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Handbook on Child Support Enforcement
Answers to Your Questions
Department of Health and Human Services
II. FINDING THE NONCUSTODIAL PARENT: LOCATION
In most cases, to establish the paternity of a child, to obtain an order for support, and to enforce that order, the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agency must know where the other parent lives or works. When one person makes a legal claim against another, the defendant must be given notice of the legal action taken and the steps necessary to protect his or her rights. To notify the noncustodial parent in advance under the state's service of process requirements – for example, by certified mail or personal service – child support enforcement officials need a correct address. If you do not have the address, the CSE office can try to find it. The most important information that you can provide is the noncustodial parent's Social Security number and any employer that you know about.
State/tribal CSE agencies, with due process and security safeguards, have access to information from the following:
The FCR includes all IV-D child support cases from the 54 states and territories and non-IV-D support orders established after October 1998. The NDNH contains new hire records, quarterly wage records for almost all employed people, and unemployment insurance claims.
If you have access to the internet, there is information about the FPLS at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/newhire/
Most important are the Social Security number and any recent employer's name and address. Also helpful are the names, addresses and phone numbers of relatives, friends, or former employers who might know where he/she works or lives. Unions and local organizations, including professional organizations, might also have information.
Social Security numbers are now required on applications (not the licenses themselves) for professional licenses, drivers' licenses, occupational and recreational licenses, and marriage licenses; on divorce records, support orders, and paternity determinations or acknowledgements; and on death records.
If none of these is available, or the Social Security number was not yet required when the document was issued, the CSE office can subpoena information about bank accounts, insurance policies, credit cards, pay slips, or income tax returns. If you and the other parent filed a joint Federal income tax return in the last three years, the CSE office can get the Social Security number from the IRS.
Your caseworker may be able to get the Social Security number with at least three of the following pieces of information: the parent's name, place of birth, date of birth, his/her father's name, and his/her mother's maiden name.
Your CSE office will ask the State Parent Locator Service (SPLS) to do a search. Using the Social Security number, the SPLS will check the records of state agencies such as the motor vehicle department, SWAs, state revenue department, law enforcement agencies, and correctional facilities. If the SPLS finds that the parent has moved to another state, it can ask the other state to search, and send a request to the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS).
Not directly. However, you or your attorney can submit a request to use the FPLS through the local or state CSE agency.
Yes. The private service must provide a guarantee in writing that the information is to be carefully safeguarded and only used for child support purposes, and it must have an agreement that meets state requirements for acting as an “agent of the child.”
Yes. For instance, a search can be initiated by the state to another jurisdiction and to the FPLS at the same time. The FPLS matches child support case data with data in the FCR and with the employment data in the NDNH and has access to information from other Federal agencies. Locate information is returned to the state(s) for processing.
Yes. Under certain conditions, the IRS, working through the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), may disclose to the child support office information that income providers submit on IRS Form 1099. This information is a valuable tool to help find a noncustodial parent and determine his or her financial assets. The information may only be used for the purpose of enforcing child support payments.
Information available through Form 1099 includes both earned and unearned income, including wages, earnings on stocks and bonds, interest from bank accounts, unemployment compensation, capital gains, royalties and prizes, and employer and financial institution addresses. Even very small businesses submit 1099 asset information to the IRS, so this can be a good source of information. Any information obtained from the IRS must be verified through a second source, such as an employer or bank, before the CSE agency can use it.
The worker will verify the home and work addresses, and take the next appropriate action on the case, which may include asking the noncustodial parent to come to the CSE office for an interview, or notifying him/her that legal action may be taken.
Yes. The FPLS can provide the current duty station of a parent who is in any of the uniformed services.
No. You can get assistance from the TANF program if you are trying to help find the noncustodial parent. Your state or local CSE agency will tell you what information they will need you to provide in order to get assistance.
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