Can Child Support Suspend Passports?

By Mary Jane Freeman

Following a divorce or failed relationship that produced a child, support is often ordered by the court. The noncustodial parent is required to contribute to the financial support for the child by making payments to the parent with custody. The United States Child Support Enforcement Program is a partnership between the federal, state, local and tribal governments that was created to make it easier for the difference government bodies to enforce child support payments. CSE uses several methods to force delinquent parents to make payments, including revoking your passport.

Support Enforcement

Once a child support award is established, often by divorce decree or other court action, the custodial parent may apply to the Child Support Enforcement Program and receive help with its collection. Operated at the state level, CSE monitors and enforces child support orders. When a noncustodial parent's payments become past due, CSE employs several routine collection methods, including the seizure of state and federal income tax refunds, seizure of bank accounts and suspension of drivers, professional and occupational licenses. However, if the arrearage becomes greater than $2,500, CSE will pursue harsher penalties such as revocation of the delinquent parent's passport.

Suspension of Passport

Once a noncustodial parent owes more than $2,500 in past due child support, the state CSE refers his case to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). OCSE then submits the case to the U.S. Department of State where he is enrolled in the Passport Denial Program. When you're enrolled in this program, the State Department will restrict or revoke your current passport and instruct Passport Services to deny any new or renewal applications you may submit. Both CSE and Passport Services will notify you once your case has been referred to the Passport Denial Program.

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How to Reinstate Passport

Once your passport privileges have been taken away for non-payment of child support, the only thing left to do is pay up. You must either pay the past due balance in full or enter into an approved payment arrangement. Paying just enough to bring your balance below $2,500 will not suffice. When your obligation is satisfied, CSE will notify the Passport Denial Program and have your name removed from their child support arrearage list. You will then be permitted to travel on your current passport or apply for a new one. If you submitted a new or renewal application within 90 days of being enrolled in the Passport Denial Program, Passport Services will resume processing your application. However, if your privileges are restored after the 90-day window, you will need to submit a new application.

Additional Considerations

Although CSE is responsible for notifying the Passport Denial Program when your child support arrears have been cleared, this does not always happen. Therefore, you must contact them directly if you discover your passport remains restricted or subsequent new or renewal applications are denied. Passport Services is unable to make these changes for you.

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Passport Held Due to Nonpayment of Child Support



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Federal Guidelines on the Collection of Child Support Arrears

In 1975 Congress passed the Child Support Enforcement and Paternity Establishment Program, or CSE, in response to increasing enrollment in federal welfare programs of children of separated parents. The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was established by the CSE to provide assistance to state and local law enforcement and social services agencies in creating and operating their child support enforcement programs. If administrative and local enforcement efforts are insufficient in aiding the collection of child support, the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, or DPPA, provides for federal criminal prosecution of the most severely delinquent child support violators.

Kansas Laws on Non-Payment of Child Support

Kansas monitors child support by requiring parents to make their payments through the Kansas Payment Center. Language to this effect must be included in every new or modified child support order. Under both state and federal law, child support payments are made through income withholding orders, or IWOs. IWOs obligate a parent's employer to deduct child support from his wages or salary and forward it to the state. If a parent is unemployed or self-employed, however, IWOs may not work and a parent can fall behind with payments.

Can I Travel to Europe if I Owe Child Support?

Adults are usually free to travel wherever they like – unless they want to leave the country and they happen to be behind in their child support obligations. You need a passport to travel abroad, and if your child support arrears reach a certain point, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement will step in to make sure Passport Services denies your application. Your only option is pay what you owe, and to do so well in advance of your trip because the process of lifting the denial can take some time.

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