I have a client who travels all over the world for his business and his passport has been revoked.

He called my office since his divorce case in California was a complex matter, including an appeal. He did not want his prior attorneys to represent him and he was recommended to me by a fellow attorney.

I decided to take his case, but I indicated to him that I would need to review numerous court orders and pleadings filed by several attorneys to be able to comprehensively understand the procedural history of the case.

We just finished an administrative hearing with the judge in Sacramento and awaiting results.

His passport is just one of the enforcement mechanisms that were implemented by the local Department of Child Support to collect outstanding arrearages. My client’s contention is that the wife/mother (who was never on “welfare” or public assistance) was in fact, overpaid.

The issue is determining if there are child and spousal support arrears is the central question. Solving this sole issue, will release him from federal and state enforcement actions.

The Passport Denial Program which is part of the Federal Collections and Enforcement Program, helps states enforce past-due support obligations. Under the program, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement submits a record of parents certified by a state as having arrearages exceeding $2,500 to the State Department. The State Department denies the parents U.S. passports upon application or the use of a passport service.  Office of Child Support Enforcement does not automatically remove them from the Passport Denial Program even if their arrearages fall below the $2,500 threshold. If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport.

Office of Child Support Enforcement received authority to initiate the Passport Denial Program as part of the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (the Act). The Act provides for the denial, revocation and restriction of U.S. passports when a parent owes at least $2,500 in past-due support. Child support agencies submit information on parents who meet the criteria for passport denial.

When the State Department denies or revokes a passport, it sends the parent a rejection notice and instructs them to contact the appropriate state child support agency and provides the point of contact. The law does not require child support agencies to remove individuals from the program when their past-due amounts fall below the $2,500 threshold. State request removal according to their policies and procedures and based on case-by-case reviews. Some will work with parents to set up a reasonable payments plan, while other will require partial or full payments.

Office of Child Support Enforcement removes the payor from the program when the past-due balance reaches zero or the state deletes or excludes the case. Submitting states are the only agencies that can request a parent’s withdrawal from the Passport Denial Program. If more than one state submits the same parent, all certifying states must request withdrawal before the State Department will issue a passport. If the state has multiple cases for the parent, the state must withdraw all of them.

Without going into much detail, the legal and factual issues of my client’s case are very complex and requires forensic evaluation of prior payments from the marital assets along with characterization of those payments.

During my tenure as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, I worked in the Child Support Agency and understand the intricacies and the powers provided to the federal and state agencies to collect child and spousal support payments (if children are minors).

Tracing all the payments, deciphering several court orders and presenting the case to the courts in a cohesive and “simple” manner to the judges is the goal. As such, an experienced trial attorney knowledgeable in this niche area is critical.

Any questions simply email me at [email protected] or call my office at 310-601-7144.

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CategoryLegal Advice, Recent