Understanding the Different Types of Child Support Cases

IV-D, IV-A, IV-E, or Non I-VD Child Support

a little boy running into his father's arms
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Understanding how child support works and the legalese of your individual case can be challenging, especially when you're just getting started. The situation can be made all the more confusing as a result of the four different types of child support cases: IV-D, V-A, IV-E, and non-IV-D.

The designation "IV" refers to Title IV of the Social Security Act of 1975, which covers grants to states for the purpose of providing aid and services to families with children in need. The type of case you have determines how child support payments are collected and the degree of involvement the state regulatory agencies have in your case.

For example, some non-custodial parents pay child support privately, directly to the custodial parent. Others pay child support through the state where the child support order was established, either by having the child support deducted from their paycheck or by paying the state. In these cases, the state then issues the payment to the custodial parent.

Types of Child Support Cases

Knowing the type of case you have is crucial to understanding what to expect, who to contact for help, and how your child support works. In general, IV-D, IV-A, and IV-E child support cases are "full service" cases where each state's Office of Child Support Enforcement helps to manage the case and assists the custodial parent with receiving the payments, including both current and overdue payments. On average, around 95% of the funds collected go to the families, while just under 5% goes back to the government to recoup costs that were paid for on behalf of the custodial families.

IV-D Cases

In IV-D cases, the custodial parent is receiving assistance from the state's Office of Child Support Enforcement. This assistance may include locating the non-custodial parent, establishing paternity, or establishing and enforcing a child support order. If you don't know where your child's non-custodial parent is, or if that parent is not complying with a child support order, this agency is there to help.

IV-A Cases

In IV-A child support cases, the custodial parent is receiving public assistance (such as SNAP benefits) from the state. In order to defray the costs of supporting the family, the state will automatically refer IV-A cases to the Office of Child Support Enforcement in order to assist in the collection of child support directly from the non-custodial parent.

IV-E Cases

When children are being cared for by someone other than a parent, such as another relative or the foster care system, their child support situation is designated as an IV-E case. These cases are also automatically referred to the Office of Child Support Enforcement in order to attempt to recoup any required costs from the non-custodial parent(s).

Non-IV-D Cases

Non-IV-D child support are cases where child support is established and maintained privately, such as following a divorce. If you have a legal agreement with your child's other parent and they are meeting their obligations (or you are the payer and are complying), then most likely you have a non-IV-D case.

However, non-IV-D cases can become IV-D cases if the non-custodial parent does not pay the support they owe. In those situations, the custodial parent can ask the Office of Child Support Enforcement to step in to help collect outstanding, unpaid child support and ensure that future payments are paid. When this happens, the child support case changes to an IV-D case.

Child support is an important tool to help ensure that children are provided for by their parents. While it may seem confusing to have so many different types of child support, these designations signal the level of involvement required by state agencies as well as the particular child support scenario of each family. Essentially, they allow the government to keep track of which families and children may need extra assistance.

How to Change a Child Support Case

Family situations often change over the course of a child's life and it's not uncommon for the type of child support you have to change along with it. Parents may get remarried or lose their employment, which are both common reasons to review a child support case and possibly adjust which type you have.

Unfortunately, it's also not uncommon for non-custodial parents to simply stop paying. If this happens to you, know you're not alone and that help is available.

In fact, around 40% of the money custodial families are owed does not get paid. If you need help compelling your child's other parent to pay their child support, it's important to get in contact with your Office of Child Support Enforcement case manager as soon as possible. The office has systems in place that can help your child get the financial support they need. Anytime you think you need to change or review your child support arrangement, contact your case manager or your lawyer.

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