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Should jackpot be seized if winner owes child support?

Last year, we shared a story about a state that does not allow those who hit it big at the casino to enjoy all of their winnings, if they owe child support to their kids. The state garnishes large casino winnings to put toward back child support. Though Florida does not have a similar program, it is an increasingly popular idea around the country.

One of the latest states to consider seizing all or part of gambling prizes is Ohio, where the governor has proposed it as part of his state budget. The state House passed the bill in April, and the Senate was scheduled to begin debating it on May 7.

A spokesman for the governor said that the bill was based on the principle that “people should take care of their kids.” Sometimes, because of a job loss or other economic setback, a non-custodial parent can no longer afford to make child support payments. But obviously, when someone wins a big jackpot at a casino or racetrack, that may be a different matter.

As readers may know, gambling prizes above a certain amount (depending on the game) must be reported to the IRS. The bill would garnish up to 100 percent of the remaining winnings and turn it over to the custodial parent.

Would a law like this one help more parents and children in Florida get the child support they are owed? Or would it be a form of government intrusion into the non-custodial parent’s affairs? Child support can be a sensitive subject, since money and children are involved.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Casino jackpots in Ohio might be seized for child support,” Catherine Candisky, May 7, 2014

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