When a child support order has been established, many states (e.g. North Carolina ) have (and all states should) adopt a policy that the state debt can be no larger than the child support obligation. So, if the child support obligation is set under the guidelines at $50 per month and the father pays that amount, no state debt accrues. If the order is $50 and the father doesn't pay, then the state debt is $50 per month. The viability of this approach is recognized by federal regulations. 45 CFR Sections 302.50(a)(2) and (b)(2).
A more difficult issue arises when there is no court order. In many states, the state establishes a "state debt" equal to the amount of assistance provided to the family for the period when there was no order in place. The state then tries to collect this state debt through the IVD system. A number of courts have found this to be illegal. Jackson v. Rapps, 947 F.2d 332 (8th Cir. 1991); Mushero v. Ives, 949 F.2d 513, 517 n.1 (1st Cir. 1991).
Federal law requires states to take an assignment of support rights from TANF families "not exceeding the total amount of assistance provided to the family". 42 USC Section 608(a)(3) (1996). This language places a ceiling on the amount of money a state can claim under the assignment but not a floor.
IN OTHER WORDS STATE CANNOT TAKE/EXPECT ARREARS FROM YOU THAT EXCEED WELFARE BENEFITS PROVIDED TO EX