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Child Support Application Fraud

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What Is Child Support Application Fraud?

In most states, child support payments are calculated based on each parent’s income and the child’s financial needs. Child support fraud occurs when a parent provides false information to the court about his or her finances—leading to either an inappropriately high or low payment amount.

What Are Some Examples of Fraud in a Child Support Claim?

Child support fraud comes in many forms. They include when a parent:

  • Hides a job or other sources of income from the court,
  • Overstates or inflates child-related expenses,
  • Exaggerates a child’s financial needs, or
  • Does not meet a child’s basic needs and uses child support for other purposes.

Both custodial and non-custodial parents can engage in child support fraud. For example, a custodial parent may hide income in an attempt to get increased support payments. On the other hand, a non-custodial parent may work “under the table” to avoid payroll deductions for child support. Both of these acts are illegal.

However, more attention is given to non-custodial parents who try to avoid paying child support. Non-payment of child support unduly burdens custodial parents and government agencies (who may have to use resources to enforce the child support order and provide public benefits to offset the missing child support payments). For this reason, both state and federal governments aggressively pursue parents with large, unpaid child support obligations.

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How Do I Report Child Support Fraud?

If you believe someone is engaging in child support fraud, you should contact your state’s child support enforcement agency. (The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement publishes an online directory of these enforcement agencies.) Additionally, you should contact your family law attorney—who can help you file an enforcement action or a petition to modify in civil court.

What Are the Penalties for Fraud?

If the court finds that your child support was inaccurately calculated, you may be eligible for retroactive adjustment of your award (either an increase or a decrease in payments). Courts can also order wage garnishment and seize tax refunds or personal property to recover unpaid child support.

However, fraud can also result in state or federal criminal charges. States, along with the federal Office of the Inspector General, aggressively prosecute parents who intentionally defraud the child support system. If you are found guilty of child support fraud or contempt of court, you may be ordered to pay fines or sent to jail.

Can a Lawyer Help Resolve my Child Support Fraud Issues?

If you believe your child support claim has been affected by fraud, contact a family law attorney. A lawyer can help you file an enforcement claim and can direct you to the correct state and federal agencies. On the other hand, if you have been charged with child support fraud, it is vital that you contact a criminal defense lawyer. Without aggressive representation, you may face significant financial penalties and jail time.

Photo of page author Leigh Ebrom

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-16-2017 09:20 PM PST

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