How parents can pursue child support across state lines

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act is a 1998 federal law designed to assist parents in collecting child support when the other parent has left the state in order to avoid complying with the court order. A parent in California could file in any federal court to pursue the other parent as long as some other conditions are also in place.

In order to use the DPPA in a child support case, the other parent must have gone more than a year without making child support payments and must owe more than $5,000 or must have gone more than two years and owe more than $10,000. The parent might be required to pay back the child support owed.

Incarceration might also be a penalty. For the first offense, a delinquent parent might spend up to six months’ imprisonment. A second offense may lead to up to two years of imprisonment.

A parent who is concerned about child support, child custody or other aspects of divorce might want to talk to an attorney. The attorney might be able to advise the parent about how custody negotiations or litigation may proceed. For example, if one parent is the main caregiver and the other works long hours, a judge may be more inclined to give primary custody to the main caregiver. However, parents might also want to negotiate custody rather than going before a judge. This may allow them to reach a solution that suits them and their children better. A formula is used to calculate child support obligations, and if one parent has had a change in circumstances and is unable to pay, they can apply for a modification in support. A parent who is struggling to collect child support when it is not a situation that the DPPA would be applicable may contact the local child support enforcement office for assistance.


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