Attacking what he called a "quiet crisis" in American families, President Clinton signed legislation Wednesday that makes it a federal felony to cross state lines to duck child-support payments.

"One way or the other, people who don't support their children will pay what they must," Clinton said in an Oval Office signing ceremony."The quiet crisis of unpaid child support is something that our country and our families shouldn't tolerate. Our first responsibility - all of us - is to our children," he said.

Under the law, felony punishment would apply if the amount owed by deadbeat parents was $5,000 or more and the payments were more than a year delinquent.

Parents owing $10,000 or more or who fail to pay for two years could face up to two years in prison. Parents also could face fines and would be responsible for making restitution for unpaid child support.