The Department of Health and Human Services says it wants to make it easier for states to collect child support.
And, in a move that is likely to be applauded by the child support movement, it is moving to require child support service providers to be licensed in the states where they work.
The move to require licensure for providers comes in response to concerns raised by child support experts that the government’s new rules will make it more difficult for some parents to get support.
“The child will have an incentive to be a provider,” said Mark Barden, a senior staff attorney with the National Center for State Courts.
States already require licensures for all child support workers, and that includes those who serve the public, said Barbara Sperling, an associate professor at George Mason University School of Law who specializes in child support cases.
But the new rules also will make child support enforcement a bigger task, she said.
For instance, if a child supports her mother’s business, but also supports herself through her own earnings, it may be harder for the child to get a court order that obligates the parent to pay child support, said Spering.
In states that do not require licensors, many child support providers are already licensed by the state.
But the new regulations will require them to be state-licensed.
Sperling said states could try to change the laws to make the licensure process more uniform, but it is unlikely that would make much of a difference because there are already many providers who are not state-regulated.
Under the new guidelines, child support collection will be overseen by a state agency, the state Department of Child Support Enforcement.
But it’s unclear what would happen if a state decides to change its child support laws.
Barden, of the National Child Support Center, said the new licensing requirement will make the task of collecting child support more complicated.
“If you are a provider, you are going to be required to meet licensure requirements,” he said.
The new rules are part of the federal Child Support Guidelines.
They will go into effect July 1.