Clinton Signs Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act
Wants Support On Bankruptcy, Education Bills
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 24) -- President Bill Clinton Wednesday signed a new law that will make it a federal crime to cross state lines in order to avoid child support payments.
The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act entails felony punishment for a parent who moves to another state, or country, with the intention of evading child support payments if the debt has remained unpaid for over a year or is greater than $5,000.
Parents who owe $10,000 or more, or who fail to pay for two years, could face up to two years in prison. Parents could also face fines and would be responsible for making restitution for unpaid child support.
Current law makes it merely a misdemeanor to cross state lines to avoid payments.
Clinton said that too many parents were still walking away from their family obligations and failed to pay child support.
"That threatens the education and health of our children and the future of our country," he said during the signing ceremony at the Oval Office.
Fathers who don't meet responsibilities
President Clinton signs the deadbeat parents law
"One of the main reasons single mothers go on welfare is that fathers have failed to meet their responsibilities to the children," he added.
He said that, while much needed to be done yet, the new law was an important measure to improve the quality of life for children.
"One way or the other -- people who don't support their children will pay what they must," Clinton said.
A tracking system established under the 1996 welfare legislation has identified more than 1 million parents delinquent in child support payments, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
In 1997, child support collections nationwide increased to a total of $13.4 billion, whereas in 1992, collections had amounted to only $8 billion.
Sponsored by Reps. Henry Hyde, R-Illinois, and Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, in the House, and by Sens. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and Herbert Kohl, D-Wisconsin, in the Senate, the bill had passed both chambers by overwhelming margins.
Support on bankruptcy, education bills
Theresa Bardot's husband still owes her $35,000 in child support for son Nick
Clinton also used the signing ceremony to call for congressional support of his bankruptcy reform bill and his proposals to further improve education for children.
Too often in bankruptcy cases, court-ordered child support obligations had to compete against consumer debts, he said.
"We all know who loses in this situation -- it's the children," Clinton emphasized.
The president also called on Congress to support his proposals to improve education, including reducing class size by hiring new teachers and Internet link-ups for schools and more affordable child care for working parents.