the top 18 "most wanted" non-custodial parents, who combined to owe $945,000 in unpaid child support.

Though the state is putting in effort to help parents, there are many still dealing with the stress of having to fight for child support payments. In Louisiana, a qualified attorney who specializes in child support has the legal know-how to help parents get the money they are owed.

Source: KATC Channel 3, "DCFS Intercepts First Casino Winnings For Child Support Debt," Sept. 9, 2011

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