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Time to look up how Statewide, Centralized “SDU”s Child Support Distribution & Enforcement (all CSE) became subject to Title IV-D/IV-A standard and control

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WORK-IN-PROCESS:

#1 — Exploring other WordPress themes or domains that could present the information better.  I hate in particular the “quote” function and may indicate begin/end quotes differently this time…. Til then, “mea culpa, mea culpa”

#2 — Compiling a state-by-state set of links to address and explain some of these issues, where the Child Support Enforcement becomes an arm of the Federal Government’s welfare law — and controlled by it.

At the bottom of the last post (published today) I happened to run across Texas Legislation creating the centralized state child support enforcement (bureaucracy) and the language stating that IF ANY COUNTY had a Title IV-D contract going, ANY NEW (CHILD SUPPORT) CASES — AND potentially all EXISTING CASES (unless an obligee specifically declined) COULD BE CONSIDERED TITLE IV-D.

No parent receiving public assistance, that i’m aware of, has any right to decline signing over child support to the local county to collect.  That parent loses a significant right in the process, and probably unaware of the implications.  We are living under the old mythology that these are the good guys, and will go collect child support while you take care of your children and seek more work as a single parent, typically.  Nope….

Here’s a little background on how we got “CENTRALIZED STATE DISTRIBUTION UNITS” for child support, from the Congressional Research Service. It dates back to 1996 welfare reform, and in short, the states either complied, or lost their welfare (TANF) funding block grant.  most didn’t want to, so they complied, automating and computerizing where we work, what we earn, and transfer of wealth (income, at least) between families at the federal level.  Considering how recent the entire computer age is, this is amazingly fast transformation of government and managing the “poor” (real and alleged) through an invasive and pervasive technolgy reporting where people live, work and how much they earn (although the IRS supposedly already has this information ,when people report):

“P.L.” stands for “Public Law”:

P.L. 104-193 requires state Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agencies to operate
a centralized automated unit for collection and disbursement of payments on two
categories of child support orders
:

(1) those enforced by the CSE agency and

(2) those  issued or modified on or after January 1, 1994, which are not enforced by the state CSE
agency but for which the noncustodial parent’s income is subject to withholding. The
state disbursement unit generally must use automated procedures, electronic processes,
and computer-driven technology to collect and disburse support payments, to keep an
accurate identification of payments, to promptly disburse money to custodial parents or
other states, and to furnish parents with a record of the current status of support
payments. The collection and disbursement unit provisions went into effect on October 
1, 1998; except that states that processed the receipt of child support payments through 
local courts could continue to process those payments through such courts until 
September 30, 1999. All of the jurisdictions with the October 1, 1998 deadline, with the 
exception of California, are now operating state disbursement units. Information is not
yet officially available with regard to states with the October 1, 1999 deadline. (States 
have until December 31, 1999 to notify the Department of Health and Human Services 
(HHS) as to whether or not they have a centralized disbursement unit.) HHS expects
that California, Nebraska, Ohio and perhaps five or six other states will not meet the
October 1, 1999 deadline. Because of the total loss of CSE funding plus possible loss
of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant funding for states that
are not in compliance with the state disbursement unit requirements, Congress has passed
legislation (H.R. 3194) that would impose a lesser alternative penalty for these states. 


On November 18, 1999, the House passed H.R. 3194, an omnibus appropriations bill,
that contains a provision that would lessen the penalty for states that are not in
compliance with the centralized state disbursement unit requirement. On November 19,
1999, the Senate passed H.R. 3194. This bill was signed into law (P.L. 106-113) on
November 29, 1999. This report will not be updated.

GET THIS:

The state disbursement unit must be operated directly by the state CSE agency, by
two or more state CSE agencies in different states under a regional cooperative agreement,
or by a contractor responsible directly to the state CSE agency.

The disbursement unit must disburse  to custodial parents all amounts payable within 2 business days after receiving the money
from the employer. The disbursement unit may retain arrearages in the case of appeals 
until they are resolved. 

Uh-hmmm.  So, if appeals are encouraged, then it holds onto those arrearages (and accrued interest) which it supposedly/theoretically then accounts for (only many states simply don’t and as I showed last post, HHS isn’t exactly monitoring that too closely, or spanking anyone (at all) if they don’t.  What this tells me (now over 10 years later into these systems) is that there must be plenty of wiggle room between federal and state, or the federal would probably be MUCH more concerned about fraud, waste, and improper reporting, right?  I suspect that a lot of funds get “lost” to various parts of the bureaucracy by mutual consent and tacit understanding that not too much is going to happen.  Consider what, by contrast, would happen to states that didn’t bow the knee to Washington if they didn’t computerize, centralize and work closer with the HHS — they would simply lose their welfare funding!

Hmm….

Costs. If the state is incorporating the collection and disbursement unit into its 
statewide automated CSE system, those costs are eligible for 80% federal matching funds. 
After the state’s share of that enhanced funding is reached, the state can receive the regular  66% federal reimbursement for the costs of the state disbursement unit.

66% of the costs are supported by the “feds.”  So, who are we really serving in these matters then?  Are the public servants int he courts most likely to be driven by the best interests of the children, or a state’s need to keep helping its poor get their welfare and prevent local riots, looting, (or mass starvation) if they don’t?

SOCIAL SECURITY LAW –Section 454 [42 U.S.C 654] —   This is just a running start.  The numbers (1) (2) etc. go up to (34) . . . . .

STATE PLAN FOR CHILD AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT

Sec. 454. [42 U.S.C. 654]  A State plan for child and spousal support must

(1) provide that it shall be in effect in all political subdivisions of the State;

(2) provide for financial participation by the State;

(3) provide for the establishment or designation of a single and separate organizational unit, which meets such staffing and organizational requirements as the Secretary {i.e., of HHS} may by regulation prescribe, within the State to administer the plan;

(4) provide that the State will—

(A) provide services relating to the establishment of paternityor the establishment, modification, or enforcement of child support obligations, as appropriate, under the plan with respect to—

(i) each child for whom (I) assistance is provided under the State program funded under part A of this title{{That means, I believe, welfare, i.e. Title IV-A}}, (II) benefits or services for foster care maintenance are provided under the State program funded under part E of this title, (III) medical assistance is provided under the State plan approved under title XIX, or (IV) cooperation is required pursuant to section 6(l)(1) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 2015(l)(1))[136], unless, in accordance with paragraph (29), good cause or other exceptions exist;

(ii) any other child, if an individual applies for such services with respect to the child; and

(i) basically means, any child receiving some kind of state benefits, whether welfare, or in foster care, or on Title XIX medical assistance, or (barring certain exceptions) receiving “food stamps” and (ii) means, anyone else whose parent(s) want in on this….

(B) enforce any support obligation established with respect to—

(i) a child with respect to whom the State provides services under the plan; or

(ii) the custodial parent of such a child;

The State is to enforce the child support obligation regarding the child, and the custodial parent of the child.  (Child & Spousal support, i.e.)

(5) provide that (A) in any case in which support payments are collected for an individual with respect to whom an assignment pursuant to section 408(a)(3) is effective, such payments shall be made to the State for distribution pursuant to section 457 and shall not be paid directly to the family, and the individual will be notified on a monthly basis (or on a quarterly basis for so long as the Secretary determines with respect to a State that requiring such notice on a monthly basis would impose an unreasonable administrative burden) of the amount of the support payments collected, and (B) in any case in which support payments are collected for an individual pursuant to the assignment made under section 1912, such payments shall be made to the State for distribution pursuant to section 1912, except that this clause shall not apply to such payments for any month after the month in which the individual ceases to be eligible for medical assistance;

Section 408(a)(3) means — if the state helps you with (cash aid or food stamps, possibly medical costs?) — you MUST assign child support collection rights to the state.  They don’t want to help you if the father or other parent is already paying you — you might be a crook,, lying, or defrauding the government, right?  So, to protect this system — the first thing a person receiving FOOD to keep (her) kids fed after, say, leaving a bad situation — or having an absent father or not establishing a financial relationship with the father of the parent if, for example, that wouldn’t be wise — is to give up some rights.  Give it up — Big Brother will go after the child support (or not, or compromise it, or  . . .. etc.) but you don’t get to both collect child support (however small) AND receive food stamp aid.  Here’s the section it links to:

(3)[50] No assistance for families not assigning certain support rights to the state.—A State to which a grant is made under section 403 shall require, as a condition of paying assistance to a family under the State program funded under this part, that a member of the family assign to the State any right the family member may have (on behalf of the family member or of any other person for whom the family member has applied for or is receiving such assistance) to support from any other person, not exceeding the total amount of assistance so paid to the family, which accrues during the period that the family receives assistance under the program.

In practice, I think that these cases continue to be called “Title IV-D” long after any family may be no longer receiving state assistance.  Perhaps some families don’t know to in writing terminate the status…..

There is an exception if a person has been battered — but the state must limit this to no more than 20% of the people seeking such TANF help, even if (as has been reported elsewhere) up to 45% of the families would meet this criteria — as physical and economic abuse often go together where there is cohabitation/marriage.  There is a Hardship Exemption for assigning rights to the states so it can go after the fathers (or mothers, but this is aimed at fathers;  see “paternity” clauses):

(7) No assistance for more than 5 years. {“(whether or not consecutive)”}—  (A), (B),
(C) Hardship exception.—

(i) In general.—The State may exempt a family from the application of subparagraph (A) by reason of hardship or if the family includes an individual who has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty.

(ii) Limitation.—The average monthly number of families with respect to which an exemption made by a State under clause (i) is in effect for a fiscal year shall not exceed 20 percent of the average monthly number of families to which assistance is provided under the State program funded under this part during the fiscal year or the immediately preceding fiscal year (but not both), as the State may elect.

There are quota limits on being subjected to extreme cruelty or battering.  Make sure one does not apply for help when the previous year, too many others did, relative to the entire welfare population….

(iii) Battered or subject to extreme cruelty defined.—For purposes of clause (i), an individual has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty if the individual has been subjected to—

(I) physical acts that resulted in, or threatened to result in, physical injury to the individual;

(II) sexual abuse;

(III) sexual activity involving a dependent child;

(IV) being forced as the caretaker relative of a dependent child to engage in nonconsensual sexual acts or activities;

(V) threats of, or attempts at, physical or sexual abuse;

(VI) mental abuse; or

(VII) neglect or deprivation of medical care.

This gets kind of interesting — but it represents the nationwide centralization of child support units to a SINGLE state distribution agency, the establishment of incentive payments to the states (I don’t know the previous arrangement, but this one apparently began at 80% for states complying wholesale (i.e., states that actually wanted to continue having the U.S. Government continue to pay welfare & medicaid help to their populations, which is basically ALL states, from what i can tell) — and then was reducted to approximately 66% of costs.  When you have a Federal 66% and State 34% relationship (to costs), this means in a local state anyone whose child support order really comes under these programs (i.e., wage assignments or welfare is at all involved, or people who get innocently sucked into the concept that the Child SUpport Enforcement apparatus exists primarily for — Child SUpport Enforcement) — is going to be REALLY dealing with FEDERAL policies (at the rate of $2 to every $1 state — right? (See %s).  . . ..

I was shocked to discover this initially.  I got to a COUNTY level superior court, learn its rules, learn my state codes.  But I was unaware — entirely unaware — that the FEDERAL policy and take on anyone asking for a little help immediately after a very abusive relationship — OR anyone walking into a local child support agency for enforcement help, rather than hiring a private attorney instead — is going to basically be dealing with the welfare-based system run at the HHS level.

And this level has been re-tooled to accommodate fatherhood and blames abuse poverty, and basically all social “sin” (cf.  “Eve” in the Bible)  on the lack of a biological father in the family home!  In order to function at a local level, one has to become HHS-wise.  How many hours are available in the average single parent’s home who has a divorce and is trying to provide the best things possible (according to whatever budget) for her kids, hopefully entrance to a college education and/or a solvent, safe future?

Here’s another factoid, oir rather 3 of them (22- 25) from this US Code Section 454:

(22) in order for the State to be eligible to receive any incentive payments under section 458, *** provide that, if one or more political subdivisions of the State participate in the costs of carrying out activities under the State plan during any period, each such subdivision shall be entitled to receive an appropriate share (as determined by the State) of any such incentive payments made to the State for such period, taking into account the efficiency and effectiveness of the activities carried out under the State plan by such political subdivision;

The State cannot be mean and hog or hoard all the incentive payments, but actually distribute them to the various (counties) (“political subdivisions”) which go along with the plan, here.   However if the State determines (or feels) that these have not been GOOD boys and girls (counties) as ot child support enforcement and etc. practices, it may choose NOT to pass on the incentive payments.  Hmmm…

(***More on Section 458, below (after #25) — it’s relevant we might as well go over the material now)>

(23) provide that the State will regularly and frequently publicize, through public service announcements, the availability of child support enforcement services under the plan and otherwise, {{and otherwise??}} including information as to any application fees for such services and a telephone number or postal address at which further information may be obtained and will publicize the availability and encourage the use of procedures for voluntary establishment of paternity and child support by means the State deems appropriate;

Basically, the Federal Government has become the controlling interest at the Superior Court level when it comes to child support, and is going to solicit more business for itself in this manner.  As the Federal Government is to be “of, by and for the people” (yeah, sure) I find this odd that the people are coming increasingly under distant control of their daily lives….       I have seen plenty of this advertising over the years –and it is definitely (in our area at least) aimed at NONcustodial parents, which I found interesting.    Alternately, the states could just say goodbye to welfare assistance….

(24) provide that the State will have in effect an automated data processing and information retrieval system—

(A) by October 1, 1997, which meets all requirements of this part which were enacted on or before the date of enactment of the Family Support Act of 1988,

(B) by October 1, 2000, which meets all requirements of this part enacted on or before the date of the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996[142], except that such deadline shall be extended by 1 day for each day (if any) by which the Secretary fails to meet the deadline imposed by section 344(a)(3) of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996;

(25) provide that if a family with respect to which services are provided under the plan ceases to receive assistance under the State program funded under part A, the State shall provide appropriate notice to the family and continue to provide such services, subject to the same conditions and on the same basis as in the case of other individuals to whom services are furnished under the plan, except that an application or other request to continue services shall not be required of such a family and paragraph (6)(B) {which relates to fees….} shall not apply to the family

I know this is a lot to handle (it is for me too, incidentally)…..

INCENTIVE PAYMENTS TO STATES (SECTION 458 — see (22), just above, which refers to this)

(SIT DOWN, this one takes a little computation..and has some new jargon:..)

Sec. 458. [42 U.S.C. 658a](a) In General.—In addition to any other payment under this part, the Secretary {{of HHS, who else?}} shall, subject to subsection (f), make an incentive payment to each State for each fiscal year in an amount determined under subsection (b).

(b) Amount of Incentive Payment.—

(1) In general.—The incentive payment for a State for a fiscal year is equal to the incentive payment pool for the fiscal year, multiplied by the State incentive payment share for the fiscal year.

INCENTIVE PAYMENT (IP, let me call it “IP$” which it represents) = Incentive Payment Pool, as legislated into $$ figures, below,  for that fiscal year (IPP — meaning the NATIONWIDE Pool) X Incentive Payment Share (IPS, or basically %).  The states are thereby competing with each other for some water from this pool...

IP$ = IPP for the USA X Your State’s IP%.

(2) Incentive payment pool.—  (What I called “IPP”)

(A) In general.—In paragraph (1), the term “incentive payment pool” means

(i) $422,000,000 for fiscal year 2000;   FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-TWO MILLION

(ii) $429,000,000 for fiscal year 2001;   FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE MILLION = +7

(iii) $450,000,000 for fiscal year 2002;  FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY MILION = +21 (3-fold increase, i.e. 7X3)

(iv) $461,000,000 for fiscal year 2003;   FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE MILLION + 11 million (less of an increase)

(v) $454,000,000 for fiscal year 2004;     FOUR HUNRED FIFTY-FOUR MILLION (a decrease… huh…)   – 7 million

(vi) $446,000,000 for fiscal year 2005;   FOUR HUNDRED FORTY-SIX MILLION  (another decrease) – 8 million

(vii) $458,000,000 for fiscal year 2006;   FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY-EIGHT MILLION (an unexplained increase) +12 million.  You tell me why — I’m clueless what’s so special about the year 2006…..

(viii) $471,000,000 for fiscal year 2007;  FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY-ONE MILLION (highest yet)  + 13 million

(ix) $483,000,000 for fiscal year 2008; and  FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY-THREE MILLION (ditto).    + only 12 million again.

(x) for any succeeding fiscal year, the amount of the incentive payment pool for the fiscal year that precedes such succeeding fiscal year, multiplied by the percentage (if any) by which the CPI for such preceding fiscal year exceeds the CPI for the second preceding fiscal year.

OK, about here, my attention (or desire to figure this out) just flagged.  After all, it’s government prophetic economics 102.

(B) CPI.—For purposes of subparagraph (A), the CPI for a fiscal year is the average of the Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period ending on September 30 of the fiscal year. As used in the preceding sentence, the term “Consumer Price Index” means the last Consumer Price Index for all-urban consumers published by the Department of Labor.

(3) State incentive payment share.—In paragraph (1), the term “State incentive payment share” means, with respect to a fiscal year—

(A) the incentive base amount for the State for the fiscal year; divided by

(B) the sum of the incentive base amounts for all of the States for the fiscal year.

BASE AMOUNTs per state lead to a series of charts for determining how good the SDU has been, or rather, the States have been, with these federally-set goals from Social Security Administration law:

What is an “INCENTIVE BASE AMOUNT”?  Basically, another thing that TITLE IV-D & IV-A are going to judge the State by, kind of reminds me of elementary school….

(4) Incentive base amount.—In paragraph (3), the term “incentive base amount” means, with respect to a State and a fiscal year, the sum of the applicable percentages (determined in accordance with paragraph (6)) multiplied by the corresponding maximum incentive base amounts for the State for the fiscal year, with respect to each of the following measures of State performance for the fiscal year:

(A) The paternity establishment performance level.

(B) The support order performance level.

(C) The current payment performance level.

(D) The arrearage payment performance level.

(E) The cost–effectiveness performance level.

IN SHORT, these are things that the Federal Government, in administering welfare and regulating Child Support (as part of PRWORA, aimed at eliminating welfare) has determined IT cares about.

While a decent parent cares about how their children are doing, including do they get to eat, attend decent schools, have reasonably healthy values — and violence towards other human beings or attempt to control micro-manage one’s partner as if one’s partner were an infant, or incompetent, or simply a bad person is definitely NOT a healthy value — this bureaucracy obviously mistrusts the common man, and the States, in particular anyone receiving state assistance (although a serious attempt is made here to make ALL child support cases in to welfare-style cases) — so IT is concerned about A, B, C, D, & E, above.

I’m NOT quite sure I understand this right, but it seems to me that of the total cases approved under this plan (regardless of the year?) the “applicable percentage” (that could increase or decrease $$ to your individual STate), the MORE CHILD SUPPORT CASES OPEN THIS YEAR< THE MORE INCENTIVE PAYMENT TO THE STATES: THERE IS AN INCENTIVE TO ESTABLISH CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – UNDER THIS WELFARE-BASED SYSTEM:

(B) Establishment of child support orders.—

(i) Determination of support order performance level.—The support order performance level for a State for a fiscal year is the percentage of the total number of cases under the State plan approved under this part in which there is a support order during the fiscal year.

(ii) Determination of applicable percentage.—The applicable percentage with respect to a State’s support order performance level is as follows:

If the support order performance level is: The applicable percentage is:
At least: But less than:
80% 100
79% 80% 98
78% 79% 96
77% 78% 94
76% 77% 92
75% 76% 90
74% 75% 88
73% 74% 86
72% 73% 84
71% 72% 82
70% 71% 80
69% 70% 79
68% 69% 78
67% 68% 77
66% 67% 76
65% 66% 75
64% 65% 74
63% 64% 73
62% 63% 72
61% 62% 71
60% 61% 70
59% 60% 69
58% 59% 68
57% 58% 67
56% 57% 66
55% 56% 65
54% 55% 64
53% 54% 63
52% 53% 62
51% 52% 61
50% 51% 60
0% 50% 0.

LOOK AT THIS INCENTIVE CHARTS (THERE ARE OTHERS, I JUST PICKED TWO): —

INCENTIVE PAYMENTS TO ARTIFICIALLY TINKER WITH (I.E. “COMPROMISE OR REDUCE”) ARREARAGES

(D) Collections on child support arrearages.—

(i) Determination of arrearage payment performance level.—The arrearage payment performance level for a State for a fiscal year is equal to the total number of cases under the State plan approved under this part in which payments of past–due child support were received during the fiscal year and part or all of the payments were distributed to the family to whom the past–due child support was owed (or, if all past–due child support owed to the family was, at the time of receipt, subject to an assignment to the State, part or all of the payments were retained by the State) divided by the total number of cases under the State plan in which there is past–due child support, expressed as a percentage.

(ii) Determination of applicable percentage.—The applicable percentage with respect to a State’s arrearage payment performance level is as follows:

If the support order performance level is: The applicable percentage is:
At least: But less than:
80% 100
79% 80% 98
78% 79% 96
77% 78% 94
76% 77% 92
75% 76% 90
74% 75% 88
73% 74% 86
72% 73% 84
71% 72% 82
70% 71% 80
69% 70% 79
68% 69% 78
67% 68% 77
66% 67% 76
65% 66% 75
64% 65% 74
63% 64% 73
62% 63% 72
61% 62% 71
60% 61% 70
59% 60% 69
58% 59% 68
57% 58% 67
56% 57% 66
55% 56% 65
54% 55% 64
53% 54% 63
52% 53% 62
51% 52% 61
50% 51% 60
49% 50% 59
48% 49% 58
47% 48% 57
46% 47% 56
45% 46% 55
44% 45% 54
43% 44% 53
42% 43% 52
41% 42% 51
40% 41% 50
0% 40% 0.

Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, if the arrearage payment performance level of a State for a fiscal year is less than 40 percent but exceeds by at least 5 percentage points the arrearage payment performance level of the State for the immediately preceding fiscal year, then the applicable percentage with respect to the State’s arrearage payment performance level is 50 percent.

HOW THIS CAN WORK IN PRACTICE:   A little birdie (i.e., acquaintance) told me of a case where the visitation was 60/40 one parent to the other (not too bad an arrangement right?) with the mother being custodial 60% and receiving some child support payments, not too much I gather.  The case was then switched — 100% custody to the father, his child support case closed (he’s 100% custodial now, right) and a NEW ONE opened where she pays.

This increases that state’s % favorably — they just established a “new” child support order.  I’m sure it wasn’t an isolated case.

Or, if an arrears is exceptionally high AND a custody switch AND compromise of arrears (which maybe were unreasonably high to start with) can be made — that’s a double-delight:  new child support case, and greater % of arrears paid, right? (of course the AMOUNT of arrears was lowered to up the %, but hey … it’s all in how one allocates it on the books)….

Imagine who this might (and trust me — does!) play out with a totally naive parent, who doesn’t know about the incentive payment system factor, and actually hopes that the Child SupportEnforcement system is focused on the children — and not gyrating to the frequency of these parameters –she (most likely) will have probablyo adjusted lifestyle as possible to accommodate an existing child support order, whether or not it’s being complied with — and suddenly (in the middle of a school year, a rental lease period, or any carefully balanced arrangement of her work schedule, children’s school and or after school activities, living situation, transportation, etc. — that takes a lot of planning and juggling — and suddenly the “system” determines it’s better to switch custody, bill her for child support (after she loses in court, probably running into some of the access-visitation enabled personnel) – and the children, and associated others, are exposed to this chaos — while they go into court and Mom is insulted for protesting, i.e., being a “high-conflict” family per AFCC standards.

Just even not knowing the various elements at play make it a Russian Roulette situation..

And, to cap it all off — the HHS is apparently not paying very close attention to what states are doing with their advances, or their undistributable collections, anyhow.  Do we really want the entire nations’ workforce on this child support grid? (consider the “New Hire” information — any employer just might happen to be hiring a deadbeat parent, so they must report ALL new hires not just as part of their Tax filings, but also to the state Distribution Unit — although this unit is almost totally ineffective at the underground economy which received a major boost, I’m sure, resulting directly from its oppressive presence!)

END OF SECTION ON “INCENTIVE PAYMENTS”, below here is miscellaneous commentary on the SDU _- Statewide Distribution Unit — overall.

The state wants to continue as if the family is Title IV-A (receiving assistance) when in fact, it is not.  Title IV-D (this act, basically) cases are flagged and handled differently IN THE COURTS — specifically BECAUSE so many other related court programs (and their funding) can be called into play, making the landscape a virtual set of land mines and hidden trenches…

CHILD SUPPORT in most states is now centrally disbursed.  As California’s website affirms:

Today child support payments are collected and processed by a single entity – the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU). Required by federal law, the SDU processes 100% of child support payments that used to be handled at the Local Child Support Agencies.

Alongside this SDU site sometimes is helpfully posted how to get one’s child support arrears “compromised” _- which I wish I’d known about a few years ago; this one is from El Dorado County, CA.   Shouldn’t the primary caretaking parent (where there is one) be informed of this at the local facilitator’s office, where I guarantee some of them are found from time to time seeking help of one sort or another surrounding custody matters?

Compromise of Arrears Program

If you owe child support arrears to the state, you may qualify for the Compromise of Arrears Program. In order to be eligible for this program you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must complete the necessary application forms.
  • You do not have the ability to pay all the child support arrears and interest you owe within the next three years ** without a compromise.
  • You have the ability to pay a reduced arrears amount, plus any support and arrears owed to the custodial party within three years.
  • If you owe current child support, you must pay the current support.
  • You have not been convicted, nor had a contempt finding for failure to pay child support in the last six months.
Consider:  Any TANF cases would have to prosecute (file a contempt order) themselves, if the local agency simply declines to do this, which it frequently does…. How many people legitimately on TANF can afford private attorneys to prosecute child support contempts, or know how to do it themselves, including ferreting out income, filing subpoenas, showing up in court in one piece, etc.?
  • You must owe the government {{note:  not the other parent…}}  at least $501.00 in child support arrears. (which is almost nothing!)
  • You have not stopped paying child support in anticipation of this program.
  • You do not conceal or misrepresent your income and/or assets.
    You have not had an agreement denied in the last year.
  • You have not had an agreement rescinded in the last two years.

State Compromise of Arrears Program

I’m not sure this is current — and just posting it as a “clue” – it appears to predate the Y2K scare, but indeed, 2000 was the year in California the system began to switch from the District Attorney’s offices (for enforcement) to a separate agency.   I’ll just bold interesting terms:

CALIFORNIA WELFARE AND INSTITUTIONS CODE:

10080. (a) The Legislature finds and declares the following:

(1) The failure of the Statewide Automated Child Support System (SACSS) has left California without a statewide automated child support system as required by federal law and subjects the state to  significant federal penalties. 

The federal stick…..

(2) Statewide uniformity of child support enforcement practices and procedures is essential to an effective child support enforcement
program.

Probably true, at least to be fair — face it, divorcing separating parents don’t always hang around in the same counties, for good reasons…
(3) A single statewide automated child support system promotes uniformity and supports a child support collection system that keeps
children out of poverty and reduces welfare costs. Successful implementation of a single statewide child support system is critical
to the welfare of California and its children.

{{Seeing as some District Attorneys have been caught cheating parents of collected funds already……}}
(4) The federal government has informed the state that the proposed consortia-based alternative system configuration submitted
by the state for approval does not meet the criteria required by federal law.

(5) The federal government has informed the state that it intendsto disapprove the state’s child support (Title IV-D) plan because the
state has  failed to timely implement a State Disbursement Unit as required by federal law. Disapproval of the state IV-D plan may
result in the state’s ineligibility for a federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant under Title IV-A of
the Social Security Act jeopardizing the receipt of billions of dollars of federal funds.

I THINK IT”S PRETTY CLEAR WHO’S HOLDING THE TRUMP CARD IN THIS SITUATION . . .. AND IT”S NOT CALIFORNIA….

(b) It is, therefore, the intent of the Legislature to:
(1) Establish a single statewide automated child support system
that complies with all federal certification requirements, federal
and state laws and policies, meets Year 2000 requirements, and
ensures child support collections will continue to increase.
(2) Ensure that all counties will have an automation system that
will allow them to continue their child support services while a
single statewide automated child support system is developed and
implemented.
(3) Designate the Franchise Tax Board, as an agent for the
department, as the entity responsible for the procurement,
development, implementation, and maintenance of the single statewide
automated system in accordance with the state’s child support (Title
IV-D) plan.
(4) Ensure that the single statewide automated system project will
be completed successfully and in the most expeditious manner
possible through the cooperation of all affected state agencies.

(5) Ensure county participation and compliance with the single
statewide automated system by providing for the sharing of federal
penalties.

{{i.e., “Pass It On” applies to the federal-to-state pressure….}}
(6) Avoid the repetition of the practices that led to the failure of the SACSS system and to require the department to ensure that
procedures are in place to prevent the repetition of those practices.

AND SO FORTH . . . .

Found some notes in North Dakota, 1998, that showed a nonprofit called “R-KIDS” (Fargo Chapter of MN-based nonprofit) was in hearings about child support switching to the SDU model:

http://www.rkids.org/TITLE_IV-D___Child_Suppo.html

  • R-KIDS is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating law makers, family law professionals and the public with regard to family law and social services and their effects on children, families, and the consequences to the taxpayer.
  • Our main concern is for our community of children of divorced, separated, or unwed families. We believe that children need, want and deserve the love, support and involvement of both parents regardless of marital status.
  • Founded in 1985, our membership is comprised of both moms and dads, custodial and non-custodial parents, grandparents, stepparents, and professionals such as social workers, doctors, attorneys, and family law practitioners.
  • It is the objective of R-KIDS to develop equitable family law legislation in an effort to improve the lives of all Minnesota children.

“ALL CHILDREN NEED BOTH PARENTS AND ALL GRANDPARENTS IN THEIR LIVES”

  • Unless those affected by the current family law system voice an opinion and demand positive change, we and our children will continue to suffer. This change will not occur without your help! Legislators and family law professionals need to hear from; parents, grandparents, and constituents. Until they do, things will not change.
This definitely sounds like a fathers-oriented group, although it’s incorporating grandparents:

R-KIDS Issues and Concerns

  1. The needs of children to have frequent and meaningful contact with both parents.**
  2. The lack of effective consequences for denied visitation or parental interference.
  3. Consideration of the financial and emotional responsibility of both parents to provide for their children equally.**
  4. Dissemination of information to the public about current family law issues and the long term consequences for our children, families and the tax payer.
  5. The harmful impact of out-of-state or long distance relocation on the parent- child relationship.
  6. Fair and equitable sharing of child support responsibilities which takes into consideration the financial needs of children in second families, as well. **
  7. The negative impact of the adversarial court system and social services upon divorcing families with children.
  8. Removal of the myth perpetuated in our judicial and family law professional systems that only mothers are nurturing and fathers are financial providers.
  9. Accountability for the use of child support.
  10. The impact of the no-fault divorce system on families with children and the need for effective education for parents considering marriage, separation, or divorce.

**That’s not particularly true when the cause of the divorce was child abuse or domestic violence, or habitual drug use, or any other criminal behavior!  I don’t know this group, but here they are, participating in a hearing (long ago) about the centralized child support system. The second families comment is typical of a remarried father’s concern…. as is use of child support; I know plenty of mothers paying child support, and not one has indicated a concern about the usage, even through the relationship had prior abuse issues.  Guess the abuse is more of a concern….

We can see from this site that 3 representatives from R-KIDS (which is based on MN, but has a ND chapter, or did in 1998) are in on the Legislative meeting from North Dakota on implementing the statewide distribution system:

NORTH DAKOTA LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
Minutes of the CHILD SUPPORT COMMITTEE

Monday, June 22, 1998
Roughrider Room, State Capitol
Bismarck, North Dakota

Representative Eliot Glassheim, Chairman, called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.

Members present: Representatives Eliot Glassheim, Wesley R. Belter, William R. Devlin, April Fairfield, George Keiser, Amy N. Kliniske, Sally Sandvig; Senators Dwight C. Cook, Joel C. Heitkamp, Donna L. Nalewaja, John T. Traynor

Members absent: Representatives Linda Christenson, Dale L. Henegar, Jim Torgerson

Others present: Daniel Biesheuvel, R-KIDS, Bismarck
Bill Kerzmann, Bismarck
Arnie Fleck, Wheeler Wolf Law Firm, Bismarck
Susan Beehler, R-KIDS, Mandan
Bonnie Palecek, Bismarck
Sherry Moore, Bismarck
Bill Strate, Department of Human Services, Bismarck
Philip Papineau, R-KIDS, Fargo

. . . STUDY OF THE PROVISION OF CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT

Chairman Glassheim called on Mr. Bill Strate, Director, Child Support Enforcement, Department of Human Services, for comments regarding the status of the implementation of the child support state disbursement unit and the proposed content of child support annual summaries.

Mr. Strate said in order to take full advantage of economies of scale and to ensure a timely turnaround of payments, automation is the key to child support. He said conversion of IV-D child support cases to the fully automated child support enforcement system (FACSES) has been under way since January 1998 and is over 90 percent complete. The child support distribution changes and the design and planning necessary for implementation of the state disbursement unit, he said, have been under way since 1997 and are projected to be completed and tested by late summer 1998, at which time the conversion from the clerks of court to the state disbursement unit can begin.

It sounds like they were asking some intelligent question.  I am wondering where was anyone involved in women’s issues or mother’s issues at this meeting: surely the group has some DV outfits, right?

Mr. Strate said the annual report an obligee receives from the state disbursement unit will differ from the annual report an obligor receives. He said a child support obligee will receive a monthly report anytime a child support payment is retained by the state. This report, he said, will provide a breakdown of collections for the month and show how the collections were distributed, and this report will serve as the basis for the annual report each obligee will receive.

Mr. Strate said child support obligors who are not under income withholding will receive a monthly billing statement. He said the information from this statement will serve as a basis for the annual report each obligor will receive.

In response to a question from Senator Traynor, Mr. Strate said new hire reporting went into effect October 1, 1997. He said although specific statistics are not yet available regarding the effectiveness of the employer new hire reporting, child support enforcement collections indicate a 17 percent increase since the new hire requirements went into effect. Employers have been very cooperative, and new hire reporting outreach is being performed, he said, in the form of fliers included in state agency mailings to employers. He said approximately 55 percent of the employers report via facsimile, 20 percent via on-line communication, and 25 percent via the United States mail. Mr. Strate said he is not certain whether federal money will be available for future maintenance of the state disbursement unit system.

In response to questions from Senator Nalewaja, Mr. Strate said child support collection from obligors who are self-employed or underemployed raises unique problems that are difficult to address

It seems obvious that SOME parents divorcing or separating my fun businesses, or function as contractors; it’s a no-brainer if someone intends to dodge paying support, to avoid situations where one’s wages might be garnished.  Funny how these situations seem so “exceptional” (to this date)…..As they were also switching from one model to another of ASSESSING child support (I don’t fully understand these differences, but they are income shares model vs. obligor model.”  Note that the system was not prepared to accommodate this, either:

Chairman Glassheim called on Mr. Strate for comments regarding the costs associated with changing to an income shares child support guidelines model. Mr. Strate reviewed the written testimony he provided to the committee on February 10, 1998, and said the cost to the child support enforcement program of a change to an income shares model would be between $168,750 and $187,500 per year. He said the majority of this amount would be incurred by the counties due to an increase in the work associated with establishing and reviewing orders. He said it is difficult to estimate the cost upon the judiciary and private litigants, although the short-term impact would likely be significant because the transition would result in an increase in child support litigation because one party would perceive an advantage under the new model. Mr. Strate provided written testimony, a copy of which is on file in the Legislative Council office.

In response to a question from Representative Belter, Mr. Strate said only one case comparison was prepared for this meeting; however, at previous meetings multiple hypotheticals were presented using the Utah child support guidelines which illustrate a variety of income situations.

In response to a question from Senator Heitkamp, Mr. Strate said both the obligor model and the income shares model may have problems in dealing equitably with exceptional cases.  (ETC.)

Here’s a PDF from “FIRSTDATA.com” (who is one of the coordinators of the SDU apparently) describing the situation:

THE CHALLENGE

In August 1996, the federal Personal responsibility and Work opportunity reconciliation Act (PrWorA) was signed into law. the sweeping legislation included a mandate that each state was to create a centralized location to process all child support payments by october 1, 1998.

By 2004, California had yet to meet PrWorA’s requirement for centralized payment processing, nor had it met the Family support Act of 1988 requirement for a statewide case management system. As a result, the state had accumulated nearly $1 billion in federal fines. California needed to come into compliance—quickly.

That’s my California, the “Golden State.” ……

THE SOLUTION

When California selected Bank of America to head up its compliance initiative, First Data was brought in as a primary project partner. in this role, First Data helped to build and manage the California state Disbursement unit (CA sDu), a key component of the California Child support Automated system (CCsAs) implemented by the Department of Child support services. the solution was to be comprehensive. unlike some other states, California chose to outsource nearly every component of the child support payment process. CA sDu became part of the largest state IT outsourcing project in the history of California. And from collections, suspense, reconciliation, disbursements and reporting to the call center, interactive Voice response (iVr) system, Web site and client outreach, First Data helped create and manage every component of CA sDu.

HEre’s another California’s county’s description of how various  Child Support Cases are covered under the “SDU” system:

PAYMENTS ARE CREDITED AS OF THE DATE THE PAYMENT IS RECEIVED AT THE SDU. If the payment is not received by the SDU by the last day of the month, interest will accrue on the unpaid balance. ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE SENT DIRECTLY TO THE SDU.

The centralization of payment processing offers direct deposit of disbursements from the SDU and electronic transfer of payments to the SDU. The SDU has an electronic help desk to provide assistance to custodial parties, non-custodial parents, employers and other states using electronic processes to make or receive payments. For more information about electronic transfer of payments, please contact the SDU Electronic Help Desk at 1-866-325-1010 or visit the SDU website.

All child support payments must be sent to and disbursed by the SDU. This includes ALL payments currently paid by wage assignment and sent by employers directly to custodial parties (known as NON-IV-D cases, these are cases which are NOT currently open in a local child support office). Payments received by the SDU will be allocated between all of a non-custodial parent’s obligations, which will include IV-D cases (cases open in a local child support office) as well as non-IV-D child support cases.

Any such monopoly resents competition from parents who can work out their own difficulties….

Employers who may have wanted to send direct to custodial parents (not that I’d think many would wish the burden) aren’t allowed to do so anyhow.  This unit is invading their territory as well and affecting, possibly, how disgruntled a particular employee (father) may be in the workplace too.  I imagine it may have some workplace safety side-effects….

So — the key is “wage assignment.”  If child support is paid VOLUNTARILY and ON TIME by the father (or mother) and has not required force/enforcement through wage garnishment, then this incentivized system (I believe) can be avoided.   If not, then

The SDU allocates child support payments to all of a non-custodial parent’s cases. If a non-custodial parent has more than one child support case, any payment received may be divided among all the cases. How the payment is allocated between the cases depends on many things, such as whether or not the payment is for current support or for past-due child support, the amount of child support owed, the payment source, and the amount of the payment.

How sweet.  If your baby’s Dad has participated in “Multiple-partner fertility activities” — the state will prioritize her/their children’s well-being with yours by some formula probably only known to them.

I actually had some money disappear “electronically” — the father sent in the full amount.  The CS agency said that, in a previous month (without my knowledge) it had wrongfully allocated part of someone else’s to me? However, when I came into the office about this, I was told (in their jargon) that the system had to corrects its own virtual/electronic/allocation error by taking REAL money the REAL father REALLY submitted to pay child support our REAL kids — and not much I could do about it, without a tape recorder on in the office.  And if I’d had that tape recorder on, I probably wouldn’t have learned that much. …..  The person I spoke to and I seemed to comprehend that both of us were, indeed, speaking different languages — however as her office had the money, that language prevailed, not reason, i.e., this time Dad sent the whole amount — and you split it up without warning and re-allocated it to someone else, a stranger?

Then again, who knows – maybe it was a kickback….

Information about your case is confidential. Confidentiality and privacy laws restrict child support workers from providing information to anyone who is not a participant in a case. Your child support office can provide information to you ONLY about YOUR CASE. We cannot provide any information to you about any other individual’s case nor can we provide anyone else information about your case.

IS it?  Are these laws complied with (some reports say no — privateers, private contractors enforcing child support —  compromise privacy, and guess what – the entire US is already under U.S. Patriot law, so if someone is snooping, you wouldn’t be informed anyhow).

DEBIT CARD OR NO DEBIT CARD? FOR PAYMENTS?

Here’s “choice,” Child SUpport Style (in my state):

IF YOU RECEIVE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS:

Custodial parties have three ways to receive payments. Payments may be received as checks sent through the mail, as a direct deposit to an existing checking or savings account, or as funds transferred to an electronic payment card (known as EPC). Electronic payment cards work as debit cards and can be used at ATMs and for point-of-sale transactions.

If you receive payment through the mail, the check will be printed on green check stock. The envelope and the return address will be from the SDU. To avoid delays, please be sure to provide any change of address to Alameda County DCSS promptly. If your address has changed, please e-mail us your current mailing address. Please include your ACDCSS case number or participant ID and the new address in the “Comments” section of the e-mail form below:

Checks = delays, more trips to the bank.  Direct Deposit — some like, some do not.  Some banks don’t take direct deposit unless account holder is in traditional workforce.  People involved in custody litigation, the drawn-out kind, often are subject to job instability as well, meaning, they may not qualify.  Then there is the handy/dandy debit card where, if one is a custodial parent, the state can also track exactly what the money goes for — not that the father is likely to get this information.  It’s just the innate, instinctive desire to collect data about everything on as many people as possible.

TEXAS FAMILY CODE CHAPTER 234: ; “State Case Registry, Disbursement Unit and Directory of New Hires

Written by Let's Get Honest

July 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm

One Response

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  1. As usual, here is my Post-post-publication commentary, more information I found:

    Illinois relates several problems they had — IMMEDIATELY — with the SDU;
    This is from the state housing CHICAGO — which has the worlds’ largest Unified Court system, and whose county clerks (I believe I posted this in July, or possibly June 2011) process $$ the basic equivalent of a Fortune 500 company…. It’s huge.

    And they didn’t phase in the SDU, or test it, nor was it even contracted for on a timely fashion; the contract had to become retroactive. The first thing that happened when it was up and running — an immediate backlog of “undistributable” payments! (What a mess).

    – – – — — –

    http://www.auditor.illinois.gov/Audit-Reports/Performance-Special-Multi/Performance-Audits/FY00-IDPA-SDU-MGMT-digest.htm

    REPORT CONCLUSIONS

    The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 amended the Social Security Act to require states to operate a centralized state disbursement unit (SDU) to handle the collection and disbursement of payments under child support orders. Pursuant to federal law, Illinois’ SDU was required to be in place and operational by October 1, 1999. Prior to implementation of the SDU, most child support payments in Illinois were processed through the circuit clerks. To fulfill the federal requirement, the Department of Public Aid contracted with the DuPage County Circuit Clerk to operate an SDU for the State of Illinois.

    *** NOTE:
    Within days of its October 1 start date, the SDU experienced backlogs of checks received from employers for distribution to custodial parents that could not be matched to the correct child support order. In addition, some checks processed by the SDU were sent to the wrong address or to the wrong person.

    Legislative Audit Commission Resolution Number 117, adopted January 11, 2000, directed the Auditor General to conduct a management audit of Public Aid’s State Disbursement Unit which examined the possible causes of implementation problems, the manner in which the SDU contract was procured, and the issuance of emergency payments.

    Causes of Implementation Problems

    Factors contributing to implementation problems included:

    Inadequate Planning. The Department of Public Aid did not adequately plan for implementation of the SDU.

    Although the federal requirement was passed in 1996, Public Aid procured legal services for the purpose of drafting the SDU contract through an emergency purchase in October 1998;
    Public Aid executed a contract with the DuPage County Circuit Clerk to operate the SDU in February 1999 — two and one-half years after the federal requirement passed but only seven months before the SDU had to be operational. According to documents provided by Public Aid, the Department did not competitively procure the SDU services because of “time constraints.” The contract’s effective date was made retroactive to October 1, 1998. The original contract amount of $8.5 million has been increased by amendments to $17.5 million and further increases are in negotiation.

    Public Aid entered into the SDU contract five months prior to legislation being enacted specifically authorizing its implementation. Public Aid has varying statutes that it believes authorized its actions.

    *** GET THIS! ***
    Contrary to industry standards, no comprehensive test of the SDU system was made prior to its start-up on October 1, 1999. We conducted a survey of 7 other states having state disbursement units and found that 5 of the 7 either phased-in or tested their systems prior to start-up and those 5 states experienced few problems upon implementation. The remaining 2 states that did not phase-in their SDU, like Illinois, experienced implementation problems.

    etc.

    familycourtmatters

    July 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm


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