In 1975, the United States Congress established the Child Support Enforcement Program (CSE). Under Title IV-D of the
Social Security Act, this program was created to aid in child support collection. By actively encouraging
child support through this program, the government hoped to instill financial responsibility in both parents of
a child and, as a result, reduce the number of children receiving public assistance.
Now, more than 30 years old, this program continues to function as a joint effort among federal, state, local, and tribal
agencies to achieve the goal of promoting family self-sufficiency and child well-being.
Specifically, CSE is responsible for:
- Locating non-custodial parents
- Establishing paternity
- Establishing support orders
- Collecting support payments
- Providing services for non-custodial parents
As indicated in this list, the foundation of any child support case is the establishment of
paternity. Establishing paternity is often the first step in developing basic emotional, social,
and economic stability for children and their families. Additionally, children will gain legal rights and
privileges, possibly for inheritance, medical and life insurance benefits, Social Security benefits, and veterans' benefits.
When paternity is unclear or contested, the CSE may request that the family participate in a DNA test.
To learn more about the role of DNA testing in child support cases, click on any of the links below:
Establishing paternity can affect more than the parents and children involved. If the parents are minors,
the children's grandparents may be liable for child support, depending on the laws in their home state.
Click on the following link to see which states enforce grandparent liability for child support.