The Deadbeat Parent's Punishment Act is one way that parents in North Carolina and throughout the country may pursue another parent who is not paying child support. The federal law, which was put into place in 1998, is designed to punish parents who have left the state in an attempt to avoid paying child support. A parent prosecuted under the DPPA must have not paid support in over a year and must owe more than $5,000 or must not have paid support in over two years and owe more than $10,000.
The parent who is owed support can file in the state where they or the child lives or in any federal court. Under the DPPA, the owing parent may have to make back payments.
In addition to paying the debts, the parent may also be incarcerated. The punishment is six months or less for a first offense and as much as two years for a second offense.
Parents who are attempting to collect child support may be able to go through their local child support enforcement agency to take action against the parent who is in arrears. There are other avenues that may be attempted before the parent is imprisoned. For example, a parent's wages might be garnished. Custodial parents cannot deny the other parent access to the child if the parent has visitation rights even if the parent is not paying support. Parents who cannot pay support because they have had a change in income or an increase in expenses cannot simply stop paying. They must return to court where they can ask for a modification in support. Even if one is granted, however, it will have no effect on past due amounts.