History of Title IV-D

Source: http://www.childsupportanalysis.co.uk/information_and_explanation/world/history_usa.htm

1974 was the beginning of Title IV-D




Pre-19th Century

The poor laws
from 1601

The earliest history of child support in the USA came from the inheritance of the English poor laws. These laws were intended to allow parishes (local communities) to recover their costs of keeping people out of destitution from the relatives of those people. The laws didn't allow those people themselves (or other people) to claim from their relatives.
See: History of child support in the UK


Child support in the 13 colonies

"Child support law existed in the thirteen colonies and has existed in the states since the beginning of the nation's history". Gay.

See below:
about 1800
to 1880

Development of civil law for child support

See Hansen.
At first, courts developed civil law for child support. This especially enabled communities that kept lone mothers and children out of destitution to claim from the fathers. (This was similar in principle to the poor laws, but intended to be clearer and more effective).


Stanton v. Willson

"American courts in the nineteenth century addressed the problem of dependency among single mothers and their children by creating a legally enforceable child support duty.... One reason for the divergent fortunes of men and women after a divorce was that the transformations in the American conception of children from wage earners to dependents who needed constant nurturing and the trend toward maternal preference in custody decisions combined to require divorced women to bear the burden of raising children who did not work.... American courts in the nineteenth century invented a parental child support obligation in the context of increasing concerns about dependency among single mothers.... When single motherhood began to emerge in nineteenth-century America, the judiciary was the only institution of the American state that could deal with dependency among single mothers and their children: The poor laws were being overwhelmed by population growth and urbanization, and private charities and state poor-relief agencies had not yet appeared. The first child support statutes built on this judicial innovation, codifying a child support system that relied primarily on payments from absent parents, instead of on public supports for families." Hansen.


Van Valkinburgh v. Watson
New York


Tomkins v. Tomkins
New Jersey

See below:
about 1870 onward

Development of criminal law for failing to support children

See Hansen.
Now states started to pass laws against desertion and nonsupport. It started to become a criminal offence, with punishments including prison. Also, gradually it became possible for individuals, such as lone mthers, to claim child support.

By 1886

(Compilation of statutes)

By 1886, 11 states had made it a penal offence for a father to abandon or refuse to support his minor children. Typically, it still needed evidence that without this support the children would be a cost to the community. Hansen.


New Jersey statute

Examples of states taking action because fathers were criminally responsible for allowing children to become a public charge. The New York statute punished nonsupporting fathers with imprisonment and hard labour. Hansen.


Bowen v. State


State v. Peabody
Rhode Island

1st half of 20th Century


The court system continued to operate. The number of separated families continued to rise. 46 states had laws criminalising desertion and non-support.


Social Security Act of 1935 (Public Law 74-271)

This included Aid for Dependent Children. ADC (later AFDC; F = Families) established a partnership between the federal government and the states by providing appropriations to those states which adopted plans approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The states in turn provided a minimum monthly subsistence payment to families meeting established need requirements (such as an absent parent not providing support). This later gradually drove child support enforcement, in order to reduce expenditure on AFDC (see events below).
"Care for children" becomes one of the few entitlements for welfare. Compared with other countries, this tends to make "child support by parents" a prominent objective.

World War 2

2nd half of 20th Century and onwards

USA becomes unique in not having state-provided universal family allowances

"In most industrialized nations, private child support payments are not a central way in which the community makes sure that children are adequately supported. Instead, most industrialized nations have some kind of child allowances financed by the public or by employers that go to all families. In England, for instance, families receive a universal "Child Benefit" to defray the costs of raising children; and all single-parent families receive an additional "One Parent Benefit". But although the United States has generous, publicly funded benefits such as Social Security and Medicare for elderly Americans, no comparable program exists for children.... A privatized child support system might have been a background factor that lessened the pressure for family allowances in early-twentieth-century America." Hansen.


The Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA)

Some limited applicability to child support, and largely replaced by the 1964 version.


Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA)

This act has been enacted in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
The purpose of URESA was to provide a system for the interstate enforcement of support orders without requiring the person seeking support to go (or have her legal representative go) to the State in which the noncustodial parent resided. Where the URESA provisions between the two States are compatible, the law can be used to establish paternity, locate an absent parent, and establish, modify, or enforce a support order across State lines.


Social Security Act Amendments of 1950 (Public Law 81-734)

The law required state welfare agencies to notify law enforcement officials when providing AFDC to a child. (Presumably, local officials would then undertake to locate nonresident parents and make them pay child support).
The Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) was approved. (See above).


Amendment to URESA 1950



Amendment to URESA 1950



The Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA)

Implemented by most states and DC. Some relevance to child support orders.


Social Security Amendments of 1965 (Public Law 89-97)

Allowed welfare agencies to obtain addresses and employers of obligated parents from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.


Social Security Amendments of 1967 (Public Law 90-248)

Allowed states access to IRS for addresses of obligated parents. Each state was required to establish a single child support unit for AFDC children.
States were required to work cooperatively.


Revision to URESA (RURESA) 1950

(Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act).


Uniform Parentage Act 1973

Rules for the presumption of parentage, etc. Only adopted by a minority of states. Should be replaced by the 2000 Act.

1974 - 1975

Social Security Amendments of 1974 (Public Law 93-647)

(Child Support and Establishment of Paternity Program)

A response by Congress to reduce public expenditures on welfare by obtaining support from noncustodial parents on an ongoing basis, to help non-AFDC families get support so they could stay off public assistance, and to establish paternity for children born outside marriage so child support could be obtained for them. Mandated that the State plan for child support require States to cooperate with other States in establishing paternity, locating absent parents, and securing compliance with court orders.

Created (commencing January 1975) Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the child support program. The program was designed for cost recovery of state and federal outlays on public assistance and for cost avoidance to help families leave welfare and to help families avoid turning to public assistance. This statute, as amended, authorizes Federal matching funds to be used for enforcing support obligations by locating nonresident parents, establishing paternity, establishing child support awards, and collecting child support payments. This established the basis of the CSES. It required every State to establish a child support enforcement system. States had to establish special agencies for the collection of child support payments due to recipients of AFDC who were required to sign over to the state claims to child support as a condition of eligibility. States were required to offer similar services to non-AFDC cases if requested.


(Public Law 94-566)

Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions: Requires that upon request of a public agency administering or supervising the administration of a State plan approved under title IV (Grants to States for Aid and Services to Needy Families with Children) of the Social Security Act, shall furnish to such agency making the request, information with respect to unemployment compensation, and refusal by an individual to accept employment. (Required state employment agencies to provide addresses of obligated parents to state child support agencies).


(Public Law 95-30)

Amended section 454 of the Social Security Act relating to the garnishment of a federal employee’s wages for child support.


Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980
(Public Law 86-265)

Provided state and local child support agencies access to wage information held by the Social Security Administration and state employment agencies for establishing and enforcing child support obligations.


Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981 (Public Law 97-35)

1) IRS was authorized to withhold tax refunds for delinquent child support;
2) IV-D agencies were required to collect spousal support for AFDC families;
3) IV-D agencies were required to collect fees from parents delinquent in child support;
4) obligations assigned to the state were no longer dischargeable in bankruptcy proceedings; and
5) states were required to withhold a portion of unemployment for delinquent support


Child Support Amendments of 1984 (Public Law 98-378)

(Mandated guidelines to be used in an advisory capacity).

Section 3 of the 1984 Child Support Enforcement Amendments required every State’s child support enforcement agency to establish procedures for automatically withholding income from the pay and tax refunds of absentee parents, whenever their child support payments fell into arrears of over one month, without having to request court intervention. It also required States to establish procedures imposing: "lines against real and personal property for the amount of overdue support ... [and] Permitted states to extend withholding to income other then wages, such as bonuses and commissions, or dividends."
Additionally, Sections 15 and 18 required States to establish a committee responsible for formulating child support award guidelines. Once established these were to be provided to: "all judges and other officials who have the power to determine child support awards within such State, but need not be binding".
Required States to limit the role of the courts significantly by implementing administrative or judicial expedited processes. States are required to have quasi-judicial or administrative systems to expedite the process for obtaining and enforcing a support order.


Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-509)

Required States to treat past due support obligations as final judgments entitled to full faith and credit in every State. Thus, a person who has a support order in one State does not have to obtain a second order in another State to obtain the money due should the debtor parent move from the issuing court's jurisdiction. The second State can modify the order prospectively if it finds that circumstances exist to justify a change, but the second State may not retroactively modify a child support order.


Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act 1987

(Adopted by a minority of states). Requires that child support be based in part on the financial resources of both parents and in part on the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved.


Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (Public Law 100-203)

Required states to provide services to families with an absent parent who receives Medicaid and have them assign their support rights to the state.


1988 Family Support Act (Public Law 100-485)

Title I of the 1988 FSA implemented a national Child Support Enforcement System based upon the uniform application of a State-developed formula to ensure absent parents were held responsible for maintaining their children. Section 101 requires every State to implement various procedures for immediate and mandatory wage-withholding for all support orders being enforced by the State’s CSEA.
This law required the appointment of an Assistant Secretary for Family Support within DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) to administer the Child Support Enforcement Program.
Mandated that by 1994, states implement presumptive, rather than advisory, guidelines.
Enacted "immediate" wage withholding.


Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act 1990 (Public Law 101-508)

Permanently extended the federal provision that allows states to ask the Internal Revenue Service to deduct child support arrears of at least US$500 from tax refunds to non-custodial parents.


Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-521)

Imposed a Federal criminal penalty for the willful failure to pay a past due child support obligation to a child who resides in another State and that has remained unpaid for longer than a year or is greater than $5,000. For the first conviction, the penalty is a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both; for a second conviction, the penalty is a fine of not more than $250,000, imprisonment for up to 2 years, or both.


Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

It is designed to deal with desertion and nonsupport by instituting uniform laws in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. The core of UIFSA is limiting control of a child support case to a single State, thereby ensuring that only one child support order from one court or child support agency is in effect at any given time.


Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-66)

Required states to establish paternity on 75 percent of the children in their caseload instead of 50 percent. States had to adopt civil procedures for voluntary acknowledgement of paternity.
The law also required states to adopt laws to ensure the medical compliance in orders.


Bankruptcy Reform Act 1994 (Public Law 103-394)

Protected child support from being discharged in bankruptcy. It also provided protection against trustee avoidance, facilitates access to bankruptcy proceedings, and assigns child support a priority for collecting claims from debtors.


Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-383)

This is binding in all the states and supercedes any inconsistent provisions of state law. It restricts a State court's ability to modify a child support order issued by another State unless the child and the custodial parent have moved to the State where the modification is sought or have agreed to the modification.


Work and Responsibility Act of 1994

Included assisting states with child support enforcement.


Small Business Administration Amendments of 1994 (Public Law 103-403)

Renders delinquent child support payers ineligible for small business loans.


Social Security Act Amendments of 1994 (Public Law 103-432)

Requires states to periodically report debtor parents to consumer reporting agencies.


Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 (Public Law 104-193)

(Welfare reform law)

Under the new law, each State must operate a CSE Program meeting Federal requirements in order to be eligible for TANF funds (which replaced AFDC). This law made about 50 changes to the CSE Program, many of them major. These changes included requiring States to increase the percentage of fathers identified, establishing an integrated, automated network linking all States to information about the location and assets of parents, requiring States to implement more enforcement techniques, and revising the rules governing the distribution of past due (arrearage) child support payments to former recipients of public assistance.
Under the new law, states can implement tough child support enforcement techniques such as withholding wages, seizing assets, and revoking driving and professional licences of those parents who owe child support.
Set aside 1 percent of the Federal share of retained child support collections for information dissemination and technical assistance to States (including technical assistance related to automated systems), training of State and Federal staff, staffing studies, and related activities needed to improve the CSE Program, and research, demonstration, and special projects of regional or national significance relating to the operation of the CSE Program. An additional 2 percent of the Federal share of retained child support collections is set aside for the operation of the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS). Expanded the scope of the FPLS to allow certain noncustodial parents to obtain information regarding the location of the custodial parent.
Streamlines the paternity determination process.
Required all States to enact UIFSA (see below), including all amendments, before January 1, 1998
Increased its access to information and maintaining its effort to automate caseload processing. The legislation mandated that states require employers to report all new hires within 20 days to child support enforcement authorities. This new requirement was expected to reduce the delay in establishing immediate wage withholding.
PRWORA also eliminated the federal requirement that states pass through the first $50 of child support paid to welfare families.




Hansen: "The American invention of child support: dependency and punishment in early American child support law".
Drew D. Hansen. Yale Law Journal, March 1999.

Morgan: Child Support Guidelines: Interpretation and Application
Laura W. Morgan

Ways & Means: The 2000 House Ways and Means
Green Book, "Child Support Enforcement Program"

Washington State: Washington State, Department of Social and Health Services
Child Support Federal Legislative History
Appendix 7 Child Support Federal Legislative History ESA Program Briefing Book 2001 A7-1.
Child Support Federal Legislative History 1998 Public Law 105-200,
The Child Support Incentive Act of 1998.

GAO: Child Support - an uncertain income supplement for families leaving welfare (US)
GAO/HEHS-98-168 Child Support and Time-Limited Welfare, August 1998
United States General Accounting Office

Gay: A Return to Welfare As We Knew It? The beginning of the end of child support reform
Roger F. Gay. Men's News Daily, March 21, 2002.