DATE: March 18, 2005
TO: Tribal IV-D Directors
FROM: David H. Siegel
Office of Child Support Enforcement
SUBJECT: Use of IV-D Funding to Pay for Private Attorney Fees for the Purposes of Child Support Establishment and Modification
This Policy Interpretation Question – Tribal (PIQT) is in response to a question that was submitted to us by the Navajo Nation Division of Child Support Enforcement Services (NNDCSE). We are responding in the form of a PIQT as this information may be useful to other Tribal IV-D programs.
BACKGROUND: The Navajo Nation Supreme Court recently ruled that the administrative office of the Navajo National Office of Hearings and Appeals cannot modify court orders issued by any District Court of the Navajo Nation under the Judicial Branch of the Navajo Nation. Because of the ruling, some modifications to child support orders made by the Office of Hearings and Appeals prior to the ruling may need to be vacated and relief sought through attorneys taking the matter through the Navajo Nation judicial courts. Unless the NNDCSE pays for those legal fees to modify or establish, the children may suffer further financial hardship.
QUESTION : May the Navajo Nation use IV-D funding to pay for private attorney fees for the purpose of child support establishment or modification?
RESPONSE : Yes, provided these fees are incurred by the Tribal IV-D agency as part of the administration of the Tribal IV-D plan with respect to cases receiving services under the Tribal IV-D program. The regulations at 45 CFR 309.60(b) and (c) provide that the Tribal IV-D agency need not perform all of the functions of the program and may delegate functions to another agency or entity pursuant to a cooperative arrangement, contract, or Tribal resolution.
The allowable costs and activities of operating a Tribal IV-D program, provided that such costs are determined to be reasonable, necessary, and allocable to the program, are outlined in 45 CFR 309.145(c): specifically, “Establishment, modification, and enforcement of support obligations including: (1) Investigation, development of evidence and, when appropriate, court or administrative actions.”
Inquiries should be directed to the appropriate ACF Regional Office.
CC: CSE Regional Program Managers
State IV-D Directors