The most difficult and complicated child support cases are interstate cases. Each state has child support offices and court systems with varying laws, policies, practices, and traditions. All child support enforcement agencies are required to provide the full range of child support services. Included among these services is the establishment of paternity and child support orders along with the enforcement of orders for support. When the location or employment of the non-custodial parent is unknown, resources are available to child support workers that can in most cases uncover the needed information.
Starting Up the Interstate Child Support Case
If you live outside the State of Hawaii and the other parent lives in Hawaii you need to contact the child support office closest to you in your state. If you live in Hawaii and the other parent lives in a different state you need to contact the Hawaii Child Support Enforcement Agency office on the island where you live. You may write, visit, or call the Hawaii Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) at one of the branch locations.
Enforcement methods are almost the same in all states. Income withholding, state and federal income tax intercepts, attachment of financial accounts, and liens are among the methods used to collect child support by the various states. Coercive collection enforcement tools include driver’s license suspensions, contempt proceedings, passport denial and credit bureau reporting. Actions taken in enforcement are determined by the state where the non-custodial parent lives and are applied at the discretion of the state doing the enforcement. The Child Support Enforcement Agency handles each case individually and does whatever is necessary to establish and collect support.
Hawaii conducts administrative hearings on certain interstate child support cases when one of the parties to the case contests a child support action. A parent who cannot attend the hearing in person can request to attend the hearing by telephone. The person calling from another state is put on a speaker phone. Testimony is given in the same manner as if the person was present in the hearings room.
Differences Between States
Differences in time frames for case actions may vary from state to state. Each state has its own laws concerning the age of emancipation of children. Resources also vary between states. Some states may rely upon the courts for contempt actions to enforce compliance with support orders while others like Hawaii use both court and administrative procedures.
Direct Enforcement Instead of Interstate
In many cases where the non-custodial parent’s employer is known, it is not necessary to open an interstate case. Child support can be collected through a process known as direct income withholding. In the direct income withholding process, an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support is sent to the employer in another state and the employer sends the child support directly to the Child Support Enforcement Agency in Hawaii without the involvement of child support offices in other states.
Definitions or Explanations of Terms Used in Interstate Child Support
|Central Registry||The entity required by Title IV-D federal regulations for all jurisdictions to receive, log and distribute interstate child support cases. The Central Registry has oversight responsibility for Interstate cases.|
|Comity||Recognition by one jurisdiction of the legislative, executive or judicial action taken by another jurisdiction, not out of obligation but out of courtesy and mutual respect.|
|Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction (CEJ)||Continuing Exclusive Jurisdiction is the doctrine that only one support order should be effective and enforceable between the same parties at any one time and that once a court has acquired jurisdiction to determine child support and custody, it retains exclusive authority to amend and modify its orders.|
|CSENet||Child Support Enforcement Network CSENet is state-to-state telecommunications network. CSENet is the federal “link” between the states’ automated systems. Detailed child support case information is transferred between states using CSENet.|
|Federal Case Registry||The Federal Case Registry (FCR) lists child support cases and orders from every state. The FCR is a national database of information on individuals in all IV-D cases, and all non IV-D orders entered or modified on or after October 1, 1998. The FCR receives this case information on a daily basis from the State Case Registry (SCR) located in every State, proactively matches it with previous submissions to the FCR and with employment information contained in the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH). Any successful matches are returned to the appropriate State(s) for processing. The FCR and the NDNH are both part of the expanded FPLS.|
|Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS)||A system devised and operated by OCSS (Office of Child Support Services) for the purpose of searching Federal Government records to locate parents. FPLS obtains address and employer information, as well as data on child support cases in every State, compares them and returns matches to the appropriate States. This helps State and local child support enforcement agencies locate non-custodial parents and putative fathers for the purposes of establishing custody and visitation rights, establishing and enforcing child support obligations, investigating parental kidnapping, and processing adoption or foster care cases. The Federal Parent Locator Service provides information about non-custodial parents anywhere in the United States. The Federal Parent Locator Service includes the National Directory of New Hires and the Federal Case Registry.|
|FIPS Code||Federal Information Processing Standards Code. A numerical designation for jurisdictions; a two-character state identifier coupled with a three-character county identifier. It is used by Child Support Enforcement Units to identify child support offices.|
|Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act||The Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act directs that a State must honor an order or judgment entered in another State. This act requires responding states to adhere to the provisions of a child support order issued in an initiating state and restricts the ability of responding states to make changes to child support orders.|
|Home State||State in which a child lived with a parent, or person acting as a parent, for at least 6 consecutive months immediately preceding the time of filing of a petition/complaint for support. If a child is less than 6 months old, the state in which the child lived from birth with a parent or person acting as a parent.|
|Initiating Jurisdiction||A county/state/sovereign nation in which the action is commenced.
The state in which an interstate proceeding is commenced and is usually where the custodial parent is located.
|Initiating Order||An order that has been forwarded to another jurisdiction for enforcement.|
|Initiating State||The state in which an interstate proceeding is commenced and is usually where the custodial parent is located.|
|Interstate Case||A case which involves two or more states. States must cooperate with each other to provide all child support services. Laws may differ from state to state, but all child support agencies try to assist each other.|
|Interstate Roster and Referral Guide (IRG)||A reference source, which contains all the different states’ profile for State Parent Locator services; IV-D Agencies; Central Registries and tax offset programs. Intergovernmental Referral Guide|
|Issuing State||The state in which a court or tribunal issues a support order or renders a judgment determining paternity|
|Long Arm Jurisdiction||Legal provision that permits one State to claim personal jurisdiction over someone who lives in another State. There must be some meaningful connection between the person and the State or district that is asserting jurisdiction in order for a court or agency to reach beyond its normal jurisdictional border. If a State does not have Long Arm Jurisdiction, then the State must undertake a Two-State Action under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) guidelines for certain actions, such as establishing a support order. Other actions, such as Direct Income Withholding, are allowed by UIFSA and do not require a Two-State Action.|
|Long-Arm Statutes||A statute that provides for personal jurisdiction, over individuals who are non-residents of the state, for limited purposes, in actions which concern claims that the “defendant” caused an action to occur by having “minimum” contact in this state.|
|Minimum Contact||A doctrine which provides that before someone, or an entity, is subject to a suit in a state such person’s or entity’s activity within the state must meet basic activity requirements. For a nonresident to be subject to a state’s personal jurisdiction, he must have certain minimum contacts with the state such that maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.|
|Multistate Employer||An organization that hires and employs people in two or more States. The multistate employer conducts business within each State and the employees are required to pay taxes in the State where they work. As with single-state employers, multistate employers are required by law to report all new hires to the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH) operated by their State government. However, unlike single-state employers, they have the option to report all of their new hires to the SDNH of only one State in which they do business rather than to all of them.|
|Multistate Financial Institution Data Match (MSFIDM)||Process created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 by which delinquent child support obligors are matched with accounts held in Financial Institutions (FI) doing business in more than one State. States submit data to the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) on a non-custodial parent (NCP) and their arrearage, and indicate whether the NCP should be submitted for MSFIDM. OCSS transmits the file to participating multistate financial institutions, who match the information against their open accounts, and returns matches to the appropriate States who can then undertake action to place a lien on and seize all or part of the account.|
|National Directory of New Hires (NDNH)||The National Directory of New Hires is the central database of employment, unemployment insurance, and wage information from every state. Employers anywhere in the nation must report every new employee’s name, address, and social security number.|
|Office of Child Support Services (OCSS)||The Federal agency responsible for the administration of the child support program. Created by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act in 1975, OCSS is responsible for the development of child support policy; oversight, evaluation, and audits of State child support enforcement programs; and providing technical assistance and training to the State programs. OCSS operates the Federal Parent Locator Service, which includes the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) and the Federal Case Registry (FCR). OCSS is part of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), which is within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).|
|Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA)||Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This federal legislation eliminated the open-ended federal entitlement of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and created block grants for states to provide time-limited case assistance for needy families. This legislation also caused changes in the Food Stamp program, Supplement Security Income (SSI) for children benefits, benefits for legal immigrants and in the Child Support Enforcement program. PRWORA established or modified a number of requirements for employers, public licensing agencies, financial institutions, as well as State and Federal child support agencies, to assist in the location of non-custodial parents and the establishment, enforcement, and collection of child support. This legislation created the New Hire Reporting program and the State and Federal Case Registries. Otherwise known as Welfare Reform.|
|Reciprocity||A relationship in which one State grants certain privileges to other States on the condition that they receive the same privilege.|
|Registration of an Order||A state receiving and acting on an interstate child support case and is usually where obligor resides. The responding state provides child support enforcement services upon request from another state.|
|Responding Jurisdiction||A county/state/sovereign nation which answers a legal action initiated in another jurisdiction and is usually where the NCP lives, works or owns property.|
|Responding Order||An order issued by the responding jurisdiction.|
|Responding State||A state receiving and acting on an interstate child support case and is usually where obligor resides. The responding state provides child support enforcement services upon request from another state.|
|State Parent Locator Service (SPLS)||The organization in the IV-D Agency charged with the duty of locating non-custodial parents for establishing or enforcing child support obligations.|
|Action a State must file under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) when it does not have Long Arm Jurisdiction (i.e., cannot legally claim personal jurisdiction over a non-custodial parent who lives in another State). This is usually in cases where a State is trying to establish an initial child support order on behalf of a resident custodial party. Other actions, such as requesting wage withholding or reviewing and/or revising an existing support order, may not require a Two-State Action.|
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)
|A model act, required by PRWORA. It required that States pass this Act in its entirety, as is, not in bits and pieces or with the States’ own language, by January 1, 1998. UIFSA provides mechanisms for establishing and enforcing child support obligations in interstate cases (when a non-custodial parent lives in a different State than his/her child and the custodial party). The provisions of UIFSA supersede those of URESA, although some URESA provisions may remain in effect (some States have rescinded all of URESA, while others have left in place those provisions not specifically superseded by UIFSA). Among the law’s provisions is the ability of State IV-D agencies to send withholding orders to employers across State lines. See – Direct Enforcement Instead of Interstate|
Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA)
|A model act created in 1950 and revised in 1968, which set forth reciprocal legislation concerning the enforcement of support between the states. Replaced by UIFSA.|