The financial and emotional abandonment of children is a national problem. High rates of divorce, separation, and out-of-wedlock births have transformed the setting in which many children are being raised. Although many children do not live with both of their parents, every child needs and deserves support from both parents.

The Child Support Enforcement Program was established by Congress in 1975. The purpose of the program was to collect support payments for children in single-parent (or single-guardian) families. The program had two goals, to ensure that children are supported financially by both parents and to reduce public assistance expenditures.

Federal and State laws require that if a parent owes child support, part of that parent's wages, periodic income, or other income must be withheld to pay support. The purpose of these laws is to guarantee timely and regular payment of child support.

Income withholding is the most reliable method of ensuring support is paid. Nationally more than 70% of the dollars collected in child support come directly from income withholdings done by employers. Employers collect more than half of all child support and have an essential role in ensuring that children are financially supported by their obligor parents.

Employers become involved in the child support process after a court has ordered that a parent pay child support and/or provide medical support. The court order states the amount of support to be paid monthly by the obligor parent and the payment cycle. The court order may also require a payment toward arrears in addition to a current support payment. Thus, before an employer receives a wage withholding request from a child support office, the parents have had an opportunity to go before a judge. The judge has decided that the parents are legally required to pay support and has determined the amount of support they owe.

In addition to financial support, the Child Support Enforcement Program also ensures that medical support is provided to children. Medical support is the provision of health care insurance, including vision and dental coverage. Employers also assist the child support program by providing health care insurance coverage for the obligor parents' children.

Employers also help the program reduce public assistance expenditures. By withholding child support payments, employers ensure timely and consistent payment of support. When a family receives regular child support payments, they are less likely to need public assistance or other publicly funded social services such as food stamps.