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Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act was passed in 1998 to amend the Child Support Recovery Act by making it a felony to fail to pay to pay child support for a child located in another state.

Child Support Recovery Act (CSRA)

The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 made it a federal crime to flee one state to avoid paying child support. For the law to apply the parent who is required to pay child support must owe at least $5,000 or the parent must have owed the past due amount for at least one year. The CSRA made it a misdemeanor to violate the provisions of the law and subjected the out-of-state parent to imprisonment of up to six months.

Amendments to the CSRA

In response to prosecutors who wanted harsher penalties for the most egregious violators, Congress enacted the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act to make fleeing a state to avoid paying child support a felony in some circumstances. If a parent who failed to pay child support has owed a minimum of $5,000 for a period of at least one year or if the parent owes at least $10,000, the parent may be charged with a felony and, if convicted, may be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of up to two years. As a part of the sentence, in either case, the court is required to order restitution in the amount of the past due child support. As a condition of probation or parole, the court may also impose a requirement that the parent pay current child support as well as any arrearage still due and owing.

Before a federal prosecutor will accept the case and bring criminal charges against the parent, the prosecutor will require that the parent who is the recipient of child support to first exhaust any civil and criminal state remedies. The federal prosecutor will consider whether there is a pattern of the violator traveling from state to state to avoid paying child support, whether the violator has attempted to conceal his or her identity, whereabouts, or employer to avoid being found; and, whether the violator has continued not paying, despite the fact that he or she had been cited for contempt several times by state courts.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.