What is the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS)?

The Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) is a service designed to gather child support payments from parents who may otherwise be difficult to track or locate. The Federal Parent Locator Service can also be used in connection with the enforcement or determination of child custody, visitation, and parental kidnapping.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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The Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) is a service designed to gather child support payments from parents who may otherwise be difficult to track or locate. The service is an arm of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and was created by the United States Federal Government. In addition to the Federal Parent Locator Service, there are also state parent locator services in some states that can help secure child support payments.

The Federal Parent Locator Service and Child Support Payments

The Federal Parent Locator Service handles a number of tasks including obtaining and transmiting information about the location of any absent parent when that information can be used to enforce child support payments. The Federal Parent Locator Service can also be used in connection with the enforcement or determination of child custody, visitation, and parental kidnapping.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 also expanded the FPLS’s services to include a National Directory of New Hires and a Federal Case Registry of Support Orders. FPLS will match data between the New Hire and Case Registry every two days and report matches to states within two days. This can greatly assist in locating parents who have recently relocated, or those who may have switched jobs in order to avoid garnishment of wages due to overdue child support payments. Any legal situation in which an absentee parent is to be held liable for child support payments or other parenting obligations is a situation in which the services of the FPLS may be employed.

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Using the Federal Parent Locator Service

Because a minor child, a supported spouse, an ex-spouse, or another party injured by the disappearance of a parent may have limited resources, and because such situations do not technically qualify as missing person cases, the Federal Parent Locator Service provides an important service. It provides this type of locating service without involving the authorities, and without requiring the user to seek private services that are often expensive.

Anyone who requires the assistance of the Federal Parent Locator Service should contact the FPLS directly with questions and concerns. The Federal Parent Locator Service will ask for any information regarding the whereabouts of the person who owes child support payments or other obligations. The Federal Parent Locator Service should also be able to direct interested parties toward other useful resources.

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