Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Annual Report Installments - Child Support

Over the last eleven years, the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims has been responsible for recovering over one hundred eighteen million dollars in child support arrearages. Each year, the collected total has exceeded eight million dollars. In 2012-13, the total was $9,626,855.

It is relevant that when the OJCC was tasked with this process, there was no increase in OJCC funding or personnel. No additional staff was added to this agency to perform the process of checking child support documents associated with settlements of workers' compensation claims. 

In 2012-13, the OJCC undertook the responsibility for receiving requests for child support arrearages, according to the Department of Revenue (DOR). An agreement was made with the DOR, internal OJCC processes were designed for our district staff to receive your e-filed information requests. We began looking up the arrearage information in the DOR database and providing that information to you, to be integrated into your settlement documents. 

In 2013-14 (last September), the OJCC undertook the responsibility of also looking up the child support information according to the County and Circuit Clerks. This required changes in process for OJCC staff, and some adjustments for attorneys. It has been a positive shift in the way child support information is obtained. 

Admittedly, there have been some instances in which the process changes have been frustrating. I appreciate hearing from attorneys who feel the process caused complications in particular cases. It is this kind of feedback that allows us to adjust and refine. We will be working in December this year to make some fine-tuning adjustments to our reporting process. 

Instituting the process, looking at these arrearages, was the right thing to do. Adopting a process that makes it less work-intensive and expensive for attorneys to obtain this data also is the right thing to do. With this new process, all 67 counties are searched when arrearage information is requested. This alone is a vast improvement over the prior process which involved only certain counties. 

The volume of child support recovered in the last eleven years ($118,037,561) is incredible. As incredible, the OJCC collects an average arrearage total of about 60% of the overall OJCC budget. That's right, without additional resources or staff, this Office collects millions of dollars in child support annually, generally more than half of the total operating budget annually. 

A great process. A great illustration of the service this Office provides to Florida.

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