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Dad pays a record in back child support

June 22, 2007|Jack Leonard | Times Staff Writer

For one deadbeat dad, a flight back from China turned out to be more costly than he could have imagined.

The father, whose name was not released, earlier this week paid $311,491 in back child and spousal support -- the largest amount ever collected in the United States -- after federal authorities refused to renew his passport while he was stuck in Hong Kong, Los Angeles County officials said Thursday.

The man left for China shortly before a family court judge ruled in 2005 that he should pay nearly $6,000 a month to his ex-wife and daughter, now 12.

Earlier this year, he began to make plans to return but discovered that federal authorities have a policy to deny passports to applicants owing more than $2,500 in support payments. The father had his attorney contact L.A. County's child support services to work out a settlement, which includes interest.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday June 23, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 61 words Type of Material: Correction
Deadbeat dad: An article in Friday's California section about a $311,491 child and spousal support payment quoted Los Angeles County child support services officials as saying that it was the largest ever in the United States. However, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families said Friday that there have been larger payments.

For Los Angeles County, the settlement marks the latest record payout by a parent in need of a new passport.

In 2003, a Rolling Hills man who wanted to travel to Asia on business paid $298,000 in back support. A year later, another father paid $300,000.

"This is a wake-up call for these individuals who should have been meeting their obligations," said Al Reyes, a spokesman for the county's Child Support Services Department.

David Sommers, a spokesman for Supervisor Don Knabe, hailed the payment as proof that enforcement of child support orders can pay off. Earlier this week, county supervisors earmarked $500,000 for an initiative to track down parents.

For every dollar the county invests in enforcement, "we get about $2 back in child support payments," Sommers said. "Rigorous enforcement means that the money is going back where it belongs -- into the pockets of these families."

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