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Title 9: Criminal

9-74.000 - Child Support And International Parental Kidnapping

9-74.010 Supervisory Authority
9-74.100 Federal Enforcement of Child Support
9-74.105 Child Support——Notice to Target and Charging Considerations
9-74.200 International Parental Kidnapping

9-74.010 - Supervisory Authority

This chapter focuses on the criminal offenses of willful failure to pay past due child support (18 U.S.C. § 228), and international parental kidnapping (18 U.S.C. § 1204). The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division has supervisory authority over each of these offenses.

9-74.100 - Federal Enforcement of Child Support

Title 18, United States Code, Section 228, the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 (CSRA), makes the willful failure to pay a past due support obligation with respect to a child residing in another State a Federal offense. Investigative jurisdiction for this statute is vested in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General, has been deputized to investigate all Child Support Recovery Act cases.

[updated January 2020]

9-74.105 - Child Support—Notice to Target and Charging Considerations

Care must be taken to ensure that the criminal process is not used to enforce a civil debt. As such, once a case has been filed it should not be dismissed. Nor should pre-trial diversion be considered, except in extraordinary circumstances, merely because an offender makes payment. An additional consideration militating against dismissal or pre-trial diversion once charges have been filed is that the deterrent impact of the potential felonious second offense would be avoided by dismissal or pre-trial diversion of the first offense. Additionally, no notice to the target is required prior to the filing of charges in these cases. Such a practice must be weighed carefully in light of the considerations discussed above.

The determination as to whether to issue a summons or a warrant in CSRA cases should be made on a case-by-case basis by the United States Attorney's Office prosecuting the case. Since these charges will generally involve individuals who have a history of evasion of court processes and flight, a warrant may be appropriate. However, other cases involving obligers who, for instance, have become established members of another community, may only require a summons to appear.

9-74.200 - International Parental Kidnapping

Title 18, United States Code, Section 1204, enacted in 1993, makes it an offense to remove a child who has been in the United States from the United States with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights. Such an offense is punishable by a fine under Title 18, imprisonment for not more than three years, or both.

Consultation with the Office of International Affairs is appropriate to determine the possibility for extradition in advance of charging.  Additionally, consultation with the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues is appropriate to determine the possible impact that initiating a prosecution may have on the return of the child pursuant to Hague Convention remedies.

[cited in JM 9-69.421] [updated January 2020]