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Federal Child Support Enforcement Laws


FEDERAL DEADBEAT PARENT PUNISHMENT ACT

Child support enforcement issues are usually handled by state and local authorities, but in a limited set of circumstances federal jurisdiction is applies in a child support matter. While most parents make their child support payments, some try to avoid their responsibility. When that happens the Federal government will aggressively pursue parents who fail to pay court-ordered child support by evoking the Federal Deadbeat Parent's Punishment Act.

Requirements for a Violation

The Office of the Inspector General can intervene when one of the following occurs:

  • The noncustodial parent willfully fails to pay child support for more than 1 year and the noncustodial parent and child(ren) live in different states or
  • The amount the noncustodial parent owes is more than $5,000 and the noncustodial parent and child(ren) live in different states or
  • The noncustodial parent travels to another State or country to avoid paying child support.

Punishment

  • First offense for failure to pay child support is a fine, up to 6 months in prison, or both.
  • Second or subsequent offense or where the obligation has been unpaid for more than 2 years or is in excess of $10,000, the punishment increases to a fine of up to $250,000, 2 years in prison, or both.
  • Mandatory restitution of the child support amount owed.

If you think this law isn't enforced, think again. To see the status of deadbeats on the Office of the Inspector General's website click here

PASSPORT DENIAL PROGRAM

The Passport Denial Program, part of the Federal Offset Program, is designed to help states enforce delinquent child support obligations. Noncustodial parents certified by a state as having arrears exceeding $2,500 are submitted by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement to the Department of State. The DOS will then deny that person a U.S. passport upon application or the use of a passport service. Noncustodial parents are not automatically removed from the Passport Denial Program even if their arrears fall below the $2,500 threshold.

OTHER FEDERAL PROGRAMS USED TO COLLECT CHILD SUPPORT ARREARS

  • Federal Income Tax Refund Offset - tax refunds owed to noncustodial parents with child support arrears are intercepted, and sent to the state child support agency through Office of Child Support Enforcement, to pay the noncustodial parent's past-due child support.
  • Administrative Offset - Types of payments that can be intercepted include ONE TIME AND RECURRING payments to private vendors who perform work for a government agency, federal retirement payments, and relocation and travel reimbursements owed to federal employees.
  • Multi-state Financial Institution Data Match – Used as a resource for locating the assets of individuals owing child support obligations. State child support programs can issue liens or levies on the accounts of the non-custodial parent to collect past-due child support.
  • Federal Insurance Match Programs - The Office of Child Support Enforcement has the authority to compare information on individuals owing past-due child support with information maintained by insurers (or their agents) concerning any insurance claims, settlements, awards, and payments. The OCSE conducts the match and provides any matches to the state agencies responsible for collecting child support from those delinquent obligors. These types of claims subject to insurance match include:
    • Annuity
    • Disability
    • Dividend Withdrawals
    • Life Insurance
    • Mutual Fund
    • Policy Surrender
    • Property and Casualty including auto bodily injury liability; directors and officers liability; errors and omissions liability; general liability
    • Workers' compensation
    • Unemployment

For more information on Federal child support collection visit Citizen's Guide To U.S. Federal Law On Child Support Enforcement

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