Child Support Enforcement and Federal Criminal Law
Child support enforcement is a
growing area of family law. Once child support has been ordered by a Court, or
agreed upon by two parents, it is not always smooth sailing. Although we hear a
lot about "deadbeat parents" (and there are both moms and dads who are
deadbeats), the overwhelming majority of parents pay support and take care of
their children as agreed upon or ordered. But, when that is not the case, you
have to know how child support enforcement works.
Child support enforcement in one form or another is available in every state
for collecting against deadbeat parents. Those child support enforcement
remedies include wage garnishment, intercepting tax refunds, suspending a
driver's or professional license, and more.
In addition to the child support enforcement remedies that the individual
states provide, the is a federal remedy which is often overlooked, but which is
very effective. That child support enforcement remedy is the Child Support
Recovery Act of 1992.
Under the Child Support Recovery Act, the failure to pay child support, if
wilful, is a federal crime if the parent who owes support lives in a different
state than the parent who is receiving the support. Relying on this criminal
statute can be a very effect child support enforcement tool.
The purpose of the Federal Child Support Recovery Act was to prevent a parent
from moving to a different state or a foreign jurisdiction for the purpose of
evading a child support order. However, since we live in an incredibly mobile
society, it is not unusual to have a support paying parent in one state and a
support receiving parent living in another state. When that happens, the Federal
Act is available as a remedy for interstate child child support enforcement.
A first offense under the Federal Child Support Recovery Act can result in a
prison sentence of up to six months in addition to monetary fines. A second
conviction can result in more jail time and greater fines.
The Child Support Recovery Act was amended in 1998 and is now know as the
Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act. The 1998 Act makes it a federal crime to travel
to another state to avoid a child support obligation, if that support obligation
is greater than $5000 and has remained unpaid for more than one year. If the
obligation is greater than $10,000 and has remained unpaid for more than 2
years, if is a federal crime under the 1998 Deadbeat Parents Act simply to have
not paid the child support.
The penalties available for child support enforcement under the 1998 Deadbeat
Parents Act include prison sentences, fines and restitution. Restitution is the
payment of money to the custodial parent in an amount equal to the child support
arrearage existing at the time that the defendant is sentenced. Probation can
also be imposed and can include conditions such as the payment of child support
and mandatory employment. A violation of those terms of probation can result in
the imposition of additional prison time.
If you are owed child support and the parent who is supposed to pay lives in
another state, consult with an attorney to discuss whether the Federal Deadbeat
Parents Act can help you with child support enforcement and collect the support
due to you.
Jean Mahserjian has practiced family law for close to two decades and is the
author of many books devoted to helping consumers understand family law. To
download free excerpts from her family law books, visit:
Child Support and
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