Sep 17, 2007

Unpaid Child Support Means No Passport

PassportBehind on child support? Don't expect to leave the country until you've paid up. New passport rules mean good news for the kids who are owed the approximately $96 billion in court-ordered child support that goes unpaid every year in the United States. The Passport Denial Program keeps parents who are behind on child support grounded in the U.S. by denying them new or renewal passports.

As Kevin Freking reports in the Seattle Times, two changes in passport rules are increasing collections of unpaid child support. First, the threshold for collection actions went down from $5,000 to $2,500, which increased the number of cases submitted to the program by 400,000. But more significant were the rule changes that require air travelers to and from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and South America to have passports.

By a conservative estimate, the Passport Denial Program has collected at least $22.5 million so far this year. It took all of 2006 to collect that much under the old passport requirements. Cool, right? Still, it doesn't take a math whiz to see that $22.5 million is not much when nearly $100 billion is outstanding. And in addition to the hardship they cause their children, deadbeat parents cost the federal and state governments $1 for every $4.50 collected.

Child support is not a joke--and unpaid child support is a huge problem. If you owe support and you really can't pay it because you've lost your job or suffered an illness, go to court right away and get the support amount reduced. Until you do, it will continue to accrue. Otherwise, pay up! Your kids need you. Need more info? Check your state's child support enforcement office