Can I Get a U.S. Passport if I Owe Child Support?
If you are like millions of Americans, you will have the need or desire to travel abroad. Perhaps you will want to go overseas for business, to visit family, or to enjoy a second honeymoon with your new husband or wife. However, if you owe back child support, you may not be able to obtain a U.S. passport until you pay off your child support arrears. In other words, you may not be able to travel outside the United States until you resolve your outstanding, overdue child support obligation.
How much child support does someone have to owe before he or she will be denied a U.S. passport? According to the U.S. Department of State, “If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport.”
WHAT I NEED TO DO TO REINSTATE MY PASSORT
If you wish to receive a U.S. passport, you will need to pay your child support arrears. In order to do this, you must contact the applicable state child support enforcement agency and arrange to pay your child support arrearage. Once this is done, the following will occur:
- The child support agency will report your payment to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), informing the HHS that you’ve entered into an acceptable payment arrangement.
- The HHS will then remove your name from its list and it will report this update to the Department of State.
- The Department of State will verify with HHS that it removed your name from its list.
- The Department of State will process your application.
If you currently owe child support arrears, be aware that there can be negative consequences, such as driver’s license suspension, your tax refund can be intercepted, you can face contempt of court allegations, and of course – you can be denied a passport.
How is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
In the state of Texas, child support is paid by the obligor to the obligee. In nearly all cases, the obligee is the parent with whom the child primarily resides. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are rare.
Child custody payments are calculated as a percentage of the obligor’s monthly income. If this income exceeds $8,550, nothing above that amount is considered. This means that an obligor with one child and a monthly income in excess of $8,550 will only be required to pay $1,710. The amount will, however, increase with each additional child.
Child support percentages in Texas are as follows:
• 1 child — 20% of net resources
• 2 children — 25% of net resources
• 3 children — 30% of net resources
• 4 children — 35% of net resources
• 5+ children — 40% of net resources
The Attorney General of Texas has a child support calculator outline that can be used to find the exact amount that you, as an obligor, can expect to pay monthly until the child receiving support turns 18 or graduates from high school. In cases with multiple children, support amounts are reduced as each child meets one of those benchmarks.
Visitation Cannot Be Denied Because Child Support Is Unpaid
TEXAS Family Code 154.011: SUPPORT NOT CONDITIONED ON POSSESSION OR ACCESS.
A COURT MAY NOT RENDER AN ORDER THAT CONDITIONS THE PAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT ON WHETHER A MANAGING CONSERVATOR ALLOWS A POSSESSORY CONSERVATOR TO HAVE POSSESSION OF OR ACCESS TO A CHILD.
A Custodial Parent cannot refuse or cut back on visitation of a non-custodial parent just because child support has not been paid. Many custodial parents use denial of visitation as an effective way of getting child support paid. Such conduct is against the law and punishable by contempt.
A child has an absolute right to visitation and child support. Absent compelling reasons, visitation with both parents is always considered in the best interest of the child. Non-payment of child support should be dealt with and enforced in a proper court. The non-custodial parent is still very important to the child’s life and must be allowed to participate in her/his life.
Conversely, a non-custodial parent cannot stop paying child support just because a custodial parent is denying visitation.
Unpaid Child Support and Visitation with a child are two separate and distinct duties indigent of one another. The non-custodial parent cannot be denied visitation for unpaid child support.
Parents Who Interfere with Custody/Visitation
It can be difficult to tell the difference between what is and is not custodial interference. Below, we take a look at some examples of each.
Problems that may NOT be custodial interference
• Being late to custody exchanges after notifying you of a delay
• Arguments over a child’s extracurricular activities
• Failing to wash a child’s clothes before sending him or her to you
• Buying extravagant gifts for a child
• Allowing a child to call when he or she is with you if necessary
If specific problems get worse or they start having a detrimental impact on your child or your time with your child, then they may cross the line into interference.
Problems that CAN be considered interference
• Refusing to return your child to you
• Taking your child out of the country or state without your knowledge or permission
• Prohibiting a child from calling or contacting you
• Spending time with your child during your parenting time without your consent
• Requiring your child to stay in constant contact while he or she is with you
• Consistently keeping a child longer than the time allotted in your parenting agreement
What to do if your ex is interfering with your parenting time?
You may file with the court if your claims have merit. The courts can modify your custody plan, restrict visitation for your ex, issue fines and/or order mediation to remedy the situation.