Consequences of not Paying Child Support

Couples who have a child or children, but who decide to end their marital union through divorce, still have the legal obligation of making sure that all the needs of their child/children are provided for. This legal obligation, which is more commonly known as child support or child maintenance, is paid on a regular basis (usually monthly) by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent or to whoever has been determined by the court to care for the child/children (like a guardian, a caregiver or the government itself). Courts usually name a custodian other than the parents if both parents have been declared unfit to care for their child or if both parents will not be able to perform their parental duties due to serious medical condition).

Child support is one of the major issues which spouses or those who enter into a relationship and have a child will need to settle due to divorce, annulment/dissolution of a marital/civil union, or separation. Determination of child support is made by a court order, being such, its payment, therefore, is a legal obligation (even if the non-custodial parent were to declare bankruptcy, payment of child support cannot be dismissed). Non-payment of this court-ordered support can mean fines and jail time for the non-custodial parent.

Despite the risk of punishment, however, thousands of cases have been reported over the years, specifically of non-custodial parents fleeing to other states to be able to escape payment of child support. Due to this, the Child Support Recovery Act (CSRA) was passed in 1992. Under this Act, the Federal government, state and local authorities are able to assist one another, especially, in determining the whereabouts of those who try to escape child support payment. Non-custodial parents, who are also found to owe at least $2,500 in child support, will not be able to receive a U.S. passport. This mandate is declared by the US Passports & International Travel of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. It is only upon settlement of owed amount will application for a passport be accepted, however, it may still take the Passport Services two to three weeks before the processing of passport application gets approved).

To better provide assistance to custodial parents who seek payment for child support or child support arrears, “Title IV-D” agencies have been created in each state. One major task of these agencies is the maintenance of a State PLS (parent locator service), which helps in locating hiding non-custodial parents.

A non-custodial parent, after his or her whereabouts has been discovered, may be made to face federal prosecution if it can be confirmed that he or she willfully failed to pay child support, skipped payment for more than 1 year, or the amount owed is more than $5,000. As explained in the website of The Maynard Law Firm, PLLC, computation of child support amount varies by state; in Texas, however, the Texas Family Code generally provides that non-custodial parents should pay at least 20% of their net resources or the support of one child, 25% for two children, and 30% for three children.

There comes a time when the financial situation of non-custodial parents changes, rendering them unable to continue paying the amount originally agreed upon.

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