Child support debt reaches €300m but more money being recovered

In 2018 the Latvian state covered the child support expenses of 45,000 children from divorced families. Even though more funds are being recovered from child support debtors, the total debt has reached €300m including interest. Officials say this is due to the fact that it's become easier to apply for child support.

In 2017 a number of sanctions were introduced for child support debtors, such as publishing their name online as well as taking their driver's licenses away.

Thus the funds recovered increased to €8 million in 2018, twice over the 2016 rate. Moreover, this tendency is continuing with €1.5 million more recovered by April 2019 on year, said Edgars Līcītis, an official at the Maintenance Guarantee Fund.

Nevertheless the total debt has doubled within the past three years and has reached close to €300 million with interest.

The Justice Ministry says this is because, from 2017, there is no court decision necessary to apply for child support. Thus the number of children supported by the state has increased by 10,000 since 2016.

Some debtors are now facing criminal responsibility. This applies in the scenario when debtors are not registered as unemployed but aren't earning any money. Of about 400 people facing criminal charges, some have already been sentenced to community service. 

The Justice Ministry said that bringing criminal charges is not the real goal. Instead, this stick is waved to prevent payment avoidance.

Starting July, a number of changes are to be introduced. Individuals will be motivated to pay their outstanding debts in that the principal sum will be covered foremost, with interest dropped if the debt is covered within two years.

Likewise from July debtors will no longer be allowed to have firearms, and new regulations are scheduled to prevent them from gambling and taking payday loans.

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