Andre Rison Indicted for Child Support Arrears


It appears that the NFL star, Andre Rison didn't learn his lesson after being a month-long resident of one of Georgia's jails for not paying child support in 2004. At the time of his arrest he owed $107,000 in child support arrears.

Rison must now appear in federal District Court in Phoenix this month. The five-time Pro Bowl participant and Super Bowl winning athlete has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney for failure to pay child support in Arizona. Penalties for conviction are a prison term of up to two years and a fine of up to $250,000.

It may seem a bit unusual to see a federal indictment for failure to pay child support. For federal jurisdiction to attach, it generally requires diversity of citizenship (Rison lives in Michigan, the child was living in Arizona when the money was due) and a past due amount exceeding $10,000. Those requirements appear to have been met in Rison's matter.

Since he filed for bankruptcy in 2007, Rison may well claim any failure to pay was not intentional but the result of economic circumstances. Unfortunately for him, child support arrears cannot be discharged during bankruptcy. It could even be argued that Rison's bankruptcy made it easier for him to make payments, since other obligations were presumably discharged in bankruptcy.

Since further details were not immediately available, we will need to await the court proceedings to find out what happens. What is clear is that the federal government shares the concern of local governments that those obligated to pay child support be held accountable. In Georgia, an attorney intent on helping those entitled to child support to pursue claims and collect judgments.

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