People who think they can move away to avoid paying child support to an ex-spouse might be mistaken. Sadly, it’s not all that uncommon for people to cross state lines so local police won’t go after them for failing to pay child support. But if they rack up a big enough bill, federal officials can step in.

According to one county deputy sheriff, when authorities knock on someone’s door to collect child support, nine times out of 10 they cannot find them or are told the person doesn’t live there. It can be a little too easy for people to slip away.

Federal officials are hoping to change that. They’ve launched a website to try to find “deadbeat parents,” a site designed to go after fugitives. At the top of that list is a man who owes more than $1 million in child support. According to WAVY’s website, some of the biggest federal cases involve pro athletes, one of whom pleaded guilty to failure to pay child support. He’s now shelling out about $1 million.

Of course, the federal government can’t go after everybody. But if someone crosses state lines and owes more than $5,000 in child support, their crime becomes a felony. That’s where federal officials come in.

In the last five years or so, federal officials have tracked down more than 500 “deadbeat” parents and collected more than $33 million in child support payments.

Of the evasive parents, the Health and Human Services deputy inspector general tells WAVY, “You’re talking about a willful intent to avoid paying for children. For their livelihood, for providing the basics that they so deserve.”

Source: WAVY, “Government goes after deadbeat parents,” Jan. 18, 2012