U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, has introduced a bill that aims to help agencies collect child support payments. The bill would change federal law in a way that advocates believe would make it more difficult for parents to hide assets ahead of credit checks.

Specifically, the measure seeks to prevent delinquent parents from manipulating their financial status after a consumer reporting agency has requested their credit rating in order to avoid paying child support or reduce the amount that they owe.

Under current law, child support enforcement agencies must provide delinquent parents 10 days’  notice before requesting a credit report, giving that person time to move savings or run up debt to avoid or reduce payments. The bill would delete that 10-day notice provision, which the association said would “provide more effectiveness and efficiencies for employers, child support agencies and, most importantly, will get money to families faster.”

The Child Support Assistance Act of 2015, sponsored by Poliquin and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is backed by the National Child Support Enforcement Association, a group representing child support professionals and agencies nationwide. 

Poliquin and Ellison are both members of the House Financial Services Committee, which regulates the credit industry. Poliquin, for his 2016 re-election race, raised $700,000 in the first three months of the year, the second-highest amount for any House freshman. Of the total, $133,000 came from financial services industry political action committees, including $1,000 from credit reporting agency Equifax, which also supports the bill.

"Our goal at Equifax is to provide up-to-date income and employment information to agencies so they can more easily obtain payment where payment is due," said Debra Rohlman, vice president of Verifications Services, Equifax. "This legislation will ultimately benefit children, struggling parents who depend on child support, and the agencies that work tirelessly on behalf of families to ensure that payments are honored.”

Equifax, in a news release, adds:

The original language of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) causes confusion among agencies around when it is appropriate to obtain a consumer report in order to assist with efforts to locate a delinquent parent and enforce an appropriate level for child support payments. Further, current law mandates that agencies provide the delinquent, non-custodial parent a 10-day notice prior to requesting a consumer report - giving the delinquent parent ample time to manipulate his or her financial situation in order to dodge payment. This can delay child support payments and add a cost to states, as all such notices must be sent by certified or registered mail.

The Child Support Assistance Act will fix these issues by amending the FCRA to remove the 10-day notice requirement. Additionally, the bill will provide much needed clarity and consistency in how Agencies request consumer reports to set, modify and enforce child support awards. 

Poliquin added, "It’s imperative for Congress, Republicans and Democrats, to work together and ensure that our kids have all the possible opportunities to succeed and have a bright future. The Child Support Assistance Act will help our state and local authorities in assisting families to collect child support payments from delinquent parents.”

  

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