Child Support Law

What Is The Parent Locater Service?

When a parent is not making child support payments, the custodial parent may need to locate the parent to make sure they are paying for the costs of raising their child. A parent may move out of state or intentionally try and avoid responding to court notices. There are resources to help find the mother or father who is in violation of child support orders.

Child support laws and enforcement of family court orders vary by state. This page provides general information about tracking down a parent for child support. We recommend contacting a local family law attorney who can help you with your individual situation. 

What Is the Federal Parent Locator Service?

The Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) is a network of systems that locates individuals such as potential fathers or mothers or custodial or noncustodial parents, who are believed to be in violation of court-ordered support payments or financial aid. These parents may be required to make payments that they have previously either denied, refused or avoided. The FPLS is overseen by the U.S. government’s Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).

The FPLS works with other government organizations such as the:

  • Federal Case Registry
  • Federal Offset Program (Administrative or otherwise)
  • National Directory of New Hires
  • Passport Denial Program
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Multistate Financial Institution Data Match

The FLPS is intended to assist in pursuing due child support by locating parents who may be avoiding their court-ordered liabilities.

How Do Parent Locator Services Work?

The FPLS obtains and transmits information about the location of absent parents to enforce child support or visitation or to determine child custody or investigate parental kidnapping.

By engaging with data gathered from, for example, the National Director of New Hires, the FPLS is often able to determine the location, residence and employer of noncustodial parents who are in breach of a child support order. Once federal agents or agencies have handed off all pertinent information to state authorities, said noncustodial parent is empowered to take enforcement action.

Interested parties must fill out the mandatory paperwork related to such searches, typically described as a request for information from the FPLS form. Forms are usually returned to the state-level child services bureau, which will, in turn, consult with the claimant and forward the paperwork to federal authorities.

In all circumstances, applicants must be authorized (if the search is manual, rather than automatically triggered by governments themselves) to conduct a search via any state child support agency or FPLS. Confidential concerns abound, so be sure you are qualified to engage with parent locator services before filing any formal paperwork. Contact your child support attorney for advice.

State Parent Locator Services

Although the federal government has a comprehensive network for locating parents, many states also provide locator services, particularly as child support payments and similar legal responsibilities typically fall under state jurisdiction.

Most states operate their own child support services. The Oregon Child Support program, for example, asks that parents looking to locate a non-custodial parent reach out to them with any pertinent information they may have — both as to the identity of the noncustodial parent, as well as their current whereabouts. Valuable information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Full name of the noncustodial parent, and any living relatives.
  • Social security number and birth date.
  • Last known address, telephone number and the same details pertaining to any known employer(s).
  • Memberships related to professional, occupational, political, or recreational organizations or committees.
  • Any arrest records, military records, etc.

What Are Other Services for Finding Parents?

Some states, such as Illinois, have a Delinquent Parents site operated by the state health and family services department. This offers alternative means of locating noncustodial parents in breach of a child support obligations.

There are also commercial solutions for finding parents. Private investigators specializing in tracking down noncustodial parents who may be in breach of a court order exist, though their services come at a substantial cost, particularly if there is very little information as to their current whereabouts.

Working With a Private Attorney to Find the Parents

Working with a family law lawyer can help you find the parent and enforce child support orders. An experienced professional understands the resources that are out there to track down an absentee parent or a deadbeat parent who is refusing to support their child. Talk to your local lawyer for legal advice on locating a missing parent.

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