Child Support Enforcement
Parents who fail to pay court-ordered child support for the care of their children put an unnecessary strain on the custodial parent and the children, as well as on agencies that are tasked with enforcing these matters. Although most child support cases fall under State jurisdiction, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) plays an important role in aggressively pursuing parents who fail to pay court-ordered child support.
OIG may intervene in child support cases when:
- the noncustodial parent willfully fails to pay child support for more than 1 year and the State where the child lives is different from the State where the noncustodial parent lives,
- the amount the noncustodial parent owes is more than $5,000 and the State where the child lives is different from the State where the noncustodial parent lives, or
- the noncustodial parent travels to another State or country to avoid paying child support.
Punishment for a first offense for failure to pay child support is a fine, up to 6 months in prison, or both. In the case of a second or subsequent offense or a case when the obligation has been unpaid for longer than 2 years or is more than $10,000, the punishment increases to a fine of up to $250,000, 2 years in prison, or both. Noncustodial parents convicted of these offenses must also pay restitution and/or settlements of the child support amount owed.
"Project Save Our Children" is a multiagency law enforcement initiative that investigates and prosecutes the most egregious child support cases. Its members include investigative analysts from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), OIG Special Agents, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorneys' offices, and the Department of Justice, along with child support agencies across the United States. These entities identify, investigate, and prosecute noncustodial parents who knowingly fail to pay support obligations and meet the criteria for Federal prosecution under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act.
If you have a question or problem about a child support enforcement case, contact your State's child support enforcement office. (This list is also available in Spanish.) These offices handle the day-to-day operations of child support collections.
You can report deadbeats using OIG's "Report A Fugitive" form.
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FY 2014 Work Plan
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Significant OIG activities in 6-month increments.