This topic contains information on the following:
Under the provisions of UIFSA, remedies for enforcement of existing orders have been expanded to include direct and administrative enforcement. Registration of existing child support or income withholding orders is also allowed. Before considering which enforcement remedy to use, local CSS must review all existing orders to determine which order is controlling and what type of enforcement action can be taken. For information on determining CEJ and multiple orders, see “UIFSA – CONTINUING EXCLUSINVE JURISDICTION (CEJ)”.
Upon the receipt of a request for registration of an order from an initiating state, the responding support enforcement agency (without initially seeking to register the order) can use any administrative procedure that is authorized by the law of that state to enforce a support order, an income withholding order, or both.
If the obligor does not contest administrative enforcement, the order does not need to be registered. If the obligor contests the validity or administrative enforcement of the order, the order must be registered (if registration is permitted in the responding state). The responding state has the final decision regarding the implementation of the administrative enforcement or any other action to be taken.
Administrative enforcement includes income withholding, tax intercept, professional license revocation, modification of withholding, UIB intercept, liens, or any other appropriate administrative remedies available in that particular state.
For state-specific information about administrative enforcement requirements and procedures, CSS caseworkers can access the Intergovernmental Reference Guide (IRG) through the FPLS State Service Portal (SSP): "https://fplsssp.dhhs.state.nc.us/".
IV-D regulations allow enforcement and collection of spousal support and spousal support arrearages, as long as the CSS agency is collecting the child support and child support arrearages. The local CSS agency must not pursue establishment or enforcement of spousal support only. The tribunal of the state issuing a spousal order has continuing exclusive jurisdiction (CEJ) to modify the spousal order throughout the existence of the support obligation.
Federal law makes special limited access to United States District Courts available to the IV-D program. Under this law, federal courts have jurisdiction to hear and determine, without regard to any amount of controversy, any civil action certified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under 42 USC 652 (a)(8). Use of federal courts is limited to cases in which another state has not taken action to enforce the initiating state’s court order of against a noncustodial parent (NCP) within a reasonable time and the Secretary of Health and Human Services finds that this would be the only reasonable method of enforcing the child support order.
Federal Regulation 45 CFR 303.73 establishes procedures for a state seeking to use the federal courts to enforce a child support order in another state by applying for permission through the appropriate Regional Office of Child Support Enforcement. Any request by a local agency for a case for enforcement in federal court must be made to State Child Support Services (CSS) Office, Attention: Chief, Child Support Services Program.
To apply for permission to use federal courts, the initiating statement must meet the following criteria:
1. Only authorized individuals (state CSS directors or designated state-level representatives) can submit applications;
2. US District Courts can be used only for CSS cases;
3. A court of competent jurisdiction must issue the child support order in the initiating state;
4. The initiating state must furnish evidence that the state where the NCP is present has failed to enforce the order within sixty (60) days of receiving an interstate request;
5. The initiating state must furnish evidence that using the federal courts is the only reasonable method of enforcing the order;
6. Applications can be submitted only if the initiating state has given thirty (30) days notice to the responding state’s central CSS office that the initiating state intends to file an application for permission to use the federal courts if a satisfactory response is not received from the responding state and the responding state has failed to undertake enforcement;
7. The 30-day advance notice of intent to apply for permission must not be given to the responding state until sixty (60) calendar days or more after the initiating state sent a request for enforcement to the responding state; and
8. Applications must be accompanied by copies of the original request for enforcement, the notice of intention to seek certification, copies of the court order, and any response from the responding state.
Upon determining that a CSS case meets the criteria for certification, the local CSS agency provides the CSS Central Office with copies of the court order, the original request for enforcement, documentation that the responding state has failed or refused to take appropriate enforcement action, and any responses made by the responding state regarding this case. The documentation must support that the failure to take action is negligent or willful on the part of the responding state. For example, a decision to postpone a court action by the responding state because the NCP is currently unemployed would not be an appropriate CSS case for certification, nor would a case for which the state had made unsuccessful attempts to serve or contact the NCP for an enforcement action.
An appropriate request for certification could include cases where the responding state failed to respond to either initial requests for enforcement or subsequent requests for the status of the enforcement action or where letters were sent to the agency from the responding state, indicating refusal to take action. This does not include requests for additional information or petitions by the responding state in order to meet their own state's specific requirements.
In addition to documenting the failure to enforce the order, the local CSS agency must exhaust all other applicable enforcement remedies, so that the certification of this case to federal courts is the only reasonable method available. This would also include the use of tax intercept as an enforcement method for collecting past due support.
Upon determining that certification is appropriate, the CSS Central Office sends the responding state a notice of intent to certify the case to the federal courts. If the responding state communicates directly with the local CSS agency after having requested that this procedure be used, the local CSS agency must contact the CSS Central Office immediately to determine if it is appropriate to withdraw the request.
At the end of the 30-day response period, the CSS Central Office submits an application to the Federal Regional Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to certify the case for enforcement in federal court. The Regional OCSE notifies the CSS Central Office of the decision to grant or deny the request.
If certification is granted, the CSS Central Office notifies the local CSS agency. A civil action to enforce a child support order in a US District Court can then be filed on behalf of the custodial parent (CP) by the attorney who is representing the local CSS agency. The federal courts having jurisdiction for enforcement of a child support order include the judicial district where the claim arose, the judicial district where the plaintiff resides, or the judicial district where the defendant resides.
The use of federal courts to enforce child support orders must be considered carefully and used as an enforcement method of last resort. A case that is certified for permission to use a US District Court would indicate that the responding state has failed to cooperate in an interstate child support case as required by federal regulations. Local CSS agencies should be aware that certification could result in the imposition of a federal audit penalty against the responding state.
The federal requirement FRC 303.7(c)(7) for calculating and reporting the amount of interest to collect on arrearages falls to the initiating state. Since North Carolina does not charge interest on arrearages, this provision does not apply in situations in which NC is requesting a responding agency to register and enforce an NC order. If NC is requesting that a responding agency register a third state's order and that state's law allows the charging of interest on arrearages, however, the NC CSS caseworker should contact the state that entered the order for information about the interest charges and provide the responding state with the total amount of arrearage owed, the interest owed, and the effective date of the determination. This information can be forwarded to the responding state by CSENet transaction (for those states that have MSC functionality) or by ACTS document (for non-CSENet states).
If the law of the initiating state allows for the collection of interest on unpaid child support, the initiating state is responsible for reporting the interest charged to the responding state. If the responding state has registered an order of a state that allows the charging of interest, the responding state is responsible for the collection of the interest as well as the arrearages. This information can be requested by CSENet transaction (for those states that have MSC functionality) or by sending an ACTS document (for non-CSENet states).
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.