Whither Undistributed Child Support?
In the 2018 contest for attorney general, current AG Leevin Camacho pilloried his then-opponent, Doug Moylan, for not reducing, during his first term as AG, the amount of undistributed child support, or UDS, that had already accumulated in 2003, prior to the commencement Moylan’s previous term as AG.
The undistributed child support is the payment received from the non-custodial parent by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Office of Attorney General. For various reasons, such as the custodial parent residing in parts unknown, the payments cannot be forwarded to the custodial parent.
I decided to look into Camacho’s performance with respect to distributing accumulated UDS. On Aug. 29, 2022, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Camacho for documents containing the information but never received a response, even after I sent him a reminder of the legal requirement that he respond to FOIA requests within four days.
Then I ran across a nifty publication of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement titled “Preliminary Report, FY 2021.” It is packed with interesting facts.
Especially interesting were the following:
In FY2017 (before Camacho assumed office), the amount of Guam’s UDS at the end of the fiscal year was $5,125,738
In FY 2018 (before Camacho assumed office), the amount of Guam’s UDS at the end of the fiscal year was $5,289,711;
In FY 2019 (after Camacho assumed office), the amount of Guam’s UDS at the end of the fiscal year was $5,285,787;
In FY 2020, the amount of Guam’s UDS at the end of the fiscal year was $6,602,445;
In FY 2021, the amount of Guam’s UDS at the end of the fiscal year was $6,454,539
In short, at the end of the 2021 fiscal year, Guam’s UDS had increased by $1,164,828, (over 8 percent) under the leadership of Camacho, who has 15 months to go before his term ends. So much for Camacho’s claim to be the champion of custodial parents.
The most amazing fact I learned from the FY2021 preliminary report though is that it doesn’t have to be this way. It turns out that Guam has by far the highest UDS in the whole country. If you divide the total of distributed child support plus the undistributed child support, by the undistributed child support, a percentage will result. This is the percentage UDS bears to the total, distributed and undistributed, child support.
Guam has by far the highest, at 34.85 percent, the U.S. Virgin Islands is next at 12.23 percent, Hawaii follows at 8.99 percent, South Dakota at 5.33 percent, the rest of the states in descending order, and finally, Texas at 0.21 percent.
This tells me that this problem is not intractable. If other states and territories can tackle it, Guam can. I suggest that, if Doug Moylan takes over in January 2023, he should establish a UDS unit, located directly under him. Their first assignment should be to find out how the other states and territories address this problem so effectively.
Joseph Guthrie served as deputy attorney general on Guam from 2003 to 2006. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org