(Total Divorce) September 18, 2007 - Back at the end of July, Total Divorce detailed how Governor M. Jodi Rell signed a law to bolster Connecticut child support enforcement, and new federal passport rules are further helping the state make delinquent, non-custodial parents pay up.
Back in 2004, Congress enacted the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative to secure border security and make it harder to reenter the United States. As of January 23rd of this year, United States citizens returning from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda must now present a valid passport in order to reenter the country.
So how does this affect Connecticut child support enforcement? Well, to begin with, applications for passports naturally surged with this new law at the end of January of this year. With that said, the U.S. State Department has been denying passports to any parent who is without child custody and more than $2500 behind on court-ordered child support payments.
With this in mind, Rell has said that tens of thousands of Connecticut parents who are behind on child support must get even on these payments if they want to travel outside the United States. More specifically, Connecticut has more than 57,000 non-custodial parents who could have passport applications denied because of past-due child support payments.
Rell has noted how she has already begun to hear from non-custodial parents asking how they can catch up on their past-due child support balances and thus travel. Since this January, Connecticut has collected nearly $180,000 in past-due child support from 44 non-custodial parents whose passport privileges were in danger.
In just those eight months, Connecticut has brought in nearly one-third of the amount of past-due child support that it has collected via passport denials since 2002. More specifically, Connecticut has collected $600,000 in past-due child support payments from 164 non-custodial parents seeking to get passports since June of 2002.
Connecticut is not the only state to witness an increase in payments of past-due child support by means of passport denial. In just the first six months of this year, roughly $22.5 million in past-due child support payments was collected through the Passport Denial Program. In comparison, it took all of 2006 to collect that much money in late child support through passport denials.
Thus, it appears that the federal Passport Denial Program has really been effective in securing past-due child support this year. While such a program has only been bolstered by new passport rules for leaving and entering the United States, it's also a sad reflection of these delinquent parents who are only paying child support so that they can travel.
While these parents certainly need to reexamine their own obligations, at least you can say that passport denials are currently working in bringing past-due child support balances down.