Is Failure to Pay Child Support a Federal Crime?

When a marriage comes to a screeching halt, divorce proceedings tend to be messy, but the battle over child custody can be outright chaotic by comparison. If a judge orders you to pay child support, you will be legally obligated to make monthly payments. Failure to pay court-ordered child support can lead to prosecution on the state or federal level, depending on the circumstances of the violation.

In this article, a federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa will explain how you could be charged with a federal crime for refusing to pay child support. Remember, individuals that fail to pay child support can be held in contempt of court for violating a court order for child support, leading to jail time. Don’t let this happen to you. You deserve a second chance to provide the financial support your child needs, but you can’t do anything when you’re locked up. 

A Brief Overview of Child Support

The basic premise of child support is based on the notion that a child should have access to the same financial benefits whether their parents are married or divorced. Child support helps pay for a wide range of expenses, including food, clothing, medication, activities, and more. It can also be allocated towards a rent or mortgage. There are very few regulations dictating how child support payments are utilized, but reason suggests that the parent who was selected for primary custody will use these funds to improve the child’s quality of life. Establishing child support duties can occur through direct negotiations or a court order. Calculating the amount of money that must be paid for child support depends on each parent’s income, the number of children involved, and the financial needs of each child covered. Special circumstances can also affect the amount you are forced to pay.

Circumstances for Federal Prosecution

Any individual who intentionally withholds court-ordered child support payments destined for a child who lives in another state can be federally prosecuted. Additionally, those who have delinquent child support payments of a year or longer and due payments exceeding $5,000 in value can be charged with a federal crime. It is considered a misdemeanor crime and carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison. You will also be expected to pay fines. A person who fails to pay child support for two years or has an unpaid balance of $10,000 or more can be charged with a felony. Penalties include up to two years in prison and additional fines. Lastly, attempting to flee across state lines or leave the country to avoid paying child support is a federal crime.

For a free consultation with a federal criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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