When we say there are serious consequences for not making child support payments, we are not kidding. The primary risk, of course, is to the child's well-being: Remember that one or two missed payments can put a single parent below the poverty line; in Illinois, two-thirds of children in poor families live with just one parent.
A noncustodial parent also risks his or her freedom. Failing to follow a court-ordered payment plan can result in arrest and jail time.
There is another risk that seldom makes headlines but that rap star DMX has learned the hard way. The federal government can revoke a U.S. citizen's passport if he or she owes $2,500 or more in back child support.
DMX recently filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (Although Chapter 11 is most often used by businesses, individuals can use it in personal bankruptcy petitions as well.) Court documents show about $1.24 million in back child support among his debts.
It is important to note right away that bankruptcy will not wipe out that debt. Child support cannot be discharged in any kind of bankruptcy.
According to a statement from a representative, though, DMX is looking to get his financial affairs in order and to work with the court so that he can get his passport back. Because of his child support debt, the federal government has revoked his passport. Without a passport, however, the representative says, the singer is unable to tour abroad, where he would earn enough money to pay off the child support or his unsecured debt.
Policymakers struggle with the issue of enforcing child support agreements. We aren't sure about the particulars of DMX's situation, but there are situations where sending a non-paying parent to jail or revoking a passport will only make it harder for him or her to make any payments.
We encourage parents who are having trouble paying or collecting child support to consider modifying their agreement. If you or a loved one needs help with a support or even a custody modification, give an experienced family law attorney a call.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "Rapper DMX Files for Bankruptcy," Jacqueline Palank, July 30, 2013