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How does Massachusetts child support affect international travel?

Residents of Quincy and Norfolk County likely have a variety of financial obligations, from utility bills to rent and mortgage payments to student loans. Residents who are parents also have the everyday expenses of raising a child. In cases where parents are no longer together, the non-custodial parent may have child support obligations.

In Massachusetts, a child support order is a legal obligation that entails penalties, if left unpaid. Penalties include, but are not limited to, income withholding, bank levies, an increase in the amount of support and driver's license suspensions. An additional penalty applies to those who wish to travel internationally: ineligibility for a U.S. Passport.

If a non-custodial parent owes at least $2,500 in child support, that individual is not eligible for a U.S. Passport. The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs recommends paying back child support prior to applying for a passport.

It is important to know that child support must be paid according to state requirements -- not to the federal agency which administers passports. Still, failure to pay child support at the state level may involve another federal agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), if one needs to obtain a passport.

After resolving one's support obligations with the appropriate state agency, the state agency will report to the HHS that payment arrangements are in place. Then, the HHS will remove the paying parent's name from their list of arrears and provide that revised list to the State Department. At that point, Passport Services will verify the updated list from HHS and process the passport application.

Delinquent payments or unpaid child support can have many effects on a parent's life, as well as on the life of their child. Resolving a child support dispute, though, is possible with the right knowledge and resources. A Massachusetts child support attorney can help both custodial and non-custodial parents understand and resolve their unique child support situations.

Source: Travel.State.gov, "Child support payments and getting a U.S. passport," accessed on April 6, 2015

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