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Child Support Payments

Physical custody of a child carries with it a significant financial effect. Each parent has an obligation to support his/her minor children. A parent having primary physical custody is presumed under the law to have satisfied that obligation by providing the necessities of life: food, clothing and a home. The non-custodial parent (that which the child does not live) is required to provide financial assistance by paying the custodial parent child support.

Child support is defined as a “payment pursuant to a court order by agreement for the care and maintenance of any non-emancipated child under 21 years”.

In a situation where the court has issued an order of child support, a “withholding order” must be made. A withholding order can include an order requiring the employer of the person obligated to pay child support (the “obligor”) to withhold the ordered amount from the paycheck of the obligor and to pay that amount directly to the bureau of support. The employer is then also required to notify the bureau of support of any benefit the obligor is to receive (including worker’s compensation, severance pay, sick leave, bonuses, profit sharing, etc.) and any lump-sum payment of any kind that is $500 or more. If the employer fails to comply with the withholding order, the employer is liable for any support payment not made.

In addition to child support orders, the court requires that one or both parents provide for the health care needs of the child. Either or both parents may be required to pay any amounts not covered by insurance.

Initially, if a person fails to make his/her child support payments as ordered, that person can be found in contempt of court. If found in contempt, the obligor may be ordered to pay the costs of the contempt hearing, including attorney fees and can be ordered to jail under certain circumstances. In the event the obligor continually fails to pay child support (or spousal support), he/she can be charged criminally with potential penalties of up to 18 months in prison.

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (DDPA), enacted in 1998, establishes felony violations for traveling in interstate or foreign commerce to evade a child support obligation or for failing to pay a child support obligation which has remained unpaid for a period longer than two years.

In order to convict a defendant accused of violating the Dead Beat Parents Punishment Act, the courts must prove that the defendant had the ability to pay and willfully failed to pay a known and past due child support obligation.

If you are seeking child support or have past-due support you are entitled to, you should contact an attorney to resolve this matter for you. An attorney skilled in child support issues can increase your chances of recovering child support payments to which you are entitled.