Essentials for Attorneys, 4th edition, is a handbook for the child support (IV-D) attorney, but non-attorneys will also find it helpful because it describes changes in the child support program. Chapters one through three will benefit the attorney new to the IV-D program because they describe the roles and relationships of the federal OCSE, its regional counterparts, and the state child support programs. The remaining chapters relate to case preparation and special initiatives, including domestic violence and access and visitation. The information is geared toward the IV-D attorney, regardless of whether the attorney practices in a judicial or administrative environment.
— Explores the history of the national child support program, from its origin to recoup TANF to today’s mission to supplement family income, increase self-sufficiency, and avoid public assistance costs.
— Examines the role of the federal government, focusing on OCSE’s role in developing policy; oversight, monitoring, system and program support of child support programs; outreach, and research.
— Focuses on the roles of these programs in creating strategic partnerships and in collaborating with community resources to improve overall economic stability of families and strengthen ties where children live apart from a parent.
Chapter 4: Ethical and Regulatory Requirements Governing Attorneys in the Child Support Program (PDF)
— Examines the unique and integral role of the IV-D attorney, including their obligations to the client (the IV-D agency) and the importance of complying with ethics law and rules of the state or jurisdiction where licensed to practice.
— Explores the importance of having adequate and accurate information when establishing a child’s parentage, obtaining a support order, or modifying or enforcing an existing order.
— Discusses the role of the IV-D attorney in helping the agency find faster and more efficient ways to ensure that families receive support through administrative and expedited judicial processes.
— Discusses alternative dispute resolution methods that aim to resolve conflicts outside traditional judicial settings, including negotiation, arbitration, and mediation.
— Discusses interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence, preparing the case, and developing case strategy in the context of the IV-D program.
— Discusses the history of establishing paternity or parentage, addressing children born to unmarried parents and to same sex couples. Includes discussions on genetic testing and the Uniform Parentage Act.
— Discusses the steps involved in establishing a support obligation and issues arising under child support guidelines. Also focuses on the mandates for obtaining orders for health care coverage, the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN), and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
— Discusses the wide range of case management and enforcement tools available to a child support agency. Many of these tools are or can be automated within statewide child support computer systems. Some cases involve submission to OCSE for enforcement with cooperation of federal agencies. Others require individualized attention by the child support attorney or agency.
— Discusses grounds for support order modification, federal review and adjustment requirements, jurisdiction to modify, and ways to keep support order amounts realistic.
— Offers a comprehensive overview of intergovernmental cases, which may include a combination of referrals between states, tribes, and countries. The chapter discusses federal and state legislation that has helped standardize state laws and improve intergovernmental support enforcement. Also touches on the tools available to the attorney for intergovernmental case processing.
— Highlights military regulations and policy that govern child support issues, and discusses how the child support attorney can work effectively with members of the military, their commanders, and military legal assistance offices to resolve child support matters.
—Discusses parenting time agreements and custody orders as they relate to establishment of a child support obligation, and the role that child support agencies can play in helping to facilitate parenting time agreements. The chapter explains the history of the State Access and Visitation Program, including allowable services and regulatory standards, and also reviews domestic violence safeguards for a child support attorney and tribunal to follow when establishing parenting time in cases that involve a risk of harm.
— Defines domestic violence and shares steps the child support agency and attorney can take to facilitate disclosure of domestic violence; discusses protocols that can help ensure the safe pursuit of child support in cases where a domestic violence victim wants to seek child support; and explains safeguards for confidentiality of identifying information in domestic violence cases.