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When are federal child support enforcement laws imposed?

Child support delinquency is considered a serious offense. Most child support matters fall under Illinois state laws. However, some rare cases fall under the jurisdiction of federal child support enforcement laws. Title IV Part-D of the Social Security Act requires that agencies operating under it aid state agencies, custodial parents and others in enforcing a child support order.

The current federal law considers it illegal for a non-custodial parent to willfully default on child support payments. Some clearly defined sets of circumstances have been established, under which a person who does not pay child support can face federal prosecution. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, criminal charges for child support delinquency ranges from misdemeanors to felonies.

A non-custodial parent can face misdemeanor charges for failing to comply with child support orders for a child living in another state. If a non-custodial parent fails to pay child support for more than one year or if the amount due exceeds $5,000, the parent faces misdemeanor charges. However, if a non-custodial parent willfully fails to pay child support for more than two years or if the amount due exceeds $10,000, the parent faces felony charges. In addition to huge fines, penalties include up to six months in prison for misdemeanors and up to two years in prison for felonies.

If the supporting parent disappears, that is considered another significant concern that federal laws address. It is illegal for non-custodial parents with child support obligations to cross state lines or leave the country to avoid paying child support when that outstanding amount is in excess of $5,000 or the child support has not been paid for more than one year. Penalties include fines and up to two years in prison.

Source:, "Citizen's Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Support Enforcement," Accessed on Feb. 27, 2015

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