Analysis of Child Support-Related Provisions in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996
Oct 01, 1996 | Vicki Turetsky
|"Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation
Act of 1996" (P.L. 104-193)
|Operation of child support (IV-D) program and relationship to welfare (IV-A) program||Sec. 103; 104; 301. Repeals Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, and replaces AFDC program with temporary family assistance block grant program. Authorizes states to contract out IV-A services or distribute vouchers to charitable, religious, or private agencies.
States must operate a IV-D program, and provide services to each child (resident or nonresident) who is (1) receiving IV-A assistance, IV-E benefits or services, or Medicaid, (2) formerly receiving IV-A assistance, or (3) applying for IV-D services.
|Assignment and cooperation||Sec. 103, 333. IV-A applicants and recipients (and Medicaid applicants and recipients for medical support) must (1) assign support rights to the state (assignment conforms to distribution provisions) and (2) cooperate "in good faith" by providing the father's name and such other information as the state may require, subject to good cause and other exceptions. The exceptions must be defined, taking into account the best interests of the child.
Responsibility for determining cooperation is transferred to the IV-D agency, but states have the option to keep good cause determinations in the IV-A and Medicaid agencies.
States can not require recipients to sign a voluntary acknowledgment or otherwise relinquish the right to genetic tests as a condition of cooperation.
States must reduce IV-A assistance by at least 25% for failure to cooperate and may impose a full-family sanction.
IV-A block grant will be reduced by up to 5% if the IV-A program does not enforce noncooperation sanctions.
|Domestic violence||Sec. 103. At state option, states may certify that they have procedures to screen and identify IV-A recipients with a history of domestic violence, refer them for counseling and supportive services, and waive (pursuant to a determination of good cause) other program requirements, such as time limits, residency, family cap, and child support cooperation provisions.|
|Transitional Medicaid||Sec. 103; 114. A family who would become ineligible for Medicaid as a result (wholly or partly) of child support collected by the IV-D program, and who received Medicaid in at least 3 of the 6 immediately preceding months, remains eligible for Medicaid for 4 additional months.|
|Child support provisions in Food Stamp program||Sec. 809; 822; 823. At state option, custodial and noncustodial putative and legal parents and custodians receiving Food Stamps must cooperate with the state child support program. Custodial parents may claim good cause. Cooperation and good cause to be defined by USDA in consultation with HHS. The state Food Stamp agency makes cooperation and good cause determinations.
At state option, delinquent obligors are disqualified from Food Stamps unless a court allows the obligor to delay payments or the obligor is complying with a payment plan.
An income deduction for child support payments is authorized in the Food Stamp program.
|Noncustodial parents||Sec. 103; 365. State IV-D programs must have the authority to seek an order against a noncustodial parent owing support to a child in the IV-A caseload to pay under a court- or agency-approved plan or participate in authorized work activities.
IV-A programs must report quarterly on the number of noncustodial parents in the state who participated in mandatory work activities.
Sense of Congress that states should require minor noncustodial, nonsupporting parents to perform work/parenting activities.
|Grandparent liability||Sec. 373; 904. States have the option to enforce support orders against the grandparents (the parents of a minor noncustodial parent) if the custodial parent is receiving IV-A assistance. Sense of Senate language encouraging states to set up pilot programs requiring the parents of minor, noncustodial, nonsupporting parents to pay child support or participate in work activities.|
|$50 pass-through disregard for IV-A families||Sec. 103; 302. Repeals disregard rules. While states may disregard support distributed to IV-A families, any disregard must be paid for out of the state's share of collections.|
|Distribution of collections made for current IV-A and IV-E recipients||Sec. 302. States (1) must pay the federal share of IV-A and IV-E collections based on Medicaid rate; (2) may either retain the state share or distribute it to recipients. States currently using fill-the-gap budgeting have the option to continue. Clarifies that only foster care maintenance payments under title IV-E are covered. The federal share is based on the federal medical assistance percentage.|
|Distribution of arrears to former IV-A and IV-E recipients||Sec. 302. (1) Retains current law for support accrued and collected before 10/1/97; (2) requires states to distribute post-assistance arrears collected after 10/1/97 to the family before state arrears are reimbursed; (3) retains current law for pre-assistance arrears collected before 10/1/00; (4) requires distribution of pre-assistance arrears collected after 10/1/00 to the family; (5) requires "family-first" distribution to the post-assistance period, then to the pre-assistance period, then to the assistance period; (6) authorizes states to apply federal tax offset proceeds to state arrears first; (7) pre-enactment assignments remain effective; (8) HHS must report to Congress by 10/1/98 on whether the distribution to families of pre- and post-assistance arrears has been effective.|
|Privacy safeguards||Sec. 303. Effective 10/1/97, states must have safeguards on information where a protective order has been entered or if release may result in harm.|
|IV-D applicants and parties entitled to notice||Sec. 304. Effective 10/1/97, states must provide IV-D applicants and parties to IV-D cases with notice of proceedings and copies of orders within 14 days after issuance.|
|Expanded Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS)||Sec. 316; 345. By 10/1/98, FPLS must include a Federal Case Registry of Support Orders and, by 10/1/97, a National Directory of New Hires funded from 2% of federal collections share and user fees. FPLS must match data in Federal Case Registry and New Hire Directory every 2 days and report matches to state within 2 days.
FPLS locate authority is expanded to include (1) establishing parentage; (2) setting, modifying, and enforcing support orders; and (3) enforcing child custody and visitation orders. Noncustodial parents do not have direct access to FPLS (requests must go through the IV-D agency or courts to ensure protection of the custodial parent). No information may be disclosed if the state has notified HHS that the state has reasonable evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
|State case registry||Sec. 311. IV-D agency's automated system must include a central case registry (or linked local registries) for (1) IV-D cases and (2) all support orders established or modified in the state after 10/1/98. Case registry must include payment records. State must send abstracts to and match data with Federal Case Registry.|
|State new hire directory||Sec. 313. By 10/1/97, states must operate a state directory of new hires. States that already have new hire registries must conform by 10/1/98 (but must report to FPLS by 10/1/97). States must conduct data matches between the case registry and new hire directory by 5/1/98.
Employers must report new hires within 20 days after hire (or first pay) on a W-4 or equivalent (at employer option). States may establish a time earlier than 20 days but no state may exceed the 20 day limit. Employers transmitting reports electronically or magnetically report twice per month. Multistate employers may designate and report to one state. Federal employers report to National Directory of New Hires. States have the option to set employer penalties of less than $25 (or $500 for a conspiracy).
State must enter data within 5 days after receipt, transmit data to the National Directory of New Hires within 3 days after entry, and send withholding notice to employer within 2 days after entry. A state or local child support agency may disclose wage information to a contractor.
|State centralized collection and disbursement unit||Sec. 312; 314. By 10/1/98, states must operate an automated centralized unit (or linked local units if the system will not cost more or take more time to establish or operate, and employers send support to one location) to collect and disburse support payments. States that process payments through local courts may continue to use the courts through 9/30/99.
Unit must process payments for (1) IV-D cases; (2) interstate IV-D cases; (3) non-IV-D orders initially issued on or after 1/1/94 and subject to immediate withholding; and (4) non-IV-D orders issued or modified before 10/1/96 and subject to withholding if arrearage occurs.
|Computer enhancements to statewide automated system||Sec. 312; 325; 344. The statewide automated system must support collection and disbursement activities in IV-D cases by (1) transmitting withholding orders to employers; (2) monitoring payment defaults; (3) using automatic enforcement procedures. The system must be used to the maximum extent feasible to implement expedited administrative procedures.
The system must (1) control and account for public funds; (2) maintain good reporting data; (3) calculate performance indicators; (4) maintain data integrity and security.
|Deadline for systems requirements||Sec. 344. The deadline for 1988 Family Support Act system requirements is extended to 10/1/97 (already extended by P.L. 104-35). The deadline for post-FSA requirements is 10/1/00 (extended if HHS delays rules).|
|Procedures for voluntary acknowledgment of paternity||Sec. 331; 332. State birth records agencies must offer paternity services. Paternity orders and acknowledgments must be filed in birth records agency. States must publicize procedures for paternity acknowledgment.
Father's name can be on birth certificate only if both parents sign an acknowledgment or pursuant to an order. States must give oral and written notice before parents sign. An acknowledgment becomes a legal finding of paternity in 60 days unless challenged for fraud, duress, or mistake of fact. No ratification or rescission is permitted after 60 days or after a proceeding relating to the child to which the signatory is a party.
States must develop and use an affidavit meeting minimum national standards (developed by HHS), and to give full faith and credit to other state affidavits.
|Contested paternity establishment
|Sec. 325; 331. The state IV-D agency must be able to order genetic tests. States must pay for state-ordered tests (subject to recoupment from the father) and to obtain additional testing upon request and advance payment. Party requests for genetic tests must be supported by sworn statement.
States must admit accredited genetic test results into evidence without foundation and may limit objections to test results to a specific number of days after receipt of results. Medical and genetic testing bills also must be admissible without a foundation and are prima facie evidence.
States must create a rebuttable (or at state option, conclusive) presumption of paternity upon genetic tests indicating a threshold probability of paternity. Temporary support orders must be entered based on clear and convincing evidence.
The putative father has no right to jury trial. The putative father may initiate a paternity action.
|Expanded locate sources||Sec. 315; 317; 325; 352; 372. States must record SSN on driver's, professional, occupational, and marriage applications, divorce decrees, paternity and support orders, and death certificates.
States must enter into agreements with financial institutions doing business within the state to conduct quarterly data matches. States also must obtain automated access to information in automated public records, including of vital statistics, tax, property title, motor vehicle, business registration, licensing, employment security, corrections, and public assistance. States must have subpoena authority. States must obtain access to data from utilities and cable companies (pursuant to an administrative subpoena), and financial institutions. Credit bureaus must furnish reports to IV-D agencies. State IV-D locator services must access nationwide motor vehicle or law enforcement networks used by the state.
|Enforcement procedures||Sec. 325; 352; 364; 367; 368; 369; 370; 372; 374. States must (1) seize lump sums from workers' and unemployment compensation, lotteries, judgments, settlements; (2) attach assets in financial institutions and retirement funds; (3) seek to void or settle fraudulent transfers; (4) force the sale of property; (5) have the authority to suspend driver's, professional, occupational, and recreational licenses; (6) impose liens, which must arise by operation of law.
Credit bureaus must furnish reports to IV-D agencies, and states must report arrearage to credit bureaus.
Child support owed to a state is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Effective 10/1/97, cases with a $5000 arrearage are subject to passport revocation.
|Income withholding||Sec. 312; 314. All non-IV-D orders issued or modified before 10/1/96 are subject to standard withholding procedures if an arrearage occurs, without a new hearing (unless the income is subject to immediate withholding).
States must process both IV-D and non-IV-D withholdings through the disbursement unit, but need only send withholding orders in IV-D cases. States must transmit withholding orders to employers within 2 days and may execute them through electronic means. States may execute an order without advance notice to the obligor, but states must send notice that withholding has commenced.
Employers must send withheld income to the disbursement unit within 7 days after payday. Employers must withhold income as directed in the order, except that when the order is issued by another state, the law of the state of the employer's principal place of employment applies in determining the (1) employer's fee for processing the order; (2) the maximum withholding; (3) the processing time periods; (4) the allocation priorities for multiple obligees; (5) any unspecified terms. An employer who complies with an order that is regular on its face is immune from liability.
The term "income" is defined.
|Expedited procedures||Sec. 325. State IV-D agencies must be able (without obtaining an order from any other judicial or administrative tribunal) to (1) order genetic tests; (2) subpoena information and impose penalties; (3) require all public and private entities to respond and impose sanctions; (4) obtain information in specified public and private records; (5) change payees; (6) order withholding; (7) seize lump-sum payments, assets in financial institutions, and retirement funds; impose liens and force property sales; (8) increase monthly payments on arrears.|
|Review and adjustment procedures||Sec. 351. States must review and adjust support orders every 3 years (or shorter cycle) or based upon a substantial change in circumstances (1) upon the request of either parent, or (2) if there is a IV-A assignment, upon the request of the state agency or either parent. States may either review and adjust orders on a case-by-case basis, apply a cost-of-living adjustment (with an opportunity for parties to request a case review), or conduct automated reviews. States must send parents in the IV-D caseload notice every 3 years informing them of their right to a review. The notice may be included in the order.|
|Medical support||Sec. 381; 382. ERISA definition of medical support orders to include administrative orders.
All IV-D orders must include health care coverage, and notice to new employer is sufficient to enroll the child in the absent parent's health plan (unless contested).
|Federal employees and military personnel||Sec. 362; 363. Federal employers must designate an agent to receive and respond to process. Secretary of Defense must operate a central personnel locator for each member of the armed services. Each military department must facilitate leave for paternity and support hearings. Section defines federal compensation subject to withholding.|
|Statewide jurisdiction||Sec. 325. All paternity and support proceedings must be able to exert statewide jurisdiction over the parties and transfer case between local jurisdictions.|
|Interstate and international procedures||Sec. 321; 322; 323; 324; 371. States must adopt UIFSA (as amended to require employers to follow procedural rules of state where employee works) by 1/1/98. States must accord full faith and credit to out-of-state orders without registration and follow new ordering rules. States must use federal income withholding, liens, and subpoena forms in interstate cases.
States may electronically request interstate enforcement without transferring the case. States must respond within 5 days to an interstate request for administrative enforcement and maintain records. States must accord full faith and credit to other state liens without registration of support orders.
States must accept requests from foreign reciprocating countries. The Secretary of State is to declare reciprocating countries based on country's procedures and standards.
|Tribal enforcement||Sec. 375. Authorizes states and tribes or tribal organizations with a court having the authority to establish paternity and establish, modify, and enforce support orders to enter into cooperative agreements. The federal government may directly fund approved tribal IV-D programs.|
|New data collection and reporting requirements||Sec. 343; 346. OCSE must establish uniform data definitions and, effective FY 1997, collect new data on (1) the number of IV-A cases that became ineligible and received child support during the month, (2) current support and arrears; (3) unpaid support; (4) former Medicaid cases.|
|Reviews and audits||Sec. 342. States must (1) annually review compliance with expedited procedures, timely processing, and other requirements, and (2) extract performance data from automated system. Effective 12 months or more after enactment, OCSE will audit state data quality and financial management every 3 years|
|Paternity Establishment Percentage (PEP)||Sec. 341. The PEP is increased from 75% to 90%. States between 75-89% must now improve 2% to avoid sanction risk. States can use either a IV-D or statewide PEP calculation.|
|Performance-based incentive payments||Sec. 341. Requires HHS, in consultation with state IV-D directors, to develop a new revenue-neutral incentive system and report to Congress by 3/1/97. The new system is to become effective on 10/1/99.|
|Systems funding||Sec. 344. (1) For FSA requirements: states can claim 90% enhanced matching funds through FY 1997, up to the amount approved in the state's advance planning documents submitted by 9/30/95. (2) For post-FSA requirements: 80% funding is available for case registry and other enhancements to statewide automated system from FY 1996 through 2001 (capped at $400 million and allocated).|
|Technical assistance; research; grants||Sec. 345; 391. 1% of federal share of collections is appropriated for technical assistance, projects, research, and demonstrations.
State access and visitation programs to be funded through lesser of 90% of access program expenditures or formula allotment. No state to be allotted less than $50,000 for FY 1997 or 199, or $100,000 for succeeding years.
|Effective date||Sec. 116; 395. Except as otherwise provided, IV-A block grant provisions are generally effective 7/1/97, but states can implement earlier.
Child support provisions are effective upon enactment, except as otherwise provided. Where state laws or state plans must be amended, the effective date is 10/1/96, or (for state laws) the first day of the first quarter after close of the first regular legislative session after enactment. Grace period for constitutional amendments.