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Failure to Make Child Support Payments is a Federal Offense

How the Federal Government Handles Child Support Non-Payment


Man standing behind bars in prison cell, close-up of hands
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A non-custodial parent faces several penalties if he or she fails to make scheduled, regular child support payments. Here are a few examples of penalties associated with child support non-payment:

  • Driver's License Suspension
  • Inability to Obtain a Passport
  • Imprisonment
  • Wage Garnishment

Child Support Non-Payment for Military Single Parents

Military single parents who fail to pay child support face severe penalties for child support non payment. However, the penalties differ for military single parents versus civilian parents. One potential penalty for military single parents is dismissal from military service.

Child Support Non-Payment and the Federal Government

If a non-custodial parent, charged with child support non-payment, moves to a different state to avoid child support payments, he or she may be be convicted of a federal offense under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act. In order to secure a conviction under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, the federal government must prove:

  • The non-custodial parent had the ability to pay child support
  • The non-custodial parent failed to pay child support
  • Child support has not been paid for at least a year
  • The non-custodial parent owes more than $5000 of child support

The government maintains a list of parents negligent in child support payments, sometimes referred to as deadbeats.

Defenses to Child Support Non-Payment

Non-custodial single parents who have fallen behind on child support payments can attempt to prove that:

  • He or she is unable to pay, but provides other support such as clothing, food or provides child care to the child, when necessary or
  • Back child support is not owed or has not accrued to a level that requests back support payments

Parents who struggle with child support payments should try to work something out with a state agency or seek a modification of child support from a state Family Court. Custodial parents seeking back child support from a non-custodial parent should seek help with their state's Child Support Enforcement Agency.

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