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Can failing to pay child support be a federal offense?

| Mar 11, 2015 | Child Support |

No matter if you and your child’s other parent were previously married or not, you are both legally obligated to financially support your child. Illinois State and federal laws mandate child support obligations, and institute a number of measures for enforcing such guidelines. Despite the fact that your child support decree may have been established in Illinois, there are instances when failing to make mandatory child support payments falls under federal guidelines and jurisdiction. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the circumstances under which you or your child’s other parent’s failure to pay child support could be considered a federal offense.

The United States Department of Justice discusses child support enforcement guidelines, and explains that local and state agencies are typically responsible for addressing child support issues. Failure to pay legally established child support only becomes a federal issue under specific circumstances. For instance, refusing to pay child support becomes a criminal misdemeanor offense in cases where the amount owed is more than $5,000 and/or is over 12 months late. Similarly, knowingly failing to pay child support for a child who lives out of state is also considered a federal misdemeanor crime, and can result in a six-month prison sentence.

You or your child’s other parent may be accused of committing a criminal felony offense if the amount of child support owed is higher than $10,000 and/or is overdue by more than two years. In such cases, other financial penalties can be imposed by the federal court, and you could be subject to a longer prison sentence. Your child’s other parent could also face a two-year prison sentence if he or she attempts to avoid paying child support by leaving the state or country under some circumstances as well.

It is important to keep in mind, however, several other factors can be taken into consideration when determining whether or not failing to pay child support is a federal crime. Therefore, you should not use the information provided above as legal advice.

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