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Federal criminal prosecution

The child support office can refer a parent to the U.S. Attorney's Office for federal criminal prosecution for intentionally not paying support.

The U.S. attorney gives priority to cases where the parent who owes child support:

  • Moves from state to state to avoid payment
  • Owes at least $5,000
  • Fails to pay support after being found in contempt of court
  • Fails to make support payments in connection with another federal offense
  • Fails to pay support on a case including at least one minor child.

The child support office may consider this if all of the following are true:

  • A court-ordered child support obligation exists.
  • The parent who owes support:
    • Knew of the support obligation
    • Had the ability to pay the support
    • Willfully failed to pay the support
    • Crossed state lines to avoid paying the support
    • Has not made any payments within the last year or has accrued arrears of at least $5,000.
  • The child support office has exhausted all reasonable legal remedies, such as contempt.


The child support office will not refer a parent if any of the following is true:

  • The case does not meet the criteria
  • Court order prohibits federal criminal prosecution
  • The parent filed bankruptcy and remains protected.


  • 18 United States Code, section 228
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