Passport Suspension & Child Support: Legal Obligations in PA

Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers

Child Support Arrears & Passport Suspension

It might come as a surprise to many to learn that if you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport.  However, those who care about the best interests of a child and getting their clients the justice they deserve understand the importance of this rule. 

Child Support Arrears Explained

Failure to pay child support results in what is known as arrears. It is the amount of past due, unpaid, but owed child support that continues to increase until the amount gets paid in full. 

According to the Pennsylvania Child Support Agency, “The federal Passport Denial Program provides for the denial or cancellation of United States passports for failure to pay child support. A passport may be denied or revoked when combined arrears in all cases exceed $2,500. An individual that becomes eligible for Passport Denial remains eligible until the overdue support balance is reduced to zero.”

Passport Suspensions Due to Owed Child Support

Although passport suspensions and revocations can occur, in general, a valid passport remains valid. However, passports expire, so when you are trying to renew your passport or make an initial application, this is where you are most likely to experience a denial. Additionally, you could have significant consequences if you are traveling outside of the country and your passport is lost or stolen, as that requires you to apply for a new one. If you owe more than $2,500 in back child support, you could be very unpleasantly surprised.

How to Get Your Passport Released

The short answer, pay the child support you owe. In general, unpaid child support must be paid for the applicant’s name to get removed from the denial list. Only then will he be able to apply for a passport. 

An experienced child support attorney helps you understand your rights in this area. Whether you need help communicating with Pennsylvania’s Child Support Program or are looking to file for a modification of your child support order, we can help. Also, in certain limited cases, a Petition can be filed to permit the suspension released before arrears are paid in full. While rare, it has been done.

Modifying Your Child Support Order

If your circumstances change and you cannot afford the amount of child support ordered, you have the option to petition the court to lower the amount. This is not like a bankruptcy proceeding where back debts can be erased; instead, this modification is going forward. A modification is not an automatic event, and a petition needs to be filed with the Court and evidence presented to explain the reasoning for the modification. Each case is highly fact-specific, and the child support order revolves around the income of the parents. 

Contact the Child Support Lawyers at Schwartz Family Law

When your US Passport and child support payments are in jeopardy, there are many variables and considerations. At Schwartz Family Law, put our decades of combined experience to work for you. Having the best advocate who explains your rights and helps you strategize for the best results, as well as someone who truly cares about you and your family, is extremely important.

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