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Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Friday, June 30, 2017

Behind on Child Support Payments? Your Passport Could Be At Risk

While you may care a great deal about your children and want the best for them, sometimes, child support payments can become too onerous to pay. Whether this is because of health reasons, job changes or other mounting debt, the fact is, getting behind on child support payments can significantly impact your life, including your ability to travel. If your child support obligations are more than you can handle right now, consider talking with a divorce modifications lawyer to see what your options are.

Is Your Passport In Jeopardy?

Missing one child support payment is likely not enough to get your passport revoked or keep you from obtaining one. However, once you become $2,500 behind in payments, the Department of Health and Human Services will alert the U.S. Department of State, the branch of the federal government that issues passports.

What if I already have a passport? Well, you’re not out of the woods. According to federal law, if you might otherwise be refused a passport, you may have your passport revoked.  This means that if you already have a passport, but are behind in child payments over $2,500, you could have your existing passport revoked.

What if I don’t travel internationally? Not all of us have the luxury of international travel. However, passports are now becoming more helpful in getting from state to state, at least via air, due to the new “REAL ID” drivers’ license requirements. If you live in a state that is not compliant with the TSA regulations by January 22, 2018, you may be grounded.

Your Options Following Denial or Revocation

If your passport application has been denied, or your current passport revoked due to non-payment of child support, you do have options. These options include:

  • Filing a motion to reduce child support. If your current arrangement is financially untenable, you may be able to reduce the amount or arrange for a long-term payment plan to pay the arrears. Additionally, you may be able to get the arrears reduced or cleared.

  • Request a 3-Year Support Review. By law, any state receiving federal funds must provide for a 3-year child support review, if requested by either parent. If your income has decreased substantially, you may be eligible for a decrease in this manner.

  • Talk with your ex. In some cases, this may be a viable option, where the relationship is not completely destroyed and both parties can communicate effectively. If you can come up with an agreement, be sure to get it in writing and obtain court approval.

    File a grievance. In some cases, you may actually be paying child support on time, by your ex may not be recording it, leading to the denial or revocation of your passport. If this is the case, filing a grievance to have the mistake cleared may be your best option.

If you are having issues paying your child support obligations and are at risk of losing your ability to travel, contact our experienced marital attorneys. Call us today for a consultation at 516-228-9181.


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