Maine Child Support: Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery (DSER)
The Division is responsible for the development and implementation of the rules, regulations, policies and procedures necessary to assure that all non-custodial parents are contributing to the economic support of their children.
Maine's Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery ("DSER") is a Division of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Office for Family Independence. The Program was established in 1975 pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
Upon referral or application, DSER shall provide support enforcement services for all children who are owed a duty of financial support from their parent(s), regardless of their place of residence, circumstances, or whether they qualify for assistance. There is currently no application fee for those requesting DSER services, though there is a $25 per case fee deducted each year from collections totaling over $500. DSER may seek to establish/enforce child support obligations under any appropriate statutes.
What does DSER do?
Paternity – Both parents should be involved in the support of the children they created together. Most fathers want to financially support their children and play a role in their lives, if they are certain that they are the biological father. DSER helps to establish fatherhood by using painless and non-invasive genetic testing. Find out more about DSER's paternity establishment services.
Child Support Obligations - Although some non-custodial parents (those with whom the children do not live primarily) voluntarily support their children, others are more hesitant to begin paying support, or are unsure how much financial support is appropriate. For these cases, DSER will use the Administrative Process to establish a child support obligation. A child support obligation may also be established in the Family Court by filing a divorce or parental rights and responsibilities (if the couple is not married) proceeding. On occasion, a child support obligation is established through the Probate Court or through a Protection from Abuse order. An order may also be established for children within the Foster Care system. Learn more about DSER's order establishment services.
DSER uses the Federal Parent Locator Service ("FPLS") to find parents when necessary, even if those parents live outside of Maine. Learn more about the FPLS.
Collecting Child Support for Families:
If you request "limited services" from DSER, we will serve as a pass-through of the amount paid by the non-custodial parent and distribute it to you and your children. If you request "full services" through a non-welfare application (PDF), DSER will perform all steps necessary to be sure that the ordered amount of support is paid and distributed to you. If you are receiving TANF benefits, we will collect child support and use it to reimburse the money sent to you through public assistance. Some non-custodial parents send checks, money orders, or pay their support electronically, but collection of support is most often done through wage garnishment with the use of a federal income withholding order ("FIWO").
Enforcement of Child Support Obligations:
In cases in which the non-custodial parent needs extra encouragement to pay his or her ordered support, DSER has methods to compel payment. Some of the ways DSER enforces support orders are by garnishment of bank accounts, liens on property, tax refund intercept, lottery and gambling winning intercept, license and passport revocation, seizure and sale of items such as motorcycles, boats and cars, and court actions filed by the Office of the Attorney General. We will do our best to employ all methods of enforcement at our disposal to help secure the financial well-being of Maine's children.
Child support enforcement services do not include:
- Giving legal advice
- Getting divorce judgments or spousal support orders
- Enforcing visitation rights
- Collecting spousal support-only orders
- Getting involved in custody matters
- Enforcing property settlements
Welcome to DSER, and please let us know how we can help you to support your children financially!