What Does 'Title IV-D' Mean in Child Custody Cases?

Title IV-D Definition

Woman waiting in line at child support enforcement agency.
Photo © Steve Debenport/Getty Images

Have you heard officials at the Office of Child Support Enforcement use the term 'Title IV-D' when talking about your child support case? IV-D means the state is taking steps to ensure that child support payments are being made. It also refers to how these services are funded. Learn more about this industry term means and what you need to know about filing for child support

IV-D Definition

The phrase 'IV-D' refers to Title IV, Part D of the Social Security Act of 1975.

Title IV charges each state with the responsibility of providing aid and services to families and children in need. As part of fulfilling that commitment, each state is required to run its own local child support enforcement program, with the help of grant money provided by the federal government.

Here's a breakdown of 'Title IV' and 'Part D' to help you better understand how the phrase Title IV-D relates to your child support case: 

  • 'Title IV' of the Social Security Act covers grants to states for the purpose of providing assistance to families in need, in addition to child-welfare services
  • 'Part D' of the Social Security Act covers child support and the establishment of paternity

If your case is considered a Title IV case, then the state is most likely using grant funds to cover the administrative costs of issuing the order, and/or recovering and tracking child support paid. To learn more background on the law, read The History of Child Support in the U.S.

Uses of the Term 'IV-D'

You may hear the phrase 'IV-D' used in several different contexts. For example:

  • An IV-D agency - An IV-D agency is one that is funded by federal grants under Title IV of the Social Security Act of 1975
  • An IV-D case - An IV-D case is a child support case which is being investigated by an IV-D agency (as opposed to a case where the state is not involved in establishing the order)

    What Parents Need to Know

    While the most jaded workers at your local child support enforcement agency may make the term 'IV-D' sound negative, it isn't. The phrase simply means that the state is officially intervening on your children's behalf to ensure that they receive ongoing financial support from both parents. This may include following up with the parent who owes child support, issuing a new child support order, collecting unpaid child support, or modifying an existing child support order.

    IV-D Services for Single Parents

    Officials at your local Title IV-D agency can help you open a child support case, recover unpaid child support, or request a child support modification. While many of the services offered benefit custodial single parents, the intent is to support the children—rather than taking sides between two parents. Furthermore, IV-D services aren't limited to custodial parents. Either parent can request help through an IV-D agency. For example, a non-custodial parent who can't afford to pay child support on time due to job loss might ask for a temporary or permanent child support modification.