When past due payments become a misdemeanor

No matter what type of expense may arise, financial support in a child custody arrangement can be crucial. California parents who are experiencing difficulties in receiving the proper amount of payments – or support altogether – have valid concerns for their children. Timely payments may not seem a major aspect of a child support process, but just one missed payment could place a child’s health, educational goals and even safety on the line. 

One common challenge for struggling parents involves the details of child support laws. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides an accessible brochure on collecting child support, stating that the primary focus of a state’s child support program is to ensure that children receive regular payments and the correct amounts. While each state may have varying forms of financial planning, Congress enforces an immediate income withholding in all child support orders. Unless a parent proves they are unable to make payments, they could face withholding through income tax, social security or payroll deduction. Child support offices may require further action if a parent fails to send child support payments entirely. 

Many distressed parents have had the unfortunate experience of extremely overdue payments. The Children’s Rights Council, an organization that aims to support children in separated families, shares that the The Child Support Recovery Act specifically constitutes a willful, past due child support payment as a federal misdemeanor offense. The “willfulness” of a parent who fails to make payments can create some gray areas, however, as the CRC explains that a parent must have known about the obligation and must have subsequently refused to make payments. Just as the aforementioned source noted the involvement of Congress in such matters, the CRC adds that the FBI and the U.S. Department of State can also investigate enforced child support payment cases.