U.S. Passport Denials for Failure to Pay Child Support
Travel is deeply woven in the fabric of our society, whether it’s for work, pleasure, to visit family abroad, for school, humanitarian purposes or volunteerism. If you are a noncustodial parent who pays child support in Florida, or anywhere else in the United States, and you go to apply for a U.S. passport so you can travel overseas, you may be in for a surprise: if you owe more than a certain amount of child support, you can be denied a U.S. passport.
“I may not be allowed to leave the country if I am behind on child support?” Yes, it is possible. This is just another enforcement tool that pushes noncustodial parents to pay child support. Other methods include driver license suspensions, the suspension of business and professional licenses, tax liens, tax refund intercept, and much more.
Sometimes, it's not about the inability to pay. Even wealthy individuals will cease paying child support if their former spouse refuses to let them see their children during their court-ordered parenting time. If this describes you, please understand that you cannot stop paying child support if the other parent is preventing you from seeing your children; child support and child custody are separate issues. If you must travel abroad on business, child support arrears can prevent you from leaving the country.
How Much Will I Owe?
As of this writing, if a parent owes $2,500 or more in back child support, he or she is not eligible for a U.S. passport. If you owe more than $2,500 in child support, you will need to pay your child support arrears to the applicable Florida child support enforcement agency before you submit your application for a U.S. passport.
“What if I already applied for a U.S. passport but I definitely owe more than $2,500?” In that case, you will need to make arrangements to pay your child support arrears with the child support agency handling your case.
Once you make acceptable payment arrangements, the child support agency will report that to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the HHS will remove your name from the list of delinquent parents that it reports to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Bureau will confirm that the HHS has removed your name, and it will process your passport application normally.