COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Payments During the Pandemic
Are child support payments suspended during the coronavirus pandemic?
No, child support payments have not been suspended. DCFS does not have the authority to suspend payments. The court in which the child support order was established has that authority. However, DCFS will determine whether to pursue enforcement action on a case-by-case basis.
Can child support payments be made without going into a DCFS Child Support Enforcement office?
We encourage all non-custodial parents and employers not already set up for electronic fund transfers to make their payments electronically. Payments can be made online or by phone as follows:
ExpertPay – for both employers and non-custodial parents – No convenience fee.
- Online at expertpay.com, using a bank account
- By phone at 1-866-645-6347, using a bank account
MoneyGram – for non-custodial parents – Convenience fee.
- Online at moneygram.com, using a bank account or credit card
- By phone at 1-800-926-9400, using a credit card
- Cash payments also may be made at local participating retailers like Walmart, CVS and Albertsons
E-ChildsPay – for non-custodial parents – Convenience fee.
- Online at e-childspay.com, using a credit card
- By phone at 1-866-645-6348, using a credit card
Federal Stimulus Checks
Will a non-custodial parent's coronavirus stimulus check be intercepted if they owe child support arrears?
For the first round of stimulus checks, YES.
- The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) did not grant states any discretion to reduce or eliminate offsets (intercepts) due to existing child support arrears and/or financial hardships. Therefore, any non-custodial parent who owes more than $500 in child support arrears is subject to having their coronavirus stimulus check (also known as an Economic Impact Payment) intercepted and applied toward the arrears owed. In TANF or Title IV-E foster care cases, checks can be intercepted if at least $150 in arrears is owed.
- If the non-custodial parent filed taxes jointly with a spouse, the intercepted funds will be held for up to six months to allow time for the spouse to file an “Injured Spouse” claim for their share of the stimulus check. To download the IRS Injured Spouse Form (Form 8379) and related instructions, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-8379.
- For answers to other Frequently Asked Questions about the stimulus checks (Economic Impact Payments) and the U.S. Treasury’s offset program (intercepts), visit the Treasury’s website at www.fiscal.treasury.gov/top/faqs-for-the-public-covid-19.html.
For the second round of stimulus checks, NO.
- The second stimulus payment will not be intercepted for past-due child support. Congress authorized a second stimulus payment in COVID relief legislation passed on December 21, and the President signed it on December 27. However, unlike the first stimulus payment, Congress exempted the second payment from the federal tax offset program for past-due child support.
- Please continue to monitor IRS.gov for the latest information about stimulus payments.
Can DCFS or the state of Louisiana choose not to intercept the stimulus funds?
For the first round of stimulus checks, no. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) did not grant states any discretion to reduce or eliminate offsets (intercepts) due to existing child support arrears and/or financial hardships.
While the CARES Act intentionally exempts the stimulus checks (also known as Economic Impact Payments) from reduction or offset against certain debts, there is no exemption for child support debt. As a result, the economic impact payments made to eligible non-custodial parents who owe past-due child support and who are subject to intercept under the Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program will be offset by the amount of past-due child support. Because these economic impact payments are treated as a tax refund offset, and not an administrative offset, the Act does not provide states the option to suspend federal tax refund offset in cases meeting the eligibility criteria.
For the second round of stimulus checks, there will be no intercept for past-due child support. Congress exempted the second stimulus payment from the federal tax offset program for past-due child support.
My family's first coronavirus stimulus check was intercepted because of my spouse's child support arrears. How can I claim my portion of the intercepted funds?
If the noncustodial parent does not owe past-due child support, they will receive their portion of the stimulus payments and do not need to take any action to receive it.
If the noncustodial parent owes past-due support and filed jointly, both spouses' portion of the payment was offset and sent to the state where they owed past-due child support. In the past few weeks, the IRS recovered these amounts to ensure that they paid spouses their portion of these payments. The IRS will automatically send the spouse their portion of the payment. DCFS CSE will either credit the remainder of any payments to the past-due child support amount or refund the payment to the noncustodial parent. If you have questions about the payment, please contact the IRS for information.
For answers to other Frequently Asked Questions about the stimulus checks (Economic Impact Payments) and the U.S. Treasury’s offset program (intercepts), visit the Treasury’s website at www.fiscal.treasury.gov/top/faqs-for-the-public-covid-19.html.
Contacting Your Caseworker
Can I contact my caseworker through CAFÉ? How?
Yes, Child Support Enforcement clients can contact their caseworker through CAFÉ using the following steps:
- Log into your CAFÉ account at www.dcfs.la.gov/cafe
- Click on “Check My Cases” on your My Account page
- Click on “Child Support Enforcement Details” under “Case Summary.” This will take you to the Case Details page.
- Click on “Child Support Enforcement Message Center” under “General Information”
- Click on “Submit a Question” and send your question or information.
- A message will then be sent to your caseworker for a response. Please note that the response can take up to two business days.
- When your caseworker responds, you will receive an email notifying you that a response to your question has been placed on the Child Support Payment and Information Center. Please log in to view the message.
NOTE:If you just needgeneral information about CAFÉ, please use the HELP or FAQs section within CAFÉ.
Do people who receive FITAP or Medicaid have to seek support from the non-custodial parent?
Yes, to be eligible for FITAP (Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program) or Medicaid, a person must give information to help identify and locate the non-custodial parent, unless the FITAP or Medicaid agency determines good cause for not cooperating.
Are there costs involved?
An annual collection fee of $35 will be charged to any case in which the Child Support Enforcement has successfully collected and distributed $550 to families who have never received assistance under FITAP.
Is help available if the other parent lives in a different state?
Yes. Child Support Enforcement works with all other states and U.S. territories and some foreign countries to help provide child support services.
How does the program operate?
Child support enforcement services are administered from 12 Regional Offices which serve all 64 parishes. Offices of the District Attorney also provide child support services.
Why is establishing paternity important?
- Identity:It is important for all of us to know who we are. Children have the right to know both parents.
- Medical:Children may benefit by knowing their medical history, as children sometimes inherit health problems that can be treated better if the doctor knows both parents' medical histories.
- Support:Children have the right to be supported by both parents. Children who are supported by only one parent often do not have enough money to meet their needs.
- Benefits:Acknowledged children may also have the right to other benefits, including Social Security, Veteran's benefits, and medical insurance.
- Inheritance:Children should have the right to inherit from both parents.
How is paternity established?
Paternity is established by signing an acknowledgment of paternity or by a court determining who is the biological father.
What does acknowledging paternity mean?
Acknowledging paternity is a way to establish who is the biological father when the parents are not married to each other. The parents may sign an acknowledgment of paternity form at the hospital when the child is born. The acknowledgment may also be signed at a later date. The acknowledgment should then be filed with the State Vital Records Registry.
If the Acknowledgment of Paternity is signed, will the father's name be on the birth certificate?
If the unmarried parents sign the acknowledgment at the hospital when the child is born, the child's last name on the birth certificate may be the last name of the father, if the mother agrees; or the child's last name may be a combination of the last name of the father and the mother's maiden name.
Can a minor acknowledge that he is the father of a child?
If the biological father is under age 18, the acknowledgment must be authorized by his legal tutor(s). If the minor father's parents are married the signature of the minor father's father alone will suffice. If the parents of the minor father are judicially separated, divorced, or were never married, the parent awarded custody may sign the authorization. If the parents have joint custody, both parents must sign. If one or both parents of the minor father are absent, the legal guardian may consent to the acknowledgment.
Do the parents have to be in Louisiana to acknowledge paternity?
The acknowledgment of paternity can be mailed to a parent anywhere to be signed. Both parents must sign in front of two witnesses and a notary public. The form should then be filed with the State Vital Records Registry.
Why should parents sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity if they are living together and plan to get married?
If the parents are not married to each other when the child is born, the man is not the legal father. Living with the mother or getting married later does not make him the father in the eyes of the law. The child's rights can be protected only by establishing paternity. Signing the acknowledgment is one way to establish paternity.
Can a party cancel an acknowledgment?
An authentic act of acknowledgment may be canceled without cause under the following conditions (whichever comes first):
A person who signed an acknowledgment may ask the court to cancel the acknowledgment upon proof of fraud, duress, material mistake of fact or error, or that the person is not the biological parent of the child. An acknowledgment cannot be canceled without a court hearing.
What should we do if we are not sure who is the father?
If either parent is unsure who is the father, a paternity test should be requested to determine if the alleged father is the biological father of the child.
How is paternity testing done?
The genetic, or DNA, test samples are collected and sent to a laboratory. The test compares many different details of the child's sample with similar details in the man's sample and the mother's sample.
What will the paternity test show?
The paternity test will show if a man is NOT the biological father of a child. Or the test can show that it is at least 99.9% certain, that a man is the biological father of the child.
If the paternity test shows that there is at least a 99.9% probability that a man is the biological father, can the man become the father without going to court?
Yes. The parents can then make him the father by signing the acknowledgment of paternity.
Who pays for the paternity test?
The parents may make private arrangements with the hospital or a paternity testing laboratory. If either parent receives help from Child Support Enforcement, the state pays for the test. The court may order the father to repay the cost of the paternity testing if paternity is established.
What about support if the child is receiving government assistance (FITAP or Medicaid)?
If the child receives FITAP (Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program) or Medicaid, the mother is required to cooperate with Child Support Enforcement to name the father, give information to help find the father, and help determine legally who is the father of the child.
In Medicaid cases, the State establishes and enforces medical support orders, but the custodial parent may choose whether or not to receive child support services.
Child Support Enforcement contacts the other parent to obtain information needed to determine the right amount of support to be paid and the availability of medical insurance. The court can then order the non-custodial parent to pay a certain amount of child support and can order one or both parents to provide medical support.
What about support if the child is not receiving any government assistance?
If a child is not receiving any cash assistance, the parents may make their own arrangements for child support. Either parent may apply for help from Child Support Enforcement. Once an acknowledgment is signed, the father may be obligated to support the child.
In any case, in which Child Support Enforcement is providing services, the child support order will require one or both of the parents to provide medical support for the child. Support Enforcement Services contacts the other parent to obtain information needed to determine the right amount of support to be paid and the availability of medical insurance. The court can then order the non-custodial parent to pay a certain amount of child support and order medical support from one or both parents.
What about custody and visitation?
Child Support Enforcement has no authority in custody and visitation issues. After the alleged father signs an acknowledgment of paternity, he has the right to pursue visitation with the child and the right to petition the court for custody.
What rights do parents have under the law?
Louisiana Law gives parents rights in a paternity determination. Parents can be represented by an attorney. Parents have the right to DNA testing to prove whether the man is the biological father, and the right to a trial to determine paternity.