1997 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representative Blackmon
House Bill 778
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 43-19-35 AND 43-19-37, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS TO BE DIRECTED BY THE ABSENT PARENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES CENTRAL DISBURSEMENT UNIT; TO PROVIDE THAT COPIES OF ORDERS ESTABLISHED OR MODIFIED IN MISSISSIPPI SHALL BE FORWARDED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES CASE REGISTRY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-19-35, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-19-35. (1) By accepting public assistance for and on behalf of a child or children, the recipient shall be deemed to have made an assignment to the State Department of Human Services of any and all rights and interests in any cause of action, past, present or future, that said recipient or the children may have against any parent failing to provide for the support and maintenance of said minor child or children for the period of time that assistance is being paid by said department; said department shall be subrogated to any and all rights, title and interest the recipient or the children may have against any and all property belonging to the absent or nonsupporting parent in the enforcement of any claim for child or spousal support, whether liquidated through court order or not. The recipient shall also be deemed, without the necessity of signing any document, to have appointed the State Department of Human Services to act in his or her, as well as the children's name, place, and stead to perform the specific act of instituting suit to establish paternity or secure support, collecting any and all amounts due and owing for child or spousal support as required or permitted under Title IV-D of the Federal Social Security Act, and endorsing any and all drafts, checks, money orders or other negotiable instruments representing child or spousal support payments which are received on behalf of the recipient or the children, and retaining any portion thereof permitted under federal and state statutes as reimbursement for public assistance monies previously paid to the recipient or children.
(2) Court orders of support for any child or children receiving services through Title IV-D of the Federal Social Security Act shall be amended, by operation of law, and without the necessity of a motion by the Child Support Unit and a hearing thereon to provide that the payment of support shall be directed by the absent parent to the Department of Human Services Central Disbursement Unit as provided in Section 43-19-37 and not to the recipient. The absent parent shall be notified of such amendment prior to it taking effect.
(3) Any attorney initiating legal proceedings under Sections 43-19-31 through 43-19-53 shall be deemed to represent the interest of the State Department of Human Services exclusively; no attorney-client relationship shall exist between said attorney and any recipient of services pursuant to Title IV-D of the Federal Social Security Act for and on behalf of a child or children, regardless of the name in which the legal proceedings are initiated.
(4) Said assignment to the State Department of Human Services shall be free of any legal or equitable defense to the payment of child support that may accrue to any person legally liable for the support of any child or children receiving aid from the State Department of Human Services, as a result of the conduct of the person who is accepting public assistance for and on behalf of said child or children.
SECTION 2. Section 43-19-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-19-37. Court orders of support in all cases brought under the provisions of Sections 43-19-31 through 43-19-53 shall specify that the payment of court costs shall be directed by the absent parent to the Department of Human Services Central Disbursement Unit for further disbursement in the manner as prescribed by Title IV-D of the Federal Social Security Act. Attorney's fees, if any, shall be paid directly to the Department of Human Services Central Disbursement Unit in cases instituted by the department, in a manner separate and distinct from the payment of child support. Payments for costs of court shall be promptly paid by the absent parent to the appropriate clerk of court. Any payments made by the absent parent directly to the recipient or applicant in violation of the court order shall not be deemed to be a support payment and shall not be credited to the court-ordered obligation of said absent parent. Failure of the absent parent to comply with an order of support for a period of thirty (30) days shall be directed to the court having jurisdiction of the matter for contempt proceedings or execution issued in the manner and form prescribed by statute. Should civil proceedings become ineffective in producing support in any case involving a legitimate child or a child wherein paternity has been established by law or acknowledged in writing, the case shall promptly be referred to the district attorney for prosecution as a violation of Section 97-5-3.
A copy of each support order established or modified in Mississippi on or after October 1, 1998, shall be forwarded to the Department of Human Services Case Registry by the clerk of the court upon entry of judgment.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after January 1, 1998.