12/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Number One Form of Child Abuse in America

There are outstanding bench warrants for thousands of parents all across America.

A man named David, the president of a consulting company in California owes $198,954.70. Gene, a man who now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico dodged his obligation for some twenty years and is $242,147.00 in debt. And a dude from Illinois named Mark who sports a full brown beard, aviator glasses and a cheery smile owes an astounding $618, 679.00!

All of them owe the money to their children. And there are countless thousands more just like them who have reneged on agreed upon or court ordered child support. They are parents who have walked away from the most precious obligation one can have -- their own children. And, its not just delinquent Dads, there are plenty of Moms who are shortchanging their children too.

To me, this is America's number one form of child abuse.

The U.S. Census Bureau keeps track of the numbers and the latest statistics will knock your socks off. A grand total of 36.5 billion dollars worth of child support was not received in the year 2005. Wrap your head around that. 36 billion dollars that should have gone to help raise children wasn't there. You know who picks up the tab for the worst-off cases. You and I do.

I'm financially exhausted cleaning up after others failures.

Their reasons for non-payment of support are varied. The delinquent parent may be unemployed or in prison. Some simply withhold money to punish their ex. Others stop paying while waiting for a judge to hear their petition to reduce their monthly nut. Too many are just selfish people who live their lives oblivious to the needs of others.

Lots of them whine that they just don't make enough money to share with their children. Dare I say they should have thought about that before the produced kids?! They complain that the accruing interest adds to their burden. Welcome to reality, my friend! I don't care much for excuses. They brought these children into the world they should shoulder their responsibility. Paying nothing is unacceptable and criminal.

If that 36 billion dollar a year figure seems astronomical consider how high it would be if states hadn't gotten it together to try help. The feds and states now all work in tandem to shift the burden from the taxpayers back to where it belongs -- the parent.

It's a glorious thing when the law actually works to fix a problem. It's now required that employers report all new hires to child support enforcement authorities. If the responsible mom or dad changes jobs the right people will find out. If they put money into banks, credit unions or money market funds other red flags go up. Income tax refund checks are withheld until its clear there's no deadbeat parent on the receiving end. States help each other on warrants to reel in those who move from place to place to avoid their responsibility.

That's how authorities in Kansas came to arrest a man named Timothy Lopatofsky. He had abandoned his wife and two tiny children in Arizona in the 80's. He moved from state to state and never paid support even though he established a dot-com company that bills about 2 million dollars a year! Lopatofsky tops Arizona's "Daddy Dearest" list with a staggering debt of $382,947.67. He maintains it's all a big mistake.

Many states now have their own versions of the "Most Wanted Deadbeats" list and they make sure it gets published so the public can provide confidential tips. And there's the Passport Denial program which puts a flag on the passport of any parent who owes more than five grand. The feeling being if they have the money to travel overseas it should be going to toward their kids, not a vacation.

That's how Maryland officials recently came to arrest another six-figure delinquent as he returned from a Bahamian honeymoon with his new bride. When a judge ordered Karl Hoffman jailed for three years unless he came up with the $139,000.00 he owed -- lo and behold -- that's when he was suddenly able to produce the cash he'd withheld for so long.

Some might say this all smacks of Big Brother government. But I bet the folks helped by the New Mexico Human Services Division wouldn't agree. H.S.D. Communications Director Betina Gonzales McCracken tells me during the current fiscal year they helped deserving New Mexico parents collect a record breaking 103.2 million dollars in back child support. In Virginia, Child Support Enforcement agents collected more than 629 million dollars in 2007 for needy kids and their custodial parents. And even in sparsely populated North Dakota 114 million was wrangled out of recalcitrant parents.

In this shaky economic time that recovered money could mean the difference between a cold home or a warm one, a meal on the table or no food at all. This isn't chump change. This is survival money.

Big Brother? I say Bravo!

Diane Dimond's website is She can be contacted at