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Women filing claims at a courthouse in 2006 Photo by Moti Kimche
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Men who refuse to pay child support will be banned from public office, denied benefits from state institutions and forbidden from having mobile phones, if a new government bill is passed.

The bill, formulated by the Justice Ministry's Enforcement and Collection Authority with Minister Yaakov Neeman's backing, is expected to revolutionize child-support debt collection.

However, some of the sanctions it proposes for child-support evaders may raise hackles.

About 116,000 cases are pending in the Bailiff's Office, most of them against men who do not pay child support after leaving or divorcing their wives, Enforcement and Collection Authority Director David Madioni told Neeman last week.

The debts accumulated in these cases total about NIS 12 billion, according to the Enforcement and Collection Authority figures. Each case consists of an average debt of NIS 11,000 each and takes the Bailiff's Office 14-18 years to handle, Madioni said.

He said child-support cases are more complicated than others. Many women are not familiar with debt collection laws and find it difficult to handle the cases. Consequently many of them give up to avoid submitting requests and paying expenses involved in managing the case.

The government bill, which will soon be released to judiciary officials and the public, stipulates setting up a child support department in four Bailiff's Office branches nationwide.

Clerks specializing in collecting child-support will act for the women who open a file and collect the debt for them.

Women will be able to open a file themselves and leave the debt collection work to the Bailiff's clerks, who will trace the husband or former husband's financial sources and collect the debt.

The bill introduces sanctions that can be imposed on husbands who owe child support without prior warning. Such warning is presently required before the collection process could be started.

The bill says Bailiff's registrars who receive the child support cases will be able to keep deadbeat dads from owning a cell phone, ban their employment by a state institution or their appointment or election to public office.

Deadbeat dads may also be denied benefits received from state institutions.

The Bailiff's clerks will have access to the debtors' tax and VAT reports and business transactions in the Tax Authority's data banks. They will also be authorized to obtain information about any inheritance the deadbeat dad has received or is expected to receive.

They will have access to the Custodian General and databanks with information on the debtors' property, monthly income and expense reports.

Enforcement and Collection officials said in other countries authorities may arrest deadbeat dads, revoke their driver's license and passport, suspend their flying, sailing, hunting or fishing licenses and sometimes even revoke professional licenses.

The National Insurance Institute, which pays child support to families of deadbeat dads up to a certain sum of money, charges the debtors for the payments, but usually collects less than half the sum it pays the families.

The bill says the Bailiff's child-support clerks will also be authorized to collect the husbands' debts owed the NII.