The Child Support Services 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 Services 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.
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:
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 DCSS'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 DCSS. Additionally, the unit handles prosecution of criminal non-support cases. The Deputy Attorney General (DAG) assigned to the unit review, sign, and prosecute every DCSS generated petition filed through DCSS. Services provided to DCSS include appearances at judicial hearings and legal guidance on case processing.
The Division of Child Support offers administrative hearings to resolve issues as governed by Delaware Administrative Procedures Act. An administrative hearing is not as formal as a Family Court proceeding. DCSS must offer administrative hearings when it takes an administrative enforcement action. Examples of such enforcement actions include:
Parties must request an administrative hearing in writing within the time period stated in the notice of DCSS'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.
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 requires a mandatory annual fee of $35.00 be assessed to IV-D child support cases when the State has collected and disbursed at least $550.00 of support. This annual fee is not to be assessed on TANF or former TANF/AFDC cases. In intergovernmental cases, only the initiating state may collect and report the $35.00 annual fee.
DCSS has elected to collect the annual fee of $35.00 from the CP for each child support case in which he or she has never received TANF assistance. This fee will automatically be deducted from child support payments to the CP after collection and disbursement of $550.00 in each federal fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th). DECSS will automatically put an entry in the case journal each time a fee is deducted
If you have any questions, please contact the DCSS 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: