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Locating noncustodial parents who owe child support

The child support programs in California and around the country are designed to ensure that noncustodial parents contribute toward the expenses associated with raising their children. In addition to providing financial assistance to custodial parents, child support also prevents the children of single parents from becoming burdens on the state and its taxpayers. The system works well when noncustodial parents have stable sources of income and their whereabouts are known, but matters become more complicated when parents must be located.

Parents in this situation should begin by gathering as much information about the absent noncustodial parent as they can. In addition to basic details like the individual’s Social Security number, date of birth and last known address, information about their family members, friends and previous coworkers should be compiled. This data can then be used by state authorities to track the noncustodial parent down or submitted to the Federal Parent Locator Service operated by the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The OCSE is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It is far more difficult to enforce child support orders when an absent noncustodial parent is located in a different state. This is particularly true when the individual concerned works an off-the-books job and avoids contact with law enforcement. Federal law requires states to assist one another with child support enforcement matters, but cooperation can be difficult to come by in real-world situations.

Attorneys with experience in this area may understand the challenges faced by single parents when noncustodial parents fail to honor their child support obligations. When noncustodial parents are absent and state or federal agencies are unable to locate them, attorneys could consult with investigators with skip tracing experience who may be able to put more time and effort into finding them.