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Parent Locator Services for Child Support Collection

The federal Parent Locator Service is available to help locate the parent of a child in order to establish a child support obligation and to collect past due amounts.

The Parent Locator Service

The federal government maintains a wide variety of databases to serve residents of the United States and citizens employed or located out of the country. The Internal Revenue Service maintains the name, Social Security number, and address of all taxpayers. The Social Security Administration keeps records of the name, Social Security number, and employer of all people who pay Social Security and Medicare taxes or who receive Social Security benefits. The Veterans Administration has records on all veterans receiving benefits. Information is also kept by the Department of Health and Human Services on people who are insured under Medicare, the Department of Education on those who took student loans, and the Department of Housing on those who have federally backed loans. States keep records of employees and their wages through unemployment compensation and new hire databases. States also maintain records on holders of driver's licenses, professional licenses, hunting and fishing licenses, and even marriages licenses. Through the Parent Locator Service, the information on all of these databases is made available to courts, state agencies, and attorneys responsible for enforcing child support laws.

Application for Services

Upon an application for services, made to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a search will be made of all the federal and state databases to locate the last known address and employer of the parent being sought. An application for services must contain: (1) the parent's name; (2) the parent's social security number, if known, or information to obtain the number to the extent possible; (3) whether the individual is or has been a member of the armed services, if known; (4) whether the individual is receiving, or has received, any Federal compensation or benefits, if known; and (5) any other information that will assist the Department in locating and identifying the parent.

Once an application is received, a search will be made of the federal and state databases to obtain information on the last known address of the parent, the current employer, and the income of the parent, including wages, self-employment income, and any state or federal benefits. The information must be treated as confidential, but it may be used to enforce any child support laws, including the establishment of a child support obligation, based on the information provided as to income. The information is also used to collect any past due amounts. For example, a father and mother live in Illinois. They separate and the mother and child move to Maryland. The father quits his job, stops paying child support, and moves to Colorado, where the father takes a new job. The father can be located through the use of the Parent Locator Service, and an interstate request will be sent to Colorado to initiate proceedings against the father.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.