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Proposed Federal Child Support Legislation

In March 2013, two U.S. Senators, a Democrat from New Jersey and a Republican from Iowa, introduced proposed legislation designed to strengthen child support enforcement. The Supporting At-Risk Children Act of 2013, which adopted some provisions of the bipartisan bill, is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Finance Committee on Dec. 19.

As of now, the U.S. may not be in full compliance with certain international treaty obligations dealing with multilateral child support conventions. The proposed legislation would require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to use federal child support enforcement methods to ensure compliance with these treaties. If necessary, the requirement could extend to state enforcement.

The proposed legislation would also push states to implement amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. In order to guarantee that states adopt the amendments that have been made by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, their receipt of certain federal funding would be conditioned on compliance. Lastly, the bill would expand state access to the Federal Parent Locator Service in order to help state agencies find custodial and noncustodial parents who owe child support. This service is also designed to locate individuals who are believed to be the father of a child but whose parenthood is not yet legally established.

Unpaid child support is a pervasive problem nationwide, with the most recent statistics showing that over $100 billion in delinquent payments is owed by noncustodial parents. There are very few methods of collection that have proven reliable and sufficient to reduce this amount, and it is hoped that eventual federal legislation may help.

Source: WOWT, “Child Support Measures From Grassley In Broad Bill Advancing In Committee“, December 14, 2013