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Can I renew my passport if I owe back child support; if my child is now over the age of 21?

New York, NY |

I was divorced in NY when my child was 8 years old, and ordered to pay support via Support Enforcement. A few years later I moved to another country, where I now live as a citizen. I owe about $50,000 in support arrears; and my child is now 22 years old. My U.S. Passport has expired, and I am afraid to go to the U.S. consulate here to apply for a new one; lest they confiscate it, and then I will have no documentary proof that I am an American citizen. Any suggestions on how I might proceed to renew my passport? There is no way that I can pay the arrears, nor am I able to make arrangements to do so. Many thanks for your help.

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Attorney answers 3


This is very difficult. You would have to make a deal to enter into a payout agreement of the $50,000.00 arrears otherwise, you might not be able to get a renewal.


I do not believe that that there is any mechanism for you to renew your passport if you owe $50,000 in child support arrears. The records should show that your passport was suspended a long time ago. You would have to contact the Support Collection Unit to see if they would agree to a payment plan. However, without court intervention, it is doubtful that any payment plan will allow the renewal of your passport. Your only other option would be to contact the mother of your child to see if she would be willing to come to an arrangement concerning the arrears. This is also difficult since as a general rule, arrears are not supposed to be reduced. The court in New York may allow for a reduction in the arrears if you can prove that your income was below the self-reserve amount. You need to consult with an attorney to explore your options.

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It is unlikely that your passport will be renewed unless your case falls between the cracks. If you are a citizen of another country you should get a passport from that country and thus avoid the problem. As for the future, you would have to pay off your arrears or wait until your child is at least 41 for the arrears to go away.

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This advice is not meant to create an attorney-client relationship and is a general anwer to the question posed.