One of the harshest enforcement actions the Department of Child Support Services is mandated to take against delinquent child support obligors is to report the obligor to the federal government if they owe more than $2,500 in payments. If this happens, the federal government will not issue a passport to the obligor until the local child support agencies report that the delinquency has been satisfied. Local agencies will tell the obligor that they have zero discretion.
Because the law is very clear on this subject, the obligor will probably not get much help from the courts and will need to go through a potentially lengthy process to obtain a passport.
Obtaining a Passport in the Midst of a Child Support Case
A database list kept by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) keeps reports on who owes child support in amounts greater than $2,500. This information is sent to the U.S. Passport Agency as part of the “Passport Denial” program, which was authorized in 1997 as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). If your passport is denied by the U.S. Passport Agency, understand that they have no authority to do anything until your name is taken off of the DHHS’ list. In the case that you owe child support in more than one U.S. state, you will have to negotiate payments or other satisfactory arrangements before your name is cleared for a passport.
In order to obtain a passport in this situation, the following must happen:
- You must contact the state agency that you owe child support to.
- You must make satisfactory arrangements for payment before you apply for a U.S. Passport.
- The State Child Support Enforcement Agency must report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that satisfactory arrangements for payments have been made.
- The DHHS must remove your name from their list.
- The DHHS must provide the U.S. Department of State with an updated list.
- Passport services must be given a list of outstanding child support debts.
- Passport services must verify that your name has been removed from the list.
Once all of these steps have been completed, then passport services can process your application. Even if your debt drops below $2,500, many states require that the debt be paid in full and that your debt amount be cleared to zero before you are able to obtain a passport.
Get Insight from a Southern California Family Law Attorney
Although the situation is complicated and time-consuming, our lawyers can review your case and provide much-needed insight. With offices in Temecula, Riverside, and Anaheim, our firm has a good relationship with local agencies and can help you negotiate your circumstances. We have more than a decade of experience handling child support, family law and divorce cases.
Even if the local agency and court has said no to you, contact our firm for a free consultation!