What is the Federal Parent Locator Service?

Nearly a third of our nation’s children are being brought up in single parent homes. Many of these custodial parents are owed child support from a biological parent who fails to meet their legal obligation in supporting their children. The Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) is a computerized network operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) uses this database to locate parents in order to collect child support payments and enforce court orders regarding child support.

Office of Child Support Enforcement

The FPLS is operated by the Office of Child Support Enforcement to locate children and their parents. One of the primary objectives is to obtain information regarding the non-custodial parent’s employment status. If they are currently employed, their wages may be garnished in order to meet their child support obligation. The Division of Child Support (DCS) may submit a request for information to locate a non-custodial parent for the purpose of:

  • Establishing biological paternity of the child
  • Modifying, enforcing or establishing child support orders
  • Enforcing state or federal laws in conjunction with the unlawful kidnapping of a child
  • Assisting state agencies that are providing foster care or welfare of the child in determining who has parental rights to a child

There are a limited number of entities that are allowed to request information from the FPLS. These include State child support agencies, the family court system, the custodial parent or legal guardian of the child.

Using the FPLS in Parental Kidnapping Cases

The federal government allows the FPLS database to be used in parental kidnapping cases. An authorized person may request a search be conducted to locate the parent who has unlawfully taken the child. Authorized agents may include:

  • Any agent or attorney who has the legal authority to enforce a child custody determination
  • The court that has jurisdiction to enforce a child custody order
  • All law enforcement officials and prosecutors
  • State court judges who can legally enforce child custody orders

A custodial parent can file charges of parental kidnapping through the District Attorney’s office. Once this has been done, the court must issue an order to locate the non-custodial parent.

How An Attorney Can Protect You & Your Children

Many parents feel that it is a lost cause in trying to make the non-custodial honor their child support agreements. Laws are put in place to help families get the financial support from biological parents, thereby easing the burden of the federal government in supporting these children. Family law attorneys can provide legal advice on how to proceed if you are trying to obtain child support or establish paternity.

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