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General Laws

Section 5. (a) The IV-D agency shall establish and operate a unit, which shall be known as “the state disbursement unit”, for the collection and disbursement of payments under support orders in all cases being enforced by the IV-D agency and, on and after October 1, 1998, in all cases not receiving IV-D services in which the income of the obligor is subject to withholding pursuant to section 12; provided, however, that with respect to cases not receiving IV-D services, the IV-D agency shall be required only to collect and disburse payments and to update the state case registry based on information provided by the parties or the court, and shall not be required to enforce such orders or to take any other action unless the obligee or obligor files an application for IV-D services with the IV-D agency as provided in section 2. The state disbursement unit shall be operated directly by the IV-D agency or by a contractor responsible directly to the IV-D agency, and shall distribute collected amounts on behalf of the obligee, whether or not a recipient of public assistance, in accordance with Title IV, Part D of the Social Security Act. The state disbursement unit shall use automated procedures, electronic processes, and computer-driven technology to the maximum extent feasible, efficient, and economical, for the collection and disbursement of support payments, including procedures for receipt of payments from parents, employers, other states, and any other source, and for disbursements to custodial parents and other obligees, the department of transitional assistance, the department of children and families, and the agencies of other states; for accurate identification of payments; to ensure prompt disbursement of the obligee’s share of any payment; and to furnish any parent, upon request, timely information on the current status of support payments under an order requiring payments to be made by or to the parent; provided, however, that with respect to cases not receiving IV-D services for which the IV-D agency only collects and disburses income withholding payments, the state disbursement unit shall not be required to convert and maintain in automated form records of payments kept for any period prior to October 1, 1998, or before such income withholding order was made payable to the IV-D agency. The state disbursement unit shall distribute all amounts payable within two business days after receipt from the employer or other source of periodic income, if sufficient information identifying the obligor and the obligee is provided; except that the state disbursement unit may delay the distribution of collections toward arrearages until the resolution of any timely appeal requesting an administrative or judicial review pursuant to section 17 with respect to such arrearages. Whenever the department of transitional assistance notifies the IV-D agency that it has terminated public assistance payable to an obligee, said IV-D agency shall distribute support payments collected by the IV-D agency to the obligee in accordance with this subsection, until said IV-D agency is notified by the department of transitional assistance that such obligee is again receiving public assistance.

(b) Whenever the IV-D agency closes a child support case in accordance with Part D of Title IV of the Social Security Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder because the whereabouts of the obligee are unknown, the IV-D agency shall direct the obligor, and any employer or other person remitting child support payments on behalf of the obligor, to cease remitting such payments to the IV-D agency. Thereafter the IV-D agency may, in accordance with regulations promulgated under this chapter, transfer the undisbursed payments to the department of transitional assistance to reimburse the commonwealth for arrears due for any period that public assistance was provided to the obligee or may return to the obligor any payments received by it that cannot be disbursed to the obligee because such obligee’s whereabouts are unknown. The return of a child support payment to an obligor hereunder shall not affect the underlying child support obligation. The IV-D agency shall maintain any undisbursed payments, along with any payments that are unidentifiable as to either the obligee or the obligor, in the child support trust fund payments account for three years and shall attempt to locate or identify such obligee or obligor. If, at the expiration of such time the IV-D agency has been unable to locate the obligee on whose behalf the payments were remitted or has not transferred the payments to the department of transitional assistance or cannot locate the obligor in order to return the payments or has not identified the obligor or obligee of the payments and the payments remain undisbursed or unidentified, the IV-D agency may expend such funds on public awareness about teenage pregnancy, out-of-wedlock births, paternity establishment, child support and domestic violence. Such public education shall consist of efforts to provide the public, or groups within the public, with information directed specifically at preventing teenage pregnancies and pregnancies from parents not married to each other encouraging paternity establishment, including voluntary acknowledgment of parentage, promoting responsibility for child support obligations, and protecting the confidentiality of domestic violence victims receiving IV-D services. Expenditures of such funds for such purposes shall be in addition to and shall not replace existing local, state, or federal funding related to the same purposes.

(c) The IV-D agency shall notify the obligee upon termination of public assistance of his eligibility to continue to receive IV-D services, and, unless requested by the obligee to terminate IV-D services, the IV-D agency shall continue to provide such services subject to the same conditions and on the same basis as in the case of other individuals to whom IV-D services are furnished, except that an application or other request to continue such IV-D services shall not be required of such a family.

Whenever the department of transitional assistance notifies the IV-D agency that it proposes to terminate public assistance payable to an obligee, said IV-D agency shall take such steps as are reasonably necessary to ensure that such obligee shall receive, no later than the date the obligee would have received its next public assistance check, the support payment and any refund then due pursuant to federal law and that the obligee will continue to receive such support payments regularly until the judgment or support order is satisfied or until said IV-D agency is notified by the department of transitional assistance that such obligee is again receiving public assistance.

Whenever the department of transitional assistance notifies the IV-D agency that public assistance to an obligee has been terminated for any reason other than the collection of monthly support in excess of benefits paid, said IV-D agency shall take such steps as are reasonably necessary to ensure that such obligee shall receive, no later than two weeks from the date the obligee would have received his next public assistance check, the support payment and any refund then due pursuant to federal law and that the obligee will continue to receive such support payments regularly until the judgment or support order is satisfied or until said IV-D agency is notified by the department of transitional assistance that such obligee is again receiving public assistance.

Said IV-D agency shall notify the obligee of his right to request a report of the amount and distribution of all monies sent to said office on behalf of said obligee. Said IV-D agency shall also notify such obligee of his eligibility for IV-D services as a nonpublic assistance recipient and shall continue to provide any appropriate child support services unless requested by the obligee to terminate services.

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