2001 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representative Ketchings
House Bill 1395
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE FRIEND OF THE COURT TO ASSIST IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS, CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION; TO PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF NONJUDICIAL EFFORTS TO IMPROVE COMPLIANCE WITH A COURT ORDER; TO PROVIDE FOR REPORTING; TO AUTHORIZE THE USE OF ELECTRONIC MEANS OF ACCESS TO RECORDS; TO PROVIDE FOR COMPENSATION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) After an order for child support or possession of or access to a child has been rendered, a court may appoint a friend of the court on:
(a) The request of a person alleging that the order has been violated; or
(b) Its own motion.
(2) A court may appoint a friend of the court in a proceeding under Part D of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 USCS 651 et seq.) only if the Title IV-D agency agrees in writing to the appointment.
(3) The duration of the appointment of a friend of the court is as determined by the court.
(4) In the appointment of a friend of the court, the court shall give preference to:
(a) Local domestic relations office;
(b) A local child support collection office; or
(c) An attorney on good standing with the Mississippi Bar.
(5) In the execution of a friend of the court's duties under this act, a friend of the court shall represent the court to ensure compliance with the court's order.
SECTION 2. (1) A friend of the court may coordinate nonjudicial efforts to improve compliance with a court order relating to a child support or possession of or access to a child by use of:
(a) Telephone communication;
(b) Written communication;
(c) One or more volunteer advocates;
(d) Informal pretrial consultation;
(e) One or more of the alternate dispute resolution methods;
(f) A certified social worker;
(g) A family mediator; and
(h) Employment agencies, retraining programs, and any similar resources to ensure that both parents can meet their financial obligations to the child.
(2) A friend of the court, not later than the fifteenth day of the month following the reporting month, shall:
(a) Report to the court or monitor reports made to the court on:
(i) The amount of child support collected as a percentage of the amount ordered; and
(ii) Efforts to ensure compliance with orders relating to possession of or access to a child; and
(b) File an action to enforce, clarify, or modify a court order relating to child support or possession of or access to a child.
(3) A friend of the court may file a notice of delinquency and a request for a writ of income withholding in order to enforce a child support order.
SECTION 3. A local domestic relations office, a local registry, or a court official designated to receive child support under a court order shall, if ordered by the court, report to the court or a friend of the court on a monthly basis:
(a) Any delinquency and arrearage in child support payments; and
(b) Any violation of an order relating to possession of or access to a child.
SECTION 4. A friend of the court may arrange access to child support payment records by electronic means if the records are computerized.
SECTION 5. (1) A friend of the court is entitled to compensation for services rendered and for expenses incurred in rendering the services.
(2) The court may assess the amount that the friend of the court receives in compensation against a party to the suit in the same manner as the court awards costs.
SECTION 6. The provisions of this act shall be supplemental to any other provisions of law.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2001.