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Handbook on Child Support Enforcement

Consumer Information Center: Handbook on Child Support Enforcement

Giving Hope and Support to
America's Children

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Child Support Enforcement
Washington, D.C. 20447


The Native American Child Support Program in the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement has been consulting with the Tribes and Native American organizations to ensure that Native American children receive the child support to which they are entitled. New provisions in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) provide more options to achieve this goal.

American Indian Tribes or Tribal organizations will be eligible to apply for grants to operate full or partial child support enforcement programs. The projects must meet child support enforcement criteria that will be issued through regulations in mid-1998. Formal consultation is planned for the proposed rules.

Native American reservations are governed by Tribal laws which may differ from those of the States, just as laws differ from State to State. The differences, and the various types of State and Tribal court systems, sometimes make it difficult to enforce child support orders or to locate absent parents on reservations.

However, some States and Tribes have entered into Cooperative Agreements to facilitate obtaining child support for Native American children. If Tribes do not operate child support enforcement programs, it is expected that more Tribes and States will enter into Cooperative Agreements to work together to carry out their child support responsibilities.

In the interim, Tribal and State child support staffs will continue to pursue all available means to assist Native American children to receive support. What works best, and barriers encountered, will be shared. This will assist Tribes to decide how best to meet child support enforcement requirements, through Tribal programs or Cooperative Agreements with States.

My ex-husband is a Native American who lives and works on an Indian Reservation. Can the CSE Program help get child support for my children?

It may be difficult to establish or enforce a child support order when the non-custodial parent lives and works on an Indian Reservation if the Tribe does not have an agreement with a State to establish or enforce each other's child support orders. When a Tribe has an agreement with a State CSE Agency to establish paternity, locate absent parents, or enforce or modify child support orders, State and local CSE staff and the Tribal courts work together to obtain the child support for Native American children.

State CSE Agencies and OCSE are currently working with a number of Tribes to develop cooperative agreements to solve the complex problems of obtaining child support. Talk with your State or local CSE office about the specific situation and how it can help. Be sure to provide any information about any assets off the Reservation that your ex-husband may have.

My ex-husband is a Native American living on a Reservation. My caseworker hasn't been able to get any child support for my children. What can I do?

Check with the Tribal leaders to see if there are any provisions established by the Tribe for supporting Tribal children. Your children may be eligible to receive special services (health, education, general assistance payments, etc.), or some other kind of specialized assistance.

I am a Native American mother of a three-year-old and I live on a reservation. His father is not Native American, does not live on the Reservation, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Tribal Court. How can I get him to help support his son?

Seek assistance for your child through the Tribe if you live on the Reservation. If the Tribe does not have an agreement with the State, also work directly with the IV-D office in the State, or local, OCSE office to locate the father and establish a child support order.

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