Custodial parents throughout California can vouch for the importance of financial support from noncustodial parents when it comes to meeting children's educational, medical and everyday expenses. Unfortunately, delinquent noncustodial parents who fail to meet their child support obligations are a problem year in and year out.
Because the problem has decades of history, Congress passed the Child Support Recovery Act in 1992 to allow state authorities to file misdemeanor charges against chronically delinquent parents. In 1998, Congress fixed problems with the CSRA by passing the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act to allow felony charges in the worst cases.
Both the CSRA and the DPPA make it illegal for noncustodial parents to willfully fail to make timely child-support payments. Convictions can bring imprisonment and fines. Federal laws also mandate that Title IV-D agencies - the departments that administer child-welfare programs in every state - must provide enforcement services to all custodial parents who ask for them.
Noncustodial parents can face federal misdemeanor charges if they do not pay support for children residing in other states, their outstanding support exceeds $5,000 or the payment more than 1 year delinquent. Conviction can bring up to 6 months in jail or prison. When the outstanding support exceeds $10,000 or payments are 2 or more years overdue, noncustodial parents can face felony charges and the possibility of 2 years in prison.
Federal child-support laws also prohibit noncustodial parents from crossing state lines or international boundaries if the outstanding child support exceeds $5,000 or is overdue for more than 1 year. Noncustodial parents who attempt to leave the state or country can face charges with the potential of up to 2 years in prison.
Orange County parents who face such issues should know that all child-support matters must be heard first by state courts before being considered by federal courts.
Source: Justice.gov, "Citizen's Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Support Enforcement," Accessed on March 24, 2015