Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
I have an 11-year-old daughter whose father is living in Chicago. However, I have not been getting any money from him for the child for the past seven years. She has just passed her GSAT. After she got her results, I did some investigations and got a telephone number for his home in Chicago. She called him and told him that she had passed her exam and he told her that he doesn't know her and not to call him again. Since I'm living here in Jamaica, I just want to know if it is possible to get child support from him.
It is important for children and their parents to maintain a relationship even if the parent is not paying child support. In the United States (US), the payment of child support is not linked to visitation. Since seven years has passed, I am sure that the father of your child got a shock when he received a call from her out of the blue and that it would be linked to support - even though he has not sought out the welfare of his child.
The establishment and documentation of a relationship is also important for US immigration purposes if in the future parent and child would wish to file a petition for the other to migrate to the US.
In this situation, you really have two options. The person who gave you the child's father's phone number or another relative or friend may be willing to act as intermediary to help to reintegrate father and child so that they can develop a relationship. It is important that you try this route, if it is possible, because to leave the situation the way it is will leave bitterness on both the part of the father and the child. If a relationship can be developed, I am sure support will follow.
Your second option would be to secure a child support order from the family court in Jamaica and seek to have it domesticated in the State and county where the child's father resides. The courts in America will give "full faith and credit" to a legitimate order of a foreign court and enforce that order in the US. You can try to obtain assistance from the government body that enforces child support in the child's father's jurisdiction. If they will not assist you, then you would need to retain private counsel to domesticate the order on your behalf.
The payment of child support is strictly enforced in the US and if you are a green-card holder and are not paying child support it can result in the denial of US citizenship. Failure to pay child support for all persons obligated to pay child support can result in the revocation of their driver's license, forfeiture of their income tax refund, denial of professional license and denial of US passport among other penalties.
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.