Remedies are limited for passport holders (or prospective passport holders) who owe $2,500 or more in overdue child support
We've written before about the various ways to collect child support in New Jersey. But what happens when child support isn't paid? The potential penalties are wide-ranging and quite severe including everything from asset seizure and income withholding to incarceration and license suspension. One of the more dramatic consequences is passport denial.
The bottom line is that a passport application or renewal request can be denied when the non-custodial paying parent accrued $2,500 or more in past-due child support. Yes, passports are issued by the federal government, not the State of New Jersey, but the New Jersey Child Support Program refers these arrearage cases to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), a subdivision of the US Department of Health and Human Services which, in turn, communicates with the U.S. State Department. In New Jersey, anyone who meets or exceeds the $2,500 threshold must subsequently pay off their child support arrearages in full before the passport restriction is lifted. What can you do when your passport is denied? Not too much; New Jersey courts are also limited in what they can do since, again, the Federal Offset Program is federal. After a passport initial application or application for renewal is denied, the applicant can petition the New Jersey Office of Child Support Services. The appeal nevertheless needs to include the following documentation to back-up one of the following sets of circumstances:
- The applicant needs to demonstrate that his or her arrears never exceeded $2,500 in the first place; or
- He or she must demonstrate that international travel at issue (and for which a passport is required) is necessitated by the terms of employment, a medical emergency, or the death/terminal status of an immediate family member.
Appeals are reviewed by the New Jersey Office of Child Support Services and, if the documentation adds up, the matter is referred to the Administrative Office of the Courts for final disposition. And even if you are ultimately released from the program, removal from restricted status is not automatic and additional steps begin to unfold including a 90-day hold. A new passport application may even need to be filed. Experienced assistance is a quick phone call or email away. If you have any questions regarding the consequences of nonpayment of child support in New Jersey, including the suspension of a passport, or if you have any other general questions regarding family court in the Garden State, please contact us online today or call (856) 546-1350 for a confidential consultation with one of our skilled family court lawyers. _______