WHAT'S THE LAW?
Lack of child support spurs penalties
Question: A friend of mine said if you owe back child support, the government won't let you get a passport. Is this true? Are there other things they can do or keep you from doing? What if you have a reason for not paying? My wife isn't letting me see my kids, and I know when I send money she spends it on anything except the kids.
Answer: From Tara Shibuya, Legal Aid family attorney: If you owe more than $2,500 in back child support, the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) can prevent you from getting a new passport or prevent you from renewing an existing one through CSEA's Passport Denial Program.
Other methods of enforcement CSEA exercises include the following: (1) suspending, not renewing, or canceling your driver's license and other professional licenses if you are more than three months behind in child support payments; (2) collecting your Hawaii state income tax refund if you owe more than $25 in child support; (3) collecting your federal tax refund if you owe more than $500; (4) intercepting certain federal payments owed to you, including federal retirement payments, and relocation and travel reimbursements for federal employees; (5) placing liens on all interests in real property you own or acquire; (6) levying your financial accounts (note: All financial institutions in Hawaii will report to CSEA any requested information regarding accounts maintained by noncustodial parents at its institution); and (7) reporting your arrears as a debt to a credit bureau. Child support is for the benefit of the child(ren), and the courts impose this obligation by ordering the noncustodial parent to reimburse the custodial parent for various child(ren)-related expenditures like housing, food, etc.
There is no correlation between child support and visitation. Family Court will not accept "no visitation" as an excuse to not pay child support; likewise, Family Court will not terminate your child support because you are not receiving visitation. If you need to enforce your visitation rights, you should seek relief from the court.
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or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.