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Frequently Asked Questions for Families

Published: March 18, 2012
Information About:
Families
Topics:
Case Management
Types:
FAQs

Families

Q1:   How can I access payment information on my child support account?
Q2:   How can I contact my local child support office?
Q3:   Where do I apply for help in obtaining child support?
Q4:   What does the child support agency need to know?
Q5:   What documents do I need to bring to the child support office?
Q6:   Is there an application fee?
Q7:   My income has changed, can my order be revised?
Q8:   Can you help me find a job?
Q9:   My children and I need money now. The noncustodial parent left us ten years ago. Can the child support office still take my case?
Q10: I don't have any way to support my baby without help, but her father is dangerous. Is it safe to get child support?
Q11: If the child support office can't find the noncustodial parent, does that mean I can't get cash assistance?
Q12: Will location and enforcement services cost more if my agency is dealing with another state or jurisdiction? 
Q13: Can past-due child support be taken from the state income tax refund?
Q14: How does the non-paying parent find out that his or her state tax refund will be taken?

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Families

 

Q1: How can I access payment information on my child support account?
A1: The federal child support office does not process child support cases.  Please contact your local child support office for information on your case, including payment information. 

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Q2:  How can I contact my local child support office?
A2:   Select your state on the map for contact information.

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Q3: Where do I apply for help in obtaining child support?
A3: You can apply through the state, local, or tribal child support office. Usually, applying to your local child support agency is most effective; however, you have the right to apply to another tribunal if that will result in more efficient service. The telephone numbers for state child support agencies can be found in telephone directories, usually under the state or county social services agency or on the state’s child support website.

Select your state on the map for contact information.

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Q4: What does the child support agency need to know?
A4: No matter where you start -- establishing paternity, finding a noncustodial parent, establishing or enforcing a support order -- the child support office must have enough information to work on your case effectively.  All information you provide will be treated in confidence. The more details you provide, the easier it will be to process your case and to collect child support payments for your children.

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Q5: What documents do I need to bring to the child support office?
A5: Bring as much as you can of the following information and documents. This will help the child support office locate the parent, establish paternity, and establish and enforce your child support order.

  • Information about the noncustodial parent
  • name, address and Social Security number
  • name and address of current or recent employer
  • names of friends and relatives, names of organizations to which he or she might belong
  • information about his or her income and assets -- pay slips, tax returns, bank accounts, investments or property holdings
  • physical description, or photograph, if possible
  • birth certificates of children
  • if paternity is an issue, written statements (letters or notes) in which the alleged father has said or implied that he is the father of the child
  • your child support order, divorce decree, or separation agreement if you have one
  • records of any child support received in the past
  • information about your income and assets
  • information about expenses, such as your child’s health care, daycare, or special needs

You play a big role in getting the child support your children deserve.

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Q6: Is there an application fee?
A6: People receiving assistance under Medicaid, Foster Care, or cash assistance programs do not have to pay for child support services. For all others, a fee of up to $25 is charged, although some states absorb all or part of the fee or collect payment from the noncustodial parent.

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Q7:  My income has changed, can my order be revised? 
A7: Either parent may ask for a review of the order to make sure it is still accurate. Child support offices will review a child support order at least every three years, or when there is a significant change of circumstances, if either parent requests such a review. Some states have a procedure for an automatic update.

Ask your caseworker for information about reviewing and, if appropriate, modifying your child support order. As part of the review, the caseworker will verify the current income of the noncustodial parent. States can adjust a child support order up or down according to child support guidelines, a cost of living adjustment, or automated methods determined by the state.

Contact your local child support office for more information.

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Q8:  Can you help me find a job?
A8:  State child support programs are actively involved in helping noncustodial parents find and keep a job so that they can support themselves and their children. 

We can refer you to employment programs and provide child support case-management services.  We work with other agencies, including courts, TANF agencies, workforce programs, and community colleges, to deliver employment services.

Contact your local child support office for more information.  

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Q9: My children and I need money now. The noncustodial parent left us ten years ago. Can the child support office still take my case?
A9: If you apply for services, the child support office will try to find the noncustodial parent to establish or enforce a child support obligation. Be sure to give your caseworker all the information you have that might help find the parent.

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Q10:  I don't have any way to support my baby without help, but her father is dangerous. Is it safe to get child support?
A10: If you think that you or the baby would not be safe if you try to establish paternity or collect child support, and you need to be in a cash assistance program, you can talk with your caseworker about showing good cause for not naming the father. There are safeguards in place to protect you, such as a family violence indicator that can be placed in your records so that your personal information is not released to anyone who is not authorized to view it.

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Q11: If the child support office can't find the noncustodial parent, does that mean I can't get cash assistance?
A11: No. You can get assistance from the TANF program if you are trying to help find the noncustodial parent. Your state, local, or tribal child support agency will tell you what information they will need you to provide to get assistance.

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Q12: Will location and enforcement services cost more if my agency is dealing with another state or jurisdiction?
A12: Possibly. It depends on what the child support office has to do to find the noncustodial parent and establish regular payment. The more solid information and leads you provide, the more efficiently your case can be conducted. For non-assistance cases, service fees vary in different states. Your caseworker should be able to tell you more about these costs in your particular case. The Child Support Handbook has additional information on interstate cases: see the Introduction section and chapter VII, Working Across Borders.

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Q13: Can past-due child support be taken from the state income tax refund?
A13: All states with state income tax must have laws that require the offset of state income tax refunds to collect past-due child support.  The money first goes to satisfy current support due for that month, next for past-due support owed to families, and finally to states to repay cash assistance provided to the family.  The Child Support Handbook has additional information on intercepting federal and state income tax refunds for child support purposes.

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Q14: How does the non-paying parent find out that his or her state tax refund will be taken?
A14: The state must notify the noncustodial parent in advance of taking the action. The notice specifies the amount owed in arrears, the amount to be offset, and how to contest the offset. The Child Support Handbook has additional information on intercepting federal and state income tax refunds for child support purposes.

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