The State of Franklin1 was a territory carved out of eastern Tennessee 236 years ago. Its founders intended it to be the nation’s 14th state. Do we need to point out it does not now exist? Some Dads seem to think they can somehow disappear into non-existent states today, to escape child support payments. The harsh reality? The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 is not to be trifled with.
What is the CSRA?
Before 1992, states had a patchwork of laws attempting to prevent parents from ignoring their child support responsibilities. Some were more effective than others. With the creation of the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 (CSRA), all those state laws took a welcome backseat to a single federal law. CSRA put some teeth into child support payment processing.
Dads (and, yes, many Moms) who hoofed it to jump from one state to another to avoid paying child support were now guilty of a federal crime:
The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 (CSRA) was enacted by Congress on October 25, 1992 making it a Federal crime to willfully fail to pay support for a child living in another State.
Venue and Custody
Some deadbeat parents tried to pit one parent against the other, challenging the venue (the locale where the case against the non-custodial parent could be held) for the case. Should the non-custodial parent (NCP) be tried where the child lives? Where the NCP lives? Where the NCP had lived?
CSRA swept all the fog away. Cases are nearly always held where the NCP lives. Go ahead, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said, try to run. We (more formally, the Office of Child Support Enforcement) will find you, we will prosecute you, and you will pay your debt to your ex-spouse in support of your children.
Say a deadbeat Mom leaves Georgia and hi-tails it to Virginia, leaving behind a custodial father and three children. Month after month she avoids sending any money back to the father. She has no interest in maintaining a relationship with her children. The struggling father notifies authorities in Georgia, provides information about her whereabouts in Virginia, and sits back.
Virginia authorities take the deadbeat Mom to court in Virginia. She has no room to complain about being “inconvenienced” or outside a jurisdiction. She faces misdemeanor charges for violating CSRA.
Since everyone in the United States accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty, the United States under CSRA has to prove the defendant:
- Having the ability to pay,
- Did willfully fail to pay,
- A known past due (child) support obligation,
- Which has remained unpaid for longer than one year
OR is an amount greater than $5,000,
- For a child who resides in another state.
Any prosecutor will begin at Step 1 and prosecute step by step, demonstrating that the unpaying NCP meets all the requirements.
You Messed with the Wrong Law
CSRA, being a federal law, has some formidable firepower (in every sense) behind it. Instead of a local constable, sheriff or police officer, a case involving the Act is investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Though the penalties for deadbeat parents under CSRA are misdemeanor penalities, the law did pave the way for an even tougher law.
The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 (DDPA) took the CSRA’s teeth and sharpened them into fangs. Without CSRA to bring focus to the issue, DDPA would never have enshrined into law the harsh punishment of actual jail time.
Are You on The Most Wanted List?
The DDPA provides for felony punishment for a parent who moves to another state, or country, for purposes of evading child support payments if the debt has remained unpaid for over a year or is greater than $5,000.
The legal consequences of a finding of guilt can be up to two years in prison, additional fines, and an order to make restitution. Oh, and you could find yourself on the Most Wanted List of the Office of the Inspector General. And, trust us, they are not interested in showing your best side in the picture.
The significance of the CSRA is that it paved the way for the DDPA. Now deadbeat parents — Moms and Dads — have not one but two federal laws stacked against them. Our professional advice: treat your children right. You helped bring them into the world, so pay for them to stay here. Pay what they deserve. Comply with the courts.
We’re Child Support Lawyers for Men
Get clear answers to clouded questions when you reach out to The Firm For Men with an online contact or by telephoning our office at 757-383-9184. We can help sort out child support, child custody, parenting time schedules, and a whole lot more. We are experienced, trusted attorneys practicing family law exclusively for Virginia’s men.