Child Support Fraud: Can It Send You To Prison?
Published July 4th, 2021
Child support is one of the most critical components of a divorce. When a judge performs the necessary calculations to determine the amount that one parent must pay the other, several factors must be considered. One of these is the combined income of both parents.
Child support fraud does occur in some instances if both parents don’t know how it works. Read on to understand what child support is, how it is determined, the consequences of child support fraud, and what one can do to prevent it.
Defining Child Support and Its Importance
When parents divorce, separate, or no longer live together, child support is the money to be provided to the custodial parent – the one who has primary custody of the child – for the child’s benefit. The custodial parent may use the financial support to provide for the child’s health and well-being, shelter, education, and other basic needs.
Child support can have a significant impact on a child’s life as parents transition to co-parenting. The following are just a few of the primary reasons why child support payments are crucial:
Contribute to Your Child’s Upbringing
Financial support can only go so far in preserving a child’s sense of “normalcy.” It is up to the parents to spend those funds responsibly and prioritize their children’s various needs.
Rather than simply maintaining a sense of normalcy, these payments encourage a child’s desire to explore the world and try new things. Taking up an instrument, learning to build computers, or developing an interest in cooking are all examples of worthwhile hobbies for a developing mind to explore. Child support payments assist your child in fulfilling their desire to grow and expand their knowledge, which may result in lifelong interests and even future careers.
Assure They Have Their Basic Needs Met
Even if the custodial parent who receives better medical and dental insurance benefits through their employer will frequently cover these costs for their children, other uninsured medical expenses should be covered in part by child support funds.
Apart from these necessities, child support can help pay for children’s extracurricular activities, camp costs, and more. Additional entertainment-related expenses, such as electronics and toys, may be covered by child support.
Managing the costs associated with all of these activities contributes to the well-being of children following divorce and promotes a sense of normalcy following such a significant change.
Prevent Future Problems
Another reason parents should pay child support is to protect themselves and their families from future legal repercussions. In addition, keeping up with these payments promotes financial stability in each parent’s household, helping parents avoid returning to court over money disputes.
Courts across the country have procedures in place to deal with non-payment of child support by a parent. Wage garnishments, driver’s license suspension, and even jail time are just a few of the possible consequences for a parent who fails to pay child support.
Beyond legal issues, your child may face additional personal consequences if one of their parents fails to pay. As a parent, you want your child to be healthy and successful in all endeavors, and these payments should assist your child in accomplishing this.
Ways to Determine Child Support
Determining child support varies from state to state. However, the majority of states use the income shares of parents to calculate child support. The court will ask both parents to provide financial statements, which should contain monthly income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
Keep in mind that that income is not only what one earns from wages or salaries. Furthermore, the court will also consider a parent’s investments, businesses, and other sources as an income.
There are factors on how the court will determine the exact amount one should provide to support their child, including:
- Basic necessities of a child
- Health insurance
- Daycare expenses
- Both parents’ ability to support (income)
- Child or children’s lifestyle and way of living before the divorce or separation
- Number of children in need of support
- Amount of time each child should spend with each parent
Understanding Child Support Application Fraud
When a parent petitions the court for child support, the court will consider the parents’ financial statements. Those statements will determine the child’s best interests and each parent’s financial ability to provide for the child.
While each state may vary, the court will typically require parents to certify the accuracy of the information provided.
Although most child support application fraud cases involve a non-custodial parent attempting to deceive the court to avoid paying child support, either parent can commit child support application fraud. For instance, one or both parents will provide incomplete or inaccurate information just to sway the court’s decision about whether and how much child support should be ordered.
This attempt to sway the court may occur when the non-custodial parent hides additional income sources (such as wages from an “under the table” job, imputed income, or income from investments) or when the custodial parent exaggerates the child’s expenses or lists expenses that are not what the child actually needs. Moreover, the custodial parent may inflate the child’s expenses to account for personal leisure items.
Child Support Fraud Consequences
Child support arrears are costly for custodial parents and government agencies. Child support enforcement agencies will be compelled to use their own resources to enforce child support orders and will be obligated to use public funds to care for the child.
Therefore, the government’s efforts to collect child support will be quite aggressive and can result in severe consequences, such as wage garnishment and seizure of personal property as mentioned above.
Additionally, if the court determines that child support payments are not being used for the child’s benefit, the court may order an investigation into the expenditures, which may result in support payments being suspended and influencing the court’s decision regarding child custody arrangements and visitation schedules.
The court may also order a retroactive adjustment if the non-custodial parent conceals information about their financial situation in order to avoid paying their fair share of child support or if the non-custodial parent interferes with the timely determination of child support in any other way.
Most importantly, child support fraud is punishable by state and federal law. For instance, since the court receives information under oath, this may support a charge of contempt or perjury.
If convicted, the non-custodial parent may face imprisonment and fines, as well as being ordered to pay child support dating all the way back to the time they first concealed relevant financial information to defraud the system.
Reporting Child Support Fraud
If you have previously received child support through the state’s child support enforcement agency, in which your former spouse pays child support and the funds are then distributed to you, your case file is already in existence. However, if you do not currently have an open case, you may contact the child support enforcement agency for assistance in initiating your case.
Your suspicions of child support fraud will be discussed with a caseworker. If you make your claim in writing, you can ensure that no details become hazy as the case progresses. Furthermore, both you and your former spouse may be required to submit income verification during the caseworker’s review.
Bear in mind that this process can take a long time since caseworkers are likely assisting thousands of families. If you do not wish to proceed in this manner, you may seek assistance from the court. In addition, you may file a motion with the same court that ordered your child support.
Moreover, your motion will be heard by a judge, who will consider all of the evidence before making a decision. If you choose to proceed to court, you should be accompanied by an attorney for guidance.
Consulting with an Attorney with a Child Support Fraud Issue
Suppose you suspect that a non-custodial parent is misrepresenting their financial circumstances to the court to avoid paying their fair child support. In that case, you should consult a child support lawyer. They will assist you in petitioning the court to modify a child support order or enforce a child support order. You should get the contact information of family law offices if you are under investigation for committing child support fraud or are the target of enforcement efforts. Criminal charges or consequences may result from your actions.
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About The Author
As a professional writer at many renowned websites Krizzia Paolyn has covered a wide range of topics in many industries. Her knack for uncovering important truths and conducting thorough research on each topic she writes about has helped thousands of people across the world.