Courts

CourthouseCourts often perform a pivotal role in providing financial and emotional support for children. Consequently, judicial and legal systems are key players in collaborative efforts with child support agencies to better serve the needs of children and families and facilitate positive outcomes.

Courts are instrumental in ensuring that child support orders are realistic and based on parents’ actual ability to comply.  In jurisdictions that do not use an administrative process, most child support agency-initiated establishment and modification actions are filed and processed in the court.  Thus, courts participate in the day-to-day functioning of the child support program and assist its mission by establishing realistic, appropriate, and timely child support orders, in accordance with due process requirements.  Through setting accurate and fair orders, courts can also reduce or prevent arrears.

Courts are often centers for innovation. Examples range from developing problem solving courts to supporting the creation of online materials and self-help centers to assist parents who do not have lawyers. Cooperative agreements with child support agencies may supply courts with a funding source for some functions and innovations, such as court facilitators to help parents address child support issues. OCSE-promoted problem-solving techniques and practices may improve the outcomes of court cases, enhance compliance, and improve efficiency by reducing the amount of time families spend in court.

Child support agencies and courts frequently collaborate with many of the same partners, including fatherhood programs, workforce programs, criminal justice groups and corrections institutions, veterans groups, domestic violence advocates, child welfare agencies, and many others at the local, state, and federal level.  Some examples of current OCSE court and judicial partners include the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), United States Department of Justice and National Judicial College (NJC).

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