The Child Support Enforcement Program originated in 1975, when Congress amended Title IV of the Social Security Act by adding a new section "D". This new program, referred to as the "IV-D" Program because of its statutory location, is regulated and funded by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Families and Children. The federal statute can be found at 42 U.S.C. §§ 651 et seq. OCSE regulations for this Program appear in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at Title 45, Parts 301 to 307.
The majority of Delaware's child support enforcement laws appear in the Delaware Code at Title 13, Domestic Regulations. State laws outlining the duties of the Division appear at the Delaware Code Title 13, Chapter 22.
To be eligible to receive federal IV-D funds, a state must establish a "single and separate" organization to operate its child support enforcement program; the Division of Child Support Enforcement is Delaware's "Single State Agency". In addition, federal law requires that participating states provide a uniform level of services and that these services be identified in a "State Plan". The Division maintains a policy and procedures manual to assure compliance with relevant federal and state laws and regulations and State Plan requirements.
Agency Responsibilities and Roles of Partnering Government Agencies
As Delaware's IV-D agency, the Division of Child Support is responsible for providing the services required by the State's IV-D plan. These services include:
- Establishment of paternity
- Establishment of support obligations (financial and medical child support)
- Location of parents
- Enforcement of support obligations
- Modification of support orders
- Collection and distribution of support payments
- Cooperation with other state IV-D agencies in the provision of these services.
The Family Court of the State of Delaware has jurisdiction over all actions to establish paternity and to establish, modify, and enforce child support orders. The court determines the amount of child support using the Delaware Support Calculation (also known as the Melson Formula), taking into consideration both parties incomes and the needs of the children. Either or both parents may be ordered to provide medical support. The court may also order each parent to pay part of the out of pocket medical expenses of the child(ren).
Family Court is the judicial forum for formal dispute resolution, which means mediation and judicial proceedings occur in the Family Court. In addition, the Family Court coordinates genetic testing for cases not handled by DCSE's administrative genetic testing procedures. Commissioners and Judges preside over Family Court proceedings. The Family Court sits in three locations statewide: New Castle, Kent, and Sussex Counties.
The Delaware Department of Justice has a Family Services Division, which includes the Child Support Unit. The Child Support Unit represents the State, through the Division of Child Support, in establishing, modifying, and enforcing child support orders processed by DCSE. Additionally, the unit handles prosecution of criminal non-support cases. The Deputy Attorney General (DAG) assigned to the unit review, sign, and prosecute every DCSE generated petition filed through DCSE. Services provided to DCSE include appearances at judicial hearings and legal guidance on case processing.
The Division of Child Support offers administrative hearings to resolve disputes as governed by Delaware Administrative Procedures Act. An administrative hearing is not as formal as a Family Court proceeding. DCSE must offer administrative hearings when it takes an administrative enforcement action. Examples of such enforcement actions include:
- Federal and State Tax Refund Offset
- Federal Administrative Offset
- Passport Denial
- State Lottery Offset
- Consumer Credit Reporting
- Lien/Levy of Assets
- Administrative Income Withholding
- License Suspension and Denial
- TANF Non-cooperation Sanctions/Good Cause Claims.
Parties must request an administrative hearing in writing within the time period stated in the notice of DCSE's intent to take a proposed enforcement action. Administrative Hearing Section.
An individual may appear for an administrative hearing with, or without, an attorney. A hearing decision is usually issued within five working days after the hearing. A party may appeal the hearing decision to the Family Court within 30 days of the date that the decision was mailed to the parties.
New $25 Annual Fee
The federal law requires DCSE to collect $25.00 once each year from eligible custodians when at least $500 in child support has been received during the year. The year, for collection purposes, follows the federal fiscal year, which is from October 1 to September 30. The initial assessment will be made before September 30, 2007. On October 1, 2007, a new federal fiscal year begins, and your case may be eligible for another yearly assessment.
There is no requirement to send this payment to DCSE to cover the mandatory fee. The fee will be withheld from a future payment in accordance with the guidelines above.
Because the implementation of this fee is mandatory, administrative hearing opportunities will not be afforded.
Be advised that this fee is in addition to the one-time fee charged to non-public assistance applicants who apply for child support services. If you have an interstate case, the state/office that initiated your case will collect the fee.
If you have any questions, please contact the DCSE Customer Service Unit in NCC 577-7171, KC 739-8299, and SC 856-5386. Out of state clients can call 1-800-273-9500 and ask to be connected to the Division of Child Support.
For further information, please also reference: