Many state court systems and individual courts take advantage of federal funding under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act to obtain reimbursement for the costs of adjudicating child support and paternity matters when hearings are handled by persons other than “judges” under state law.
Funding is also available to reimburse courts for the costs associated with assisting litigants with child support and paternity matters. Several states court systems and local courts have obtained significant resources for their court self help programs from this federal source. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), which administers the Title IV-D child support program, recognizes that assisting parents to understand and navigate the child support process not only helps ensure adequate due process safeguards for parents, but also enhances future compliance with support orders.
The federal IV-D program was the original source for California’s extensive network of court-based self help centers; assistance with paternity and child support proved so useful to the litigants and to the courts that the California judicial branch was able to obtain state appropriations to expand the scope of self help center services to cover all family law matters.
The State Justice Institute provided funding to the Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN) to prepare a Resource Guide explaining the regulatory structure within which these agreements are developed and operated. The Guide explains the services for which reimbursement is available; the federal funding incentives structure within which cooperative agreements are negotiated; and the accounting structure required to support reimbursement requests. It contains examples of cooperative agreements in use in several states and a generic form of agreement for courts and state child support enforcement entities to use in developing their own cooperative agreements.
Contributors include John Greacen, Lee Mohar and Richard Zorza.
See related information in the SRLN Brief about OCSE guidance on access to justice innovations.
On November 17, 2014, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled “Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization in Child Support Enforcement Programs” in the Federal Register. OCSE proposed to amend various sections of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which govern the Title IV-D child support enforcement program. On December 20, 2016, OCSE issued the final rule amending various child support regulations. Amendments to the regulations that became effective January 19, 2017 include language that affect Title IV-D funding for self-help services and therefore required that we update and revise this Resource Guide. You will find both the 2014 and the updated 2017 versions below. Access tangible resources from Appendix 5 and Appendix 7.