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Child Support Recovery Act

Crimes Against Children
Not all crimes against children involve physical violence. Some, such as the failure to pay child support, effect the economic well-being of the child. The Child Support Recovery Act (CSRA) of 1992, makes the willful failure to pay a past due support obligation with respect to a child residing in another state a federal misdemeanor offense. The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (DDPA) of 1998, amended the CSRA of 1992. The DPPA established felony violations for traveling in interstate or foreign commerce to evade a child support obligation or for failing to pay a child support obligation which is greater than $10,000 or has remained unpaid for a period longer than two years. Previously, child support cases involved only a misdemeanor violation with a penalty of less than one year imprisonment.

When the CSRA became law in 1992, the FBI was given primary investigative jurisdiction. However, Special Agents of the Office of Investigations in the Office of the Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), have also been given authority to investigate violations of the CSRA. Attorney General Janet Reno updated CSRA prosecutive guidelines and procedures to be followed by Department of Justice personnel in the enforcement of the CSRA. The guidelines make the United States Attorney in each judicial district responsible for determining which cases will be selected for investigation and prosecution. The FBI cannot accept individual complaints from lawyers, advocacy groups, or from individual citizens. According to the AG guidelines, the FBI can only open cases upon referral from a United States Attorney's Office (USAO).

The Attorney General's guidelines are intended to ensure effective prosecution of the CSRA by providing a means for selecting egregious cases which states are unable to handle because of the interstate nature of the case or in which federal prosecution is deemed more appropriate. As a general principle, cases are usually accepted only when the referral clearly indicates that all reasonable and available remedies at the state level have been exhausted. Among such cases, priority is given to those where the following is established:

  • a pattern of interstate flight to avoid payment or flight after service of process for contempt or contempt hearings;
  • a pattern of deception to avoid payment, such as changing employment, concealing assets or location, or using false names and/or social security account numbers;
  • failure to make support payments after being held in contempt;
  • particular circumstances exist which dictate the need for immediate federal intervention, such as where the custodial parent and/or child have special medical needs or where the custodial family is in danger of eviction and homelessness;
  • when the failure to make child support payments has a nexus to other potential federal charges, such as bankruptcy fraud, bank fraud, federal income tax charges or other related criminal conduct; and
  • priority may also be given to those cases where the children of the non-paying parent are still minors.

Through participation in a Department of Justice Interagency Child Support Working Group, the FBI has taken an active role in the implementation and operation of the Project Save Our Children (PSOC) Task Force. The PSOC concept is a multi-agency task force lead by DHHS and is comprised of the FBI, U.S. Marshal's Service, USAO, state and local law enforcement, regionally-located investigators, and child support agencies.

The mission of PSOC is to increase child support collections by identifying, analyzing, investigating, prosecuting, and evaluating the outcomes of the most flagrant criminal non-support cases. The long-term goal is to create a nationwide, comprehensive and coordinated health and human services and criminal justice response to unresolved interstate and intrastate child support enforcement cases. Each PSOC Task Force screens cases referred by state USAOs. Extensive background investigations are conducted on selected cases to provide a complete referral package to the agency tasked with conducting the follow-up investigation. After the screening and financial investigation, the cases are referred to participating agencies for investigation and prosecution based on established criteria.

Individual FBI Field Offices serve as primary points of contact for persons requesting FBI assistance. For further information about FBI services or to request assistance, please contact a Crimes Against Children Coordinator at your local FBI Field Office.

Submitted by: FBI Investigative Programs *

17-Aug-2004 Hits: 552 Rating: 8.00 Votes: 1 Rate It

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