Consequences of Non-Payment of Child Support: Passport Denial

Stack of passports, US passports on the top
Stack of passports, US passports on the top

One of the little known consequences of failure to pay child support is the Passport Denial Program. The Passport Denial Program is a federal program designed to help state Departments of Revenue enforce child support obligations and as an added deterrent to delinquency.

Under the program, if a non-custodial parent required to pay child support is delinquent in an amount $2,500 or greater, the State Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement division (DORCSE) may request that person’s passport be flagged. Once flagged, the passport may be rejected, revoked or an application denied, potentially leaving the passport holder stranded outside of the country.

There is a way to get a “limited validity” passport, but only as a means to allow the passport holder to return to the United States so he or she can pay the arrearages.

Moreover, the hold is not automatically removed once the arrearages fall below the $2,500 threshold.

To get the flag removed, even if the delinquent party pays arrearages IN FULL, he or she must go through a process which begins with the state’s Department of Revenue, then to the federal Department of State, which then, ultimately, must send notice to the Passport Agency office to remove the hold.

Typically, the Passport Agency holds any application for a passport by a noncustodial parent who owes more than $2,500 in child support for 90 days. If the DORSCE releases the case before the end of the 90 days, a passport is mailed to the applicant. However, if the process exceeds 90 days, the noncustodial parent must reapply for a passport.

The good news is that the state is required to give the passport holder or applicant notice of the arrearages and potential consequences, and an opportunity to contest the accuracy of the determination, prior to flagging the passport. It is important, if you receive such notice, to immediately contact an attorney knowledgeable in child support matters as any delay in addressing the issue could result in having your passport revoked, denied or rejected.

Sandy Ambrose is an experience family lawyer who has worked with clients for more than 30 years to resolve child support and custody disputes. Please call our office todayto schedule an appointment to discuss the particulars of your case.