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Federal government looking to take over child support data

Since 1995 when Congress passed the Family Support Act, Florida and all other states have been charged with monitoring child support orders and payment compliance. The budget proposal from the White House could replace the state-level system with one managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The budget for fiscal year 2019 has requested $63 million for the agency to purchase a federal information technology system to track child support nationwide.

Saving tax dollars forms the rationale for the request. States currently can gain reimbursement of 66 percent of their costs for operating child support databases. An HHS representative said that the department has sent approximately $1 billion to states in the last five years. By switching funding to a national child support tracking system, the agency expects to save $800 million over the course of a decade.

The budget proposal does not describe when the agency would complete the new IT infrastructure or when states and territories would have access to it. The details of the system's design or who would maintain it remain unspecified at this point.

While the federal government considers a new approach to child support monitoring, support payments to dependent children from noncustodial parents remain in the hands of the state. An attorney familiar with family law may provide specific advice to a person who needs to obtain support for a child or establish parental rights. With legal support, a person might reach an agreement privately with the other party, and an attorney may document the terms and present them to a court for approval. Issues like paternity actions, support agreements or custody modifications require court review, and an attorney may explain what the person needs to a judge.

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