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More Than $97 Million in Delinquent Child Support Being Sought By Jefferson County Attorney

More women than ever are behind on their child support payments, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell said on Thursday.

Women make up about 10 percent of the people on the annual published list of delinquent child support obligors in Jefferson County, which will be released Sunday. You can see the list for yourself by clicking here.

Just more than $5 million is owed by the 400 women on the list, O’Connell said.

For the 3,436  men on the list, $92 million is owed.  

O’Connell attributed the rise in delinquent women obligors to high rates of unemployment and incarceration.

“It’s a product of society,” O’Connell told WFPL.  “Financial difficulties, obviously, are not gender specific.”

This is the ninth annual publishing of the list; it will be published Sunday in The Courier-Journal. 

Angela Anton, director of the county attorney office's Child Support Division, said the percentage of women on the has been steadily increasing. When the list was first published, women made up just about 5 percent, she said.

“I think we were even shocked by the 10 percent, even though we do this work every day,” Anton said.

Anton said increasing delinquent child support obligors, both men and women, is a rising problem across the U.S.

She said billions of dollars in delinquent payments are due nationwide.

“It is a shame,” she said.

The 3,836 named on the list are at least 12 months delinquent on payments of more than $1,000 with no payment made in the past six months, O’Connell said.  The most owed by a single person on the list is $238,089.49, according to a news release from the county attorney's office.

The previous lists have led to $11.8 million in delinquent payments being collected, O’Connell said.  Last year, nearly $2 million was collected.

In 2013, $70 million in child support payments were collected, which accounts for about 19 percent of the Kentucky’s total child support collections, O’Connell said.

Anton said about 80 percent of child support payments go directly to families.

She said list is a proven method for gathering information on people who owe child support. But the most effective method for collecting child support payments, she said, is through wage withholding orders—when payments are deducted through an obligor’s wages.

With 60,000 active child support cases in Jefferson County , Anton stressed that a “large percent” of cases are up to date in regards to payment.

“This list does not mean there aren’t people who aren’t meeting their obligations everyday,” she added.

O’Connell said the cost of the newspaper space for the list is $25,000.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.