Child Support Enforcement

Congress established the Child Support Enforcement Program in 1975 under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act to collect child support. The program's goal is to ensure that all children are supported financially by both parents and to reduce the number of children receiving public assistance.

State Child Support Programs locate noncustodial parents, establish paternity, establish and enforce support orders, modify orders when appropriate, and collect and distribute child support payments. While programs vary from state to state, their services are available to all parents who need them.

Collecting Child Support

Tools that are available to collect child support include:

  • Income withholding
  • Revocation of drivers, professional, recreational and occupational licenses of parents who are not current in their child support payments
  • Seizure of assets, including financial accounts
  • Liens on property
  • Denial of passports
  • Federal and state tax refund offset

Enforcing Child Support

Property settlement, visitation and custody are not, by themselves, child support enforcement issues, however, each state receives grant money from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to develop model programs to ensure that children have access to both their parents.

No matter where you start, establishing paternity, finding a noncustodial parent, establishing or enforcing a support order, the Child Support Enforcement office must have enough information to work on your case effectively. All information you provide will be treated in confidence. The more details you provide, the easier it will be to process your case and to collect child support payments for your children.

If child support enforcement becomes an issue, it is necessary to have a legal order for child support spelling out the amount of the obligation and how it is to be paid. Establishing a support order depends on how much success you and your caseworker or lawyer have in several critical areas, such as locating the noncustodial parent, if necessary; identifying what he or she should pay; and determining the financial needs of the child.

Some issues related to child support include:

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