Mass. DOR Not Making Child Support Payments Because of “Glitch” in Garnishing Unemployment Wages

By: Tom Duggan – Feb. 21, 2018

Methuen State Representative Diana DiZoglio says she wants to get to the bottom of why the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) failed to make child support payments to a secret number of children in the state for more than four weeks.

DiZoglio says she heard from a constituent in North Andover, Alexis Kelly, who complained about DOR not sending the payments she needs to care for her three children.

North Andover resident, Alexis Kelly hasn’t had a child support payment for more than four weeks.

“Both myself and another woman both have orders against Sean Kelly,” Alexis told The Valley Patriot.

“Her order is for $300 weekly, mine is for $400 weekly (she has one child, I have 3). Yet, on January 23rd we were both notified of pending child support payments from his unemployment.”

Kelly says that both she and Mr. Kelly’s first wife each received $220 and $160 for three weeks in total on January 23rd.

“As of January 24th, Mr. Kelly advised me that he was working with a ‘big wig’ at DOR who was ‘helping’ him with the wrongful child support guidelines. But, Mrs. Kelly says she contacted DOR and was told that there was a “glitch” in the system which has prevented them from garnishing child support payments from unemployment wages. 

“That’s just not acceptable,” Kelly said.

“I have three mouths to feed. What do I tell my kids? ‘Sorry I can’t buy groceries DOR has a glitch in their system?”

Dizoglio-solomonFor her part State Rep, DiZoglio says she contacted DOR about the matter and that while DOR vaguely admitted having a problem making child support payments, their response gave “zero details about how long this has been going on, how many children are affected, how much this is costing the state,” DiZoglio said.

“We have had some issues with our intercept program with the Department of Unemployment Assistance that we have been addressing,” A DOR spokesman told DiZoglio.

“The issues resulted in a relatively small number of cases where the payments we intercepted are being held until we review the cases and resolve them individually.  We are working through these cases and trying to get the payments out to custodial parents as soon as we can.” 

“I really want to know who is responsible for this, how did this happen, and how long it’s going to take to get resolved. Nothing in their statement addresses any of that,”DiZoglio told The Valley Patriot.

“Their answer was sorely lacking in detail.”

Dizoglio sent a follow up email Monday asking DOR officials to turn over relevant information about why some children are and have been denied needed child support payments, and how it happened.

“Thank you for acknowledging that there is an issue,” DiZoglio wrote, “however, I would like more information to understand how your agency is addressing this matter. I would like to know exactly how many cases amounts to ‘a relatively small number’ and want to know exactly how this issue is being addressed. These children depend daily on support of parents who are court-ordered to contribute financially to their well-being. 

I would greatly appreciate a response from your agency to the following 4 specific questions. 

  1. Exactly how many cases are there? 
  2. What exactly is being done to address the issue? 
  3. When exactly can we expect this issue to be resolved? 
  4. Who exactly is responsible for overseeing this operation?” 

“For many families, even one missed child support payment could translate into lack of basic necessities such as food, clothing and medicine. It’s unacceptable that these payments are not making their way through to children in need due to a glitch in the system of any kind. This issue should be top priority and resolved as quickly as humanly possible.”

“I’m glad representative DiZoglio is on top of this but in the mean time what do I tell my kids? How do I pay my bills” Alexis Kelly asked. “And how long are my kids going to have to wait?”

“I’m working on it,” DiZoglio assured The Valley Patriot.

“And if there are any other custodial parents out there being affected by this I want to hear from them. I want to know what’s going on here so we can fix the problem.”