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Melissa A. Featherston

Man accused of dodging child support spotted on Facebook

Images taken from popular social media site Facebook have gotten a district attorney's office in Missouri one step closer to locating a man accused of skipping out on child support payments. The 23-year-old man posted photos of himself on his Facebook profile holding large sums of cash, apparently prompting a DA investigation. A complaint filed in Wisconsin asserts the man has yet to pay any of the $150 per month has owed in child support for the prior three years. His child is just three years old, indicating that the man has paid little or no support for his offspring.

Law enforcement will not typically investigate Facebook profiles unless a complaint is lodged. At that point, if sufficient evidence presents itself, Facebook can be court-ordered to grant profile access to the DA's office. In this case, the photos were evidence enough to allow Missouri prosecutors to request a search warrant.

It is important to note that Facebook is by no means a resource regularly used by law enforcement. In fact, Facebook will only release personal information if the law requires that it do so. This has not stopped law enforcement from seeking out the wayward father in the photos to hold him criminally accountable for failing to support his child.

In February, the accused man was served with an arrest warrant, but he did not appear at his scheduled court date. Prosecutors will not say whether the man is being actively pursued, but the warrant is still active. Child support payments are often vital to a custodial parent, and should the man be found guilty of failing to provide this support, he could be sent to prison for up to 11 years. Criminal charges are just one means of seeking compliance with child support orders, and there is help available for those in need of collecting back due payments. Not all noncustodial parents in arrears are willfully avoiding their court-ordered obligations, and the law permits those enduring a substantial change in financial circumstances to petition the court for a downward modification of future payments.

Source: Yahoo!, "Facebook Money Pics Bust Dad for Allegedly Dodging Child Support," Alexa Valiente, March 22, 2013

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