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Willfully failing to pay child support is illegal

11137381_S.jpgAfter child support orders have been issued during Illinois divorce proceedings, some parents fail to comply with them. While some may become delinquent because of financial problems, others willfully attempt to avoid paying their court-ordered child support. It is illegal under federal law for parents to intentionally avoid making their child support payments.

The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act is a federal law that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1998. The act makes it illegal for parents to move to other states simply to avoid meeting their child support obligations. Parents can be charged under the act when they move to other states and have failed to make child support payments for more than a year and have balances of more than $5,000.

Parents who are convicted of the offense for the first time may be imprisoned for up to six months. Those who are convicted of the offense for the second time may be imprisoned for up to two years. In addition, in both instances violators can be ordered to pay the balances that they owe. Cases under the act may be heard in federal court in the states where the children live who have not received support. They may also be heard in federal court in the states where the deadbeat parents live, or in any other federal court regardless of its location.

The penalties for failing to pay child support are severe, even if there is no violation of this law. People who are having difficulty making their payments because of changed financial circumstances might want to talk to family law attorneys who can file motions to modify the support amounts to reflect their clients' current financial situations. However, even if one is granted, a modification will have no effect on any past due amounts.

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