The province is hoping a revamped website will help track down deadbeat parents who fall behind on their child support, including one parent who owes $1.2 million in back payments.
The province unveiled the site this week. It allows members of the public to view profiles of parents who are significantly behind on their obligations.
A similar site has been in operation since 2000, but the retooled page allows Albertans to view the top 10 offenders in the province and to view the profiles broken down by geographic areas.
For a parent to be included on the site, he or she has to be at least six months behind on child support and have failed to show for a court hearing.
Justice Minister Alison Redford was on hand for the launch and said these debtors have done a lot more than simply fall a little behind. The website features 150 debtors from all corners of the province.
“These are the worst of the worst.”
Prior to placing the debtors on the site the department usually cancelled driver’s licenses, revoked passports and used other measures to track down deadbeat parents.
Redford believes many of these parents are deliberately attempting to live off the grid to avoid their obligation. She said people often assume child support is for parents, but it is about the children’s welfare.
“Child support is the right of the child and when it is said like that I don’t see how anyone can disagree with it,” she said. “It is a responsibility not an option.”
Program director Manuel da Costa said the program works with people who have lost jobs or fallen behind in their support payments for financial reasons, but the debtors on the website don’t want to work with the system.
“We need to find these difficult debtors and their assets.”
Combined, the top 10 worst offenders on the site owe $1.6 million including one who owes $1.2 million and another who hasn’t made a payment in eight years. In total, the 150 debtors on the site owe $5 million to their kids.
Redford said the province wants children to have financial and emotional support from both of their parents. She said they can’t legislate emotional support, but they can make sure parents pay up.
“Happy, healthy, supported children are more likely to become happy, healthy adults and that is in everyone’s best interests.”
To view the site and report tips on the debtors visit: http://justice.gov.ab.ca/mep/help_find.aspx