The federal government usually doesn't involve itself to regulate child support matters. Instead, the states take the leading role in enforcing child support payments. The federal government can get involved, but it happens very rarely. Because of this, parents who wish to report child support agreement violations should contact local law enforcement.
There are various civil and criminal solutions for recovering due child support payments. Federal law ensures that "Title IV-D" agencies operate in every state. These agencies can help you collect child support payments by enforcement if necessary. Check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Support Enforcement and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General for detailed information about the process.
Federal Child Support Laws
The federal government first gained the ability to enforce child support payments after passing the Child Support Recovery Act in 1992. This law was aimed at people who tried to avoid paying child support that was imposed upon them by the state. Federal agencies successfully prosecuted some child support evaders, but they quickly realized that the penalties for not fulfilling child support obligations were too low to stop egregious offenders. The minor flaws of CSRA were fixed by a much stricter law, called Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act. It was passed in 1998. Under this law, federal agencies introduced more severe ways to punish offenders.
Under federal law, intentionally not fulfilling child support obligations is a crime. People found guilty of this crime will face financial penalties or even jail time. Check Citizen's Guide to Federal Law on Child Support Enforcement for detailed info.
Past Due Amounts of Child Support
Courts will forgive very little when it comes to failure to make child support payments. If a specific parent fails to make a payment, the overdue payment is labeled as "arrearage" and the parent is described as "in arrears". If a parent ends up in arrears, he or she can request a modification of the monthly child support amount, but it will not affect past payments. The courts will still demand that the parent pays his debts fully.
Child Support and Bankruptcy
Usually, bankruptcy can absolve you of most debts, but it can not remove your child support obligations. In the eyes of the law, child support payments are treated as a public policy issue. Of course, this money will also be used to provide basic care for the kids. Public policy is designed to prevent parents from abandoning their children without financial support by declaring bankruptcy.
Wage Garnishment and the Federal Government
Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act specifies the maximum portion of an employee's wages that can be taken by the government and prevents the firing of the individual if there is no more than one debt. Title III is governed by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration. However, this governing institution is not allowed to meddle in the matters of child support in any other way. Under this law, savings income, hourly and yearly earnings, earned bonus, pension, or retirement benefits are all protected and viewed the same way. Wage garnishment law does not categorize tips as an official income. The law protects every individual in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and any other territories of the U.S.
Finding an Experienced Child Support Attorney
If you are the child's legal guardian or custodian and you want to find out whether or not you're eligible for child support payments, or how much you should be getting, you should probably speak with a family law attorney. If you find a capable attorney, you can also negotiate with your spouse to agree on the amount that works for both parties. When determining the amount of child support payments, courts always account for a child's basic needs. However, a child support agreement can be modified if the child's needs or the parent's financial conditions are different. If you're a parent in this situation, get in touch with a local child support lawyer to help you negotiate an adjustment.