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'Most wanted' deadbeat parent arrested after 20 years

Child support is an obligation the state places on parents of children when the adults end their relationship. The action might be prompted by divorce. In some cases, the parents aren't married, but parenthood has been established and the assignment of child support becomes possible. The rationale, of course, is that support is in the best interest of the children and it's the obligation of parents to provide.

Most of the time, parents fulfill this obligation without complaint because they care and know it's for the good of the children. Sometimes, though, an obligor parent comes up short and it becomes necessary to seek help to enforce compliance with support orders

There are different tools that can be leveraged to see that these obligations are met. In the worst situations, this might include calling on police to enforce criminal charges. But for authorities to act, they need to know where the wanted individual is.

That's not always possible, as one recent case reflects. According to news reports, this "Most Wanted Deadbeat" parent had been living under an assumed identity in Canada, possibly since 1998.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says this man is nearly $560,000 in arrears on child support payments. He was turned in in February by a suspicious Calgary restaurant owner who had come to know him. He has since been arraigned in U.S. federal court and is expected to be tried in Michigan.

Officials say the man divorced from his wife in 1989. At the time, he was ordered to pay $100 a month in support for his four children. But after claiming disability and unemployment, the court reduced that to $14 a month. In 1996, the government says the man sold a business for $2 million and the support order was changed to reflect the variance. It was apparently then that he disappeared and stopped paying.

Whether the child support owed will ever be paid is unknown at this point. What is clear is that it won't have been for lack of trying.

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