Welfare Cases & Welfare Reform

Approximately 40 - 50% of all cases currently handled by government CSE agencies involve custodial parents with children on welfare. Formerly known as Aid To Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) welfare is now known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 is more commonly known as the Welfare Reform Act and it has brought about many new changes with respect to welfare and child support. Some of these changes are:

  • 5 year lifetime limitation on collection of cash assistance.
  • Minor mothers are no longer allowed their own welfare grants.
  • Grandparents can be held liable for child support if their son fathered a child while still a minor.
  • Custodial parents who are no longer on aid are now allowed to collect their child support arrears prior to the state collecting on its assigned arrears.
  • All states are now required to charge interest on the unpaid arrears balance.

In aid cases, the welfare department refers the case to the CSE agency. They then pursue the noncustodial parent to establish paternity, set a current child support order, medical insurance order and possibly reimbursement to the state for cash aid previously paid to the custodial parent for the children. In instances where the children are in foster care, the state will pursue both the mother and the father as noncustodial parents. The basic idea here is that the parents absent from the home in which the child resides should be financially responsible for the care of the children - not the taxpayers. In cases where there is already a child support order in effect, the custodial parent assigns to the state, any and all child support arrears owed to her until he or she discontinues cash aid. At that point, the CSE agency will deduct the amount of "total aid paid" from the arrears owed the custodial parent and the remaining balance, if any, reverts back to the custodial parent. The noncustodial parent then has 2 arrears balances - one owed to the CSE agency to reimburse welfare and one owed to the custodial parent.

Non-Aid Cases differ somewhat. Non-aid custodial parents do not have to assign their child support arrears over to the state since they have never received any welfare assistance. The non-aid custodial parent’s income is used when determining the amount of child support set in the court order. The non-aid custodial parent is free to either waive or reduce arrears and interest or to agree to a lower child support amount than guidelines suggest if he or she chooses. Custodial parents on aid do not have those options available to them.

All custodial parents whether aid or non-aid, should provide the CSE agency with all the necessary information so they can actively pursue the case without delays.

Failure to provide required information will result in long delays. You want to include a copy of any existing court order for child support, a complete payment history, as much locate information on the noncustodial parent as possible, and birth certificates for the children if needed.

Useful Online Tools

Custody, Visitation & Support Modification
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State Specific - Custody/Visitation/Support Modification Forms with Instructions
This software provides all the forms and instructions to modify child custody, visitation and/or child support through the court. The modification software will help you change your court orders to reflect current conditions.

Suggested Reading
Child Support Handbook
Child Support Handbooks
These download books will explain in detail how child support works in your state. It will focus on the rights each father, mother and child has under certain laws, situations, and circumstances, and how child support is calculated using the official state child support guidelines.

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