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Federal penalties for skipping child support payments

A divorce in Pennsylvania can be difficult, especially if children are involved. While spouses are eager to move on in life, it is often the children who suffer the most in a divorce. When the court considers the best interest of the child, the judge will usually order one parent to take custody of the child and the other parent to pay child support.

In the event that the supporting parent does not pay the child support, either on time or not at all, child support enforcement matters are handled by the state and local governments and not by the federal government. Child support matters are rarely handled by the federal government. However, there are many state agencies that enforce child support. There are only a few agencies in Pennsylvania. Those agencies are known as Title IV-D and they enforce child support enforcement duties.

In 1992, a federal law known as the Child Support Recovery Act was passed. The act made child support enforcement easier. It administered the strictest punishment to those who did not pay child support. The authorities realized that it was important to impose serious consequences on the violators of the child support agreement.

Section 228, Title 18, states that it is a crime to not pay child support for a child just because that child is living in another state. The parent will face prosecution if that person fails to pay child support for more than one year, or if the amount of child support that the parent owes exceeds $5,000. Any violation is considered a criminal offense. The offender may face a penalty of six months in prison.

If the child support amount that is due is above $10,000, or if the parent has not paid child support for than two years, the parent is liable to face two years in prison.

Source: The United States Department of Justice, "Child Support Enforcement," Accessed on June 2, 2015

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