Working with Low-Income Cases: Lessons for the Child Support Enforcement System from Parents' Fair Share. B. Referring NCPs to the Program


During the demonstration, all sites developed a procedure to make the mandate to participate in PFS part of a court order. Thus, NCPs who did not meet program participation requirements could be held in contempt of court or the local equivalent. Even in Los Angeles County, where NCPs who appeared at the review hearing were asked to agree to participate (that is, sign a stipulation that they would participate), once this agreement was made participation became mandatory.

The sites differed in whether the court issuing the order retained jurisdiction of the case after it ordered participation in PFS and/or scheduled any future review hearings at the time the referral was made. If the court did not retain jurisdiction or did not set a follow-up review hearing, NCPs who later failed to meet program requirements once again had to be located and served legal notice of a new hearing. If at referral to PFS the court retained jurisdiction or set a follow-up review hearing, then such legal notice was not required prior to the court taking action to enforce its order. The variety of site practices suggests that the resolution of this issue was heavily influenced by state and local statutes on civil law procedures and customary practices. But those sites which found a way to avoid a second "locate and serve" effort clearly had a more effective way to enforce the participation mandate.