If You Don't Know There's a Problem, How Can You Find a Solution? The Need for Notice and Hearing Rights in Child Support Distribution Cases
Publication Date: October 2002
Publisher(s): Center for Law and Social Policy
Author(s): Paula Roberts
Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Coverage: United States
Under federal law, states receive substantial federal funding to provide child support services to single-parent families who request such services. In order to know whether the support has been properly allocated, the custodial parent needs a basic notice describing what was collected, from whom, when, by what means, and how the state distributed the money. If the parent feels that a mistake has been made, the parent needs access to a hearing procedure to dispute the allocation.
These fundamental due process rights are granted by the federal constitution as well as federal law and regulation. However, many states follow neither the letter nor the spirit of the law, leaving custodial parents with little or no information about how their child support payments are being handled. States that do not now offer these rights to custodial and non-custodial parents should be encouraged to do so through legislation, administrative advocacy, or court order. The information provided in this paper should enable advocates to follow one of these strategies to obtain these rights for their clients.