Child Custody

Can a United States citizen be extradited to the United States from a foreign country for failing to pay child support?

When a person fails to pay court ordered child support a hearing is scheduled in the Family Court to determine if this person is in Contempt of Court. Contempt of Court requires a finding that a person has the ability to comply with a court order and has willfully chosen to disobey it.

A person found in Contempt of Court is subject to 18 months in jail, a $1,500 fine, and/ or 300 hours of community service.  But what if a person obligated to pay child support is in another state or country?

South Carolina will not extradite a person from another state for failing to pay child support, but there are a number of other tools available to compel compliance with the court order. For example, income taxes, a federal salary, federal and state benefits, insurance claims, personal injury and workers compensation awards and unemployment insurance payments can be seized to pay unpaid child support.

In addition, liens can be placed on real and personal property and bank accounts can be seized in order to satisfy unpaid child support.

In all cases where the child support arrearage is $2,500 or greater, the United States Department of State will be notified and the person owing child support will be unable to obtain or renew their passport.  If the child support payment is overdue for longer than 2 years, or the amount exceeds $10,000, the violation is a Federal criminal felony, and convicted offenders face fines and up to 2 years in prison.

The biggest problem for a person with a child support arrearage greater than $2,500 who is living overseas is the status of their passport. At some point their passport will expire. A person living in a foreign country is required to have a valid passport. This person will not be able to renew their passport until the child support matter has been resolved. As it is not possible for a United States citizen to live in a foreign country without a valid passport, a person whose passport has expired will be subject to deportation.

While no extradition remedy exists for non payment of child support, serious penalties will be levied upon a person who fails to pay child support as ordered by the Family Court.

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