Child support only became law in 1950 but enforcement and collection practices didn’t become serious until 1975 when a parent locator service was established.
In 1984 mandatory withholding procedures were established for all states. In addition, states were allowed to report delinquent parents to consumer credit agencies.
In 1988, The Family Support Act was enacted, requiring the courts to use State guidelines when establishing support amounts and requiring them to review their guidelines every four years. Another important provision established with the Child Recovery Act of 1992 made it a Federal crime to willfully fail to pay past-due child support payments with respect to a child who resides in another State. Those delinquent on child support became ineligible for small business loans in 1994.
Legislation enacted in 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, called for the development of a number of social services programs aimed towards working with fathers.
In 1998, the law established two new categories of felony offenses, subject to a 2-year maximum prison term. The offenses were:
(1) traveling in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to evade a support obligation if the obligation has remained unpaid for more than 1 year or is greater than $5,000; and
(2) willfully failing to pay a child support obligation regarding a child residing in another State if the obligation has remained unpaid for more than 2 years or is greater than $10,000.
In 2000, the Uniform Parentage Act was established in the hope that states would enact it and become more uniform in their approach to parentage, especially paternity. Among other things, it emphasized genetic testing, but also recognized the strength of acknowledgement of paternity.
Fathers aren’t the only ones paying child support. If a deadbeat dad refuses to work and the county welfare agency pays to help support a child, they are more than willing to garnish the mother’s wages once she begins working if she is not the custodial parent.
Presently, state officials continue to press county agencies to spike their collection rates.
In all 50 states, parents that are divorced (or separated if they were never married) have an ongoing legal obligation to support their children. It is becoming harder than ever for deadbeat parents to skip out on child support. Strict laws have been enacted to establish and enforce child support orders. And federal, state and local agencies have powerful child-support collection tools at their disposal.
States have more means at their disposal to “encourage” support payment:
- Wage Deductions – the custodial parent, his or her attorney, or OCSS can request an income withholding order or wage assignment. With a wage deduction, child support is taken directly out of the non-custodial (paying) parent’s wages.
- Federal Income Tax Intercepts – the state can intercept a large tax refund to cover late or missing child support payments.
- License Suspensions and Revocations – a delinquent parent’s driver’s license(s) and/or professional license(s) may be revoked.
- Passport Restrictions – a parent that fails to pay child support may be prevented from renewing his or her passport (and therefore prevented from leaving the country).
- Contempt of Court – this is a legal order that may result in a fine or jail time for the parent who failed to make court-ordered support payments. However, the custodial parent (or his or her attorney) must go to court to obtain this order from a judge.