Bench Card: Full Faith and Credit for Protection Orders
AUG 25, 2000
TO: ALL IV-D DIRECTORS
RE: Bench Card: Full Faith and Credit for Protection Orders
Attached please find a Judicial Bench Card on giving full faith and credit to protection orders developed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Center for State Courts, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) amended the United States Code (18 USC 2265) to require State and tribal courts in one jurisdiction to give full faith and credit to valid protection orders issued by a court in another jurisdiction. For a protection order to be valid, the court that issued it must have had personal and subject matter jurisdiction under the law of the State or Indian tribe; and the person against whom it was issued must have been given reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard.
This provision is important for child support purposes because section 454(26) of the Social Security Act prohibits IV-D agencies from releasing information about a parent or child where either a protection order has been entered, or where the State has "reason to believe" that release of information could result in physical or emotional harm to the party or child. If either condition applies, the State must impose the Family Violence indicator to prevent the Federal Parent Locator Service from releasing information about the parent or child. Child support agencies should therefore be screening cases to determine whether applicants or recipients of IV-D services have valid protection orders from other jurisdictions, and should not be requiring applicants or recipients of IV-D services to seek new protection orders merely because their valid protection order was issued by another jurisdiction.
Thank you for your continued work on behalf of the nation’s children.
David Gray Ross
Office of Child Support Enforcement