CHILD SUPPORT SANCTIONS IN WASHINGTON DC

Family Court

Undisputed Legal | District of Columbia Process Service 

State and local governments, not the federal government, are often in charge of enforcing child support obligations. Federal jurisdiction only comes into play in a child support case under extremely specific conditions. As a result, child support problems should be brought to the attention of the appropriate state and municipal authorities.

Child support may be collected via a number of civil and criminal procedures available in each state. Child support enforcement services are provided by ‘Title IV-D‘ agencies in each state, which are mandated by federal law to offer such services to anybody who wants them.

BACKGROUND

It was feasible to enforce child support payments on an individual level after the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 was signed into law. It was the goal of the Child Support Recovery Act to punish the worst offenders and discourage future non-payment of court-ordered child support obligations. Some law enforcement agencies felt that modest misdemeanor penalties under the Child Support Recovery Act did not have the power necessary to discourage even severe offenders, despite the fact that federal prosecution efforts were successful under the Act. 

When it came to enforcing the Child Support Recovery Act, a solution was found in the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (DPPA). New federal crimes were established for the most severe child support offenders under this legislation. Willful non-payment of child support imposed by a court is prohibited under federal law in certain situations. Those found guilty risk penalties such as fines and jail.

SANCTIONS VIA MOTION FOR CONTEMPT

One method of enforcing a child support order is to file a petition for contempt. A motion for contempt may be brought against a party that flouts a court order. It is possible to be found in contempt of court for breaking the conditions of an order. If the other party does not pay child support or adhere to the custody arrangement, for example, a petition for contempt may be filed. There are two types of contempt: civil and criminal.

In civil contempt, the aggrieved parent must prove that  [A.]  there exists a valid child support order filed with the D.C. family court; [B.] the non-custodial parent can pay the child support amount, and [C.] the non-custodial parent is in arrears thirty days or more.

The court may order the non-custodial parent to then pay a lump sum amount, or make scheduled payments. If this is not done, then the non-custodial parent may even be incarcerated.  Non-custodial parents may be in criminal contempt if they deliberately violate the court order and all other enforcement measures fail to work. The court may impose sanctions on the non-custodial parent, including a sentence of up to one year in jail, probation; or payment of a fine.

HOW TO ENFORCE A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER

A child support order may be enforced by the Attorney General’s Office’s Child Support Services Division (CSSD), which can attach and seize assets belonging to individuals who owe child support and are held in financial institutions. Without a court warrant, seizures are possible. A Writ of Attachment is first issued by the Child Support Services Division, and then all monies are placed in escrow. The Child Support Services Division issues an Order of Condemnation to the financial institution if a review by the Child Support Services Division does not result in the withdrawal of the Writ of Attachment. The Office of Administrative Hearings must be contacted within thirty days after receiving an Order of Condemnation if individuals want to seek a hearing for adequate District of Columbia Process Service. 

RESUMING CHILD SUPPORT SANCTIONS

In response to the National and District Emergency Declaration Regarding COVID-19., the Office of The Attorney General Child Support Services Division (CSSD) suspended the enforcement of administrative sanctions for non-payment of child support in March 2020. From November 1st, 2021, the Child Support Services Division has decided to reinstate all administrative sanctions.  The office may be contacted via telephonic or mail methods for the District of Columbia Process Service.

Failing to follow the Court’s order to pay support may result in [A.] suspension of the driver’s license; [B.] suspension of the vehicle registration; [C.] suspension of their passport; [D.] filing of Civil or Criminal Contempt of Court; [E.] federal and State Tax intercept; [F.] freezing of bank accounts; [G.] lottery Intercept; [H.] liens on the property of the individual; [I.]  Credit Bureau Reporting; [J.] disability withholding / Worker’s Compensation intercept and other Administrative Offsets to certain federal payments

RESUMING TANF SANCTIONS

In response to the National and District Emergency Declaration Regarding COVID-19 and similar to sanctions preserved for child support, the Office of The Attorney General Child Support Services Division (CSSD) suspended the practice of reporting non-compliant TANF customers to the Department of Human Services (DHS) to prevent a reduction in TANF benefits in March 2020.

There is a resuming of seeking TANF Sanctions for non-compliant TANF customers from November 1st,2021.   Failing to comply with the District of Columbia Process Service requirements of completing the Child Support Online Application and providing information on the non-custodial parent may result in a reduction of TANF benefits.

HOW DO DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS WORK

It must be known that according to the administration sanctions levied by the District of Columbia, no car registration or driver’s license will be renewed or issued to an individual who fails to comply with a subpoena or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings after receiving notice via District of Columbia Process Service. This is also applicable to any individual currently receiving income with overdue child support amounting to a sum of sixty days’ cumulative support. If the individual continues to flout the child support laws, any car registration or driver’s license that has been issued to the person who is receiving income who is in default of around sixty days of support payments will be suspended.

Although this is mostly for a drivers’ license, the suspension is also applicable to a professional, business, recreational, or sporting license as well. None of these licenses will be renewed or issued in the District of Columbia if the individual fails to comply with a subpoena or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings after receiving notice of the same through the District of Columbia Process Service. Furthermore, this provision suspending these licenses would also be applicable for individuals in default of their child support payments.  It should be known here that before actually incorporating any of these suspensions, the individual who is defaulting will be entitled through District of Columbia Process Service to an administrative hearing before the mayor. 

In any contested case, the parties are given reasonable notice under District of Columbia Process Service guidelines of the afforded hearing by the agency. For a hearing of this type, it is necessary to provide [A.] time, [B.]  place, and [C.] issues involved. However, depending on the procedure, the Mayor will determine if issues cannot be fully stated in advance of the hearing, or if subsequent amendment of the issues is necessary. This is a temporary provision, as the issues will be fully stated as soon as possible, and all parties can then present evidence and argument accordingly. There is also no preclusion preventing any contested case from being disposed of by stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order, or default.

 Upon receipt of a District of Columbia Process Service notice from the Mayor that a license is subject to denial, the licensing agency will deny or suspend the license within thirty days. The obligor may appeal the final decision of the Mayor to the Superior Court in accordance with the methods and standards of appeal. 

NOTICE TO THE DEFAULTER

It is imperative for adequate District of Columbia Process Service notice to be provided to the individual. The Mayor should provide a stipulated thirty days written District of Columbia Process Service notice to the obligor before denying or suspending the car registration or the driver’s, professional, business, recreational, or sporting. 

The notice must adhere to District of Columbia Process Service standards and should delineate [A.]  that the obligor has the right to a hearing before the Mayor; [B.] how, when, and where the District of Columbia Process Service notice can be contested; [C.] the amount owed; [D.] the date on which the obligor failed to comply with a subpoena or warrant, if applicable, and the nature of the obligor’s noncompliance; and [E.] that the licensing authority shall deny issuance or renewal, or suspend the registration or license, thirty days after the issuance of a decision against the obligor by the Mayor following the hearing. 

The license suspension will continue according to the trajectory provided by the mayor unless the individual who owes overdue child support pays the arrearage in full. This also applies to if the individual agrees to and follows duly a payment schedule requiring them to make monthly child support payments toward the overdue support. This new payment schedule must have installments that come up to an amount equal to 25% of the obligor’s current monthly child support obligation for as long as they are is receiving income. If the obligor fails to comply with the payment schedule after thirty days, but before the arrears are paid in full, denial or suspension shall take place immediately and without further notice. 

Any individual who has failed to comply with a subpoena or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings complies with all processes required by the Superior Court or IV-D agency for thirty days; or who is receiving income, owes at least sixty days of overdue child support, and has failed to comply with a District of Columbia Process Service document (subpoena or warrant related to paternity or child support proceedings) shall not be entitled to an additional hearing or review regarding the denial or suspension of the license.

The Mayor will also provide the individual with the opportunity to demonstrate why their registration or license should not be denied or suspended according to District of Columbia Process Service guidelines. The only issues to be determined would be [A.] whether the person named in the court notice is a licensee or applicant, has their car registered in the District of Columbia, and seeks to have a car registration issued or renewed; [B.]  if the arrearage has been paid in full, or whether a payment schedule has been agreed to and complied with if the basis for denial or suspension is failure to pay overdue child support; [C.]  whether the obligor is currently receiving income if the basis for denial or suspension is failure to pay overdue child support; [D.]  if the individual failed to comply with a subpoena or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings after receiving notice; and [E.] whether the driver’s license or car registration or professional, business, recreational, or sporting license, should be suspended, or the issuance or renewal should be denied.

It should be known that if the Clerk of the Court has notified the Mayor that the individual has failed to comply with the District of Columbia Process Service for a subpoena or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings or if they are receiving income and still owe child support, and the individual presents no evidence that they have complied with the terms of the agreement, then the license or registration will be suspended, or the request for the issuance or renewal of the license or registration will be denied.

If the individual is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the Clerk of the Court will have to send a written District of Columbia Process Service notice to the Board of Professional Responsibility so that appropriate action may be taken. No liability shall be imposed on a licensing authority for refusing to renew, refusing to issue, or suspending a registration or license if the action is taken in response to a court or administrative order.

For more information on serving evictions papers, contact Undisputed Legal our District of Columbia Process Service department at (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!  We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.

Sources

1. Title IV of the Social Security Act is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Family Assistance administers benefit payments under Title IV, Parts A, and C. The Administration for Public Services, Office of Human Development Services, administers social services under Title IV, Parts B, and E. The Office of Child Support Enforcement administers the child support program under Title IV, Part D.

Title IV appears in the United States Code as §§601–687, subchapter IV, chapter 7, Title 42.

2. Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 STATUTORY REFERENCE: 18 U.S.C. § 228

3. Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 IM-96-04 Publication Date: August 21, 1996, Information Memorandum IM-96-04
The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 (CSRA) was enacted by Congress on October 25, 1992, making it a Federal crime to willfully fail to pay support for a child living in another State. The elements of this crime require that the support obligation be determined by a court or administrative order; that the noncustodial parent and the child to whom the support is owed reside in different States; that the nonpayment of support be willful; and that the past-due support has remained unpaid for over a year or total more than $5000.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have been working together to coordinate the implementation of this Act. OCSE and DOJ have stressed the importance of effective working relationships between the State and Local IV-D offices and their respective U.S. Attorney Offices (USAOs).

4. The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act made it a federal crime for a parent who willfully failed to make child support payments by traveling or moving to another state to avoid making these payments. A parent can be charged with this crime if he or she meets the criteria above and either failed to make support payments for more than a year or that amounted to more than $5,000

5. Enforcement by contempt is expressly authorized by D.C. Code § 16-1005 (f). The party alleged to be in contempt has no right to a jury trial under either the Constitution or the law of the District of Columbia as long as the penalty for such offense is not more than six months. Therefore, contempt proceedings may be heard by a single judge within the Domestic Violence Unit or Family Division or may be certified to the Criminal Division for proceedings consistent with the above statute and this rule. The penalties prescribed for criminal contempt are set forth in D.C. Code § 16-705. 

6. In re Robertson, 19 A.3d 751 (D.C. 2011)

7. For information or District of Columbia Process Service purposes, individuals should contact the office at 202-442-9900

8. (b-1) As used in this section, the terms ‘professional license’ and ‘business license’ include any approval, certificate, registration, permit, statutory exemption, or other forms of permission to practice a profession or trade, or to operate a business, as granted by a commission, agency, or a professional licensing body of the government of the District of Columbia. The terms ‘recreational license’ and ‘sporting license’ include any approval, certificate, registration, permit, statutory exemption, or other forms of permission to hunt, fish, use playing fields, participate in an athletic league, operate a boat, or other recreational vehicles for a non-business purpose, or operate or own a weapon for a non-business purpose, as granted by a commission, agency, or a licensing body of the government of the District of Columbia.

9. The notice shall also state that if a party or witness is deaf, or because of a hearing impediment cannot readily understand or communicate the spoken English language, the party or witness may apply to the agency for the appointment of a qualified interpreter.

10. As set forth in §§ 2-509 and 2-510.

11. Who is receiving income in an amount equal to at least 60 days of support

12. This payment schedule will be subject to the limitations of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, approved May 29, 1968 (82 Stat. 146; 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.)

 

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