Provide Only U.S. State of Residence for International Locate Requests
DATE: April 15, 2019
TO: State IV-D Directors
SUBJECT: Provide Only U.S. State of Residence for International Locate Requests
The purpose of this Information Memorandum is to inform state child support agencies that they may identify only the U.S. state of residence of the individual when responding to a locate-only request from the Central Authority of a Convention country or a foreign reciprocating country. As a reminder, states should respond to locate requests originating only from Central Authorities in Hague Convention or foreign reciprocating countries. (See OCSE IM-18-11.)
Convention countries: The Hague Child Support Convention emphasizes communication between Central Authorities. Article 7 of the Convention provides for the Central Authorities of participating countries to make requests for specific measures to each other, where no application under Article 10 of the Convention is pending. Such requests include requests to help locate the debtor or the creditor.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services is the Central Authority for the United States. The Secretary has delegated Central Authority responsibilities to the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). OCSE, in turn, has designated state IV-D child support agencies to perform the Central Authority functions for case processing under Article 6 of the Convention, which include responding to Article 7 locate-only requests. Note that requests for specific measures under Article 7(1) need to be “supported by reasons” as to why they are necessary to assist a potential applicant in making a Convention application or in determining whether such an application should be initiated.
International locate-only requests: Section 459A of the Social Security Act governs location assistance that the Secretary may provide in international cases. It limits information that the Secretary can provide in cases involving residents of the United States and residents of foreign reciprocating countries or foreign treaty countries to notification “of the State of residence of individuals sought for support enforcement purposes.” See section 459A(c)(2) of the Social Security Act (42 USC 659a(c)(2)).
When responding to a locate-only request in an international case, a state child support agency is acting as a designated Central Authority. It therefore can only provide the locate information that OCSE, the agency to which the Secretary has delegated Central Authority responsibilities, is statutorily allowed to provide. Based on the federal limitation placed on OCSE, a state child support agency may similarly identify only the U.S. state of residence of the individual when responding to a Convention Article 7 request to help locate the debtor or the creditor. If the individual is located in the agency’s state, the state agency may confirm that the individual resides in the state. The agency should not provide the debtor’s or creditor’s street address or employment address, or other confidential information. If the individual does not reside in the agency’s state, and the agency locates the individual in another state, the agency may provide that state of residence to expedite case processing. However, the state may also direct the country to OCSE for assistance in obtaining the individual’s state of residence through information provided by the Federal Parent Locator Service. This service is particularly appropriate if the country’s Central Authority is unsure of where an individual resides within the U.S.
Foreign reciprocating countries: Based on federal limitations placed on OCSE, a state child support agency may similarly identify only the U.S. state of residence of the individual when responding to locate requests from the Central Authorities of countries designated as foreign reciprocating countries under section 459A of the Social Security Act.
A state may disclose additional authorized information to the Central Authority of a Convention country or a foreign reciprocating country once the state has an open, intergovernmental case based on receipt of a child support application from the Central Authority.
REFERENCES: OCSE IM-18-11: International Locate Requests from Central Authorities Only
INQUIRIES: Contact OCSE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott M. Lekan
Office of Child Support Enforcement