Understanding the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act


Child support is typically one of the most debated issues in a Pasadena divorce if the couple has minor children from their marriage. The purpose of child support is to make sure both parents help to provide financially for their children, but some parents become angry and refuse to pay child support that is owed in an attempt to get back at their ex. In addition to being unethical, this is against the law.

The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 and the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 pose stiff penalties for parents who fail to fulfill their child support obligations. Parents may be charged with a misdemeanor if they are behind in payments for one year or owe more the $5,000. They may be charged with a felony if they are behind in payments for two years or owe more than $10,000. Parents who move to another state to try to avoid child support obligations can be charged with a felony if they are one year behind in payments or owe more than $5,000.

To be prosecuted under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, a parent must be financially able to make the required child support payments and intentionally refusing to meet the obligation. A parent who falls behind on child support due to illness, job loss, or a significant change in circumstances can request to have payment amounts reevaluated.

Intent can be a key factor for courts in deciding whether or not a a parent will be prosecuted under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act. Felony convictions are reserved for punishing the most serious violators of child support laws. Moving from state to state to avoid payment, using a false Social Security number on work documents, and/or failing to respond to initial attempts to resolve the matter can all be seen as signs a parent is willfully refusing to pay.

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act is often referred to as the "Deadbeat Dad" law, but it should be noted that gender is not a requirement for being placed on the list. A woman who has failed to make court ordered child support payments faces the same penalties.

If you are not receiving the child support you are owed, an experienced Pasadena family lawyer can help you determine the best way to get the money you need to provide for your children.