Child support refers to court-ordered payments from one parent to another. These payments are generally made monthly, and are made from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Child support payments are intended to provide financial assistance to the custodial parent, as each parent has a duty to provide their child.
Each state maintains its own laws regarding child support payments, as well as its own calculator to determine how much a person should pay per child each month. These laws govern the amount of support based on custody, as well as each parent’s income and finances. Child support payments may be ordered when the parents have divorced or legally separated, or are otherwise no longer living together. It is important to note that child support is not necessarily automatic; in some states, the parent will need to petition the court for child support.
When the court is petitioned, they will consider the financial statements provided by each of the child’s parents. The court is dependent upon those statements when determining what is in the child’s best interest, as well as each parent’s ability to financially provide for their child. As previously mentioned, although each state may vary, the court generally requires some type of certification from the parents which serves to assert the accuracy of the information they have provided.
Child support application fraud can be committed by either parent; however, most instances involve the non-custodial parent attempting to deceive the court in order to avoid paying child support. An example of child support application fraud would be when one or both parents provide incomplete or inaccurate information with the intent to influence the court’s decision regarding whether child support should be ordered, and in what amount.
The non-custodial parent may accomplish this by hiding additional income sources, such as income from investments. Alternatively the custodial parent may overstate the child’s expenses, or include expenses that are not associated with the child’s needs. An example of fake child support papers would be when the custodial parent inflates the child’s expenses in order to cover personal leisure items that are not associated with the child or their wellbeing in any way.
What Happens If You Lie Hiding Your Income To Avoid Child Support? What are the Consequences for Child Support Fraud?
Non-payment of child support, which includes child support fraud, is taken seriously. Child support enforcement agencies exist at the state and local levels, and maintain resources to enforce child support orders. They may also draw from public funds in order to provide for the child. Because of this, government child support recovery efforts are considerably aggressive, and can result in significant consequences for the responsible party. This can include wage garnishment, as well as seizure of personal property.
Additionally, if the court finds evidence that the child support payments are being used for anything other than the benefit of the child, they may order an investigation into the custodial parent’s expenditures. This investigation may interrupt the flow of support payments, and affect the court’s decision regarding custody rights and visitation schedules.
Another potential consequence would be if the court orders a retroactive adjustment. This may be ordered if the noncustodial parent hides information regarding their financial situation in order to avoid paying their fair support. An example of this would be getting paid under the table to avoid child support payments. Another example would be not reporting income increase to child support. The court may also order a retroactive adjustment if the noncustodial parent otherwise disrupted the timely determination of child support.
It is important to note that child support fraud can also result in state and federal criminal charges. Because the information provided to the court is made under oath, fraud may constitute a charge for contempt of court, or perjury. When receiving a referral from either state or local agencies, the Office of the Inspector General may investigate child support cases in which the noncustodial parent intentionally fails to make child support payments.
If found guilty and convicted of child support application fraud or nonpayment, the at-fault parent may face imprisonment and fines. Additionally, they may be ordered to pay child support going all the way back to when they first hid relevant information regarding their financial circumstances in order to commit fraud.
How Do I Report Child Support Fraud?
The steps to report someone not paying child support will depend on the state. Generally speaking, the process begins with contacting the state or local child support enforcement agency. The court may take additional steps to enforce the child support order.
Some of the ways in which a court might demand payment include, but may not be limited to:
- Wage garnishment, in which an employer is required to withhold a certain amount from the non paying parent’s paycheck. This money is then forwarded to the receiving parent;
- Garnishment of the delinquent parent’s tax refund;
- Placing a lien on the non paying parent’s property;
- Revoking the delinquent parent’s driver’s and/or professional license; and/or
- Denying or revoking a United States Passport, if the parent owes more than $2,500.
Additionally, the parent being injured as a result of the other parent’s child support fraud should contact the family court which is handling their case. They should petition for a child support order modification, in order to modify any existing child support order to update information about the non paying parent’s financial circumstances.
Modifying a child support order generally requires proof that the parent has experienced a change in circumstances which affects their financial circumstances as well. This change in circumstances must be so great that the parent’s ability to pay, or the needs of the child, has been affected. Some common examples of applicable change in circumstances include, but may not be limited to:
- An employment change for either parent, such as a new job, that either increases or decreases their income;
- Changes regarding the custody arrangement and/or visitation schedule;
- Temporary economic hardship, such as losing a job;
- The child experiences a medical emergency; and/or
- There has been a significant change in the other needs of the child, such as increased private school tuition leading to additional educational expenses.
Although the court will consider a change in circumstances and how those changes affect the child support order, the custodial parent is not allowed to make the unilateral decision to take on a large expense for the child and then force the other parent to help pay for it. An example of this would be the decision to send the child to private school instead of public school. Family courts will consider each situation on a case-by-case basis, and determine what share (if any) of a new expense each parent will be responsible for.
Should I Consult with an Attorney If I Have an Issue with Child Support Fraud?
If you have an issue with child support fraud, either as the paying or the non paying parent, you should consult with an experienced and local child support lawyer. State laws can vary widely in terms of how child support amounts are determined, as well as how child support application fraud is addressed. Working with an area attorney will ensure you receive the most relevant legal advice.
Additionally, if you are attempting to report your child’s other parent for fraud, an attorney can help you collect evidence to support your claim and file your report. If you are being accused of child support fraud, your attorney can help you determine whether there are any legal defenses available to you, based on the circumstances of your case. Either way, a child support lawyer will be able to represent you in court, while protecting your legal rights.