If you have one or more children and want the other parent to pay child support, but you don’t know where they are, the first step is to try to locate them.
Start at Your Local Child Support Agency
The first thing that you can do is talk to your local child support agency. When you open a case with them, they can use the tools at their disposal to locate the missing parent. When you meet with the caseworker, just be sure to bring proof of paternity. That could include a certified birth certificate, letters to the child from the other parent, divorce paperwork, or anything else that indicates that the parent and child are linked.
If it can’t be easily proven that the person is the biological parent, your local child support agency still may be able to help you. In fact, they can often track down the alleged parent and either get them to voluntarily submit to DNA testing or help you to get a court order for DNA testing.
In order to help the agency track down the person in question, you should also bring as much of the following information as possible to your interview:
- The Full Name of the Alleged Parent
- The Full Name and Date of Birth of the Child
- The Alleged Parent’s Date of Birth and Last Know Place of Residence
- Any Information You Have About the Alleged Parent’s Employment
- Other Information, Such as Postmarked Letters, That Could Indicate the Alleged Parent’s Location
State Resources May Vary
Each state has its own laws and procedures governing child support. They also have their own parental locator services for child support. For example, some states have online forms that you can fill out to try to locate an absent parent. Other states may require you to search for a parent through an attorney, or by filing some sort of legal action.
The DHHS and the OCSE
In cases where one parent lives in a certain state and the other parent is proven to be in another state, or suspected of being in another state, it may be better to use other parental locator services for child support. For example, you might need to contact the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
A division of the DHHS is the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The OCSE works together with federal, state, local, and even tribal, child support agencies to track down parents and guarantee that children receive the support that they need. So, if you are looking for a parent who owes child support, you can also access the Federal parent Locator Service on the OCSE website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/fpls.
In addition to all of those resources, there are also private organizations that can help you to track down missing parents. However, it’s usually safer, better, and cheaper to use official parental locator services for child support.