Absent Parent Location

In recent years, and especially since the advent of PACSES, great advances have been made in new technologies to aid us in locating an absent parent. Still there are limitations—legal constraints, costs, insufficient information—to what can be done. Customers need to have a realistic expectation of what can be done.


PACSES is very automated. When the system detects a missing address, employer, or birth date for a plaintiff or defendant, an electronic search begins immediately, without the need of worker intervention. But it needs a minimum amount of data to begin the process (see Intake, What to Bring with You). Even if we had an address or an employer, as soon as a worker verifies that the address or employment is no longer valid and end-dates that information within the system, PACSES begins the search for current information.

If new information is received and validated, the entry of that information removes the case from the Locate function, allowing other establishment or enforcement processes to occur. For instance, when a new employer is entered, and an order for support has already been established, PACSES will automatically issue a wage withholding order to the new employer.

Automatic matching constantly occurs between the National Directory of New Hires and the Federal Case Registry. In addition the Federal Parent Locate Service matches with:
  • Social Security Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
Each of these sources has limitations, not the least of which is time. For example, an address or employer provided by IRS is from an individual’s tax return. That information may or may not still be accurate.

In addition to these automated searches, Locate Unit staff follow up on leads provided by plaintiffs and others, checking local records, requesting information from former employers and utilities companies, for example.


One of the best sources of information locating an absent parent or his or her employer comes from the custodial parent. The custodial parent is often still tapped into a network of family and friends who care about the children and are willing to help. Also, the custodial parent is generally focused on finding one person, whereas the Locate Unit is looking for thousands. The Locate Unit is happy to take any good information and to attempt to validate it.


We have had limited success with location via the Internet. Custodial Parents who think they have located the Absent Parent through the Internet sometimes wonder why we can’t do the same. Unfortunately, locating a person on the Internet can be fraught with difficulty. When PACSES finds a match through a link to SSA or IRS, it is positively matching name, Social Security number, and date of birth. One rarely gets anything but a name on an Internet name search. Just because there is a Jim Smith at an address in Houston, Texas, does not mean that he is the right Jim Smith. There can be legal implications about taking an action against the wrong person. So unless the Absent Parent has a rather unusual name, it is best to proceed with caution. In fact, with out a Social Security number or date of birth, no true search can begin.


In order to establish a support order or paternity, it is necessary to serve the other party with legal notice of a scheduled conference (hearing) and his or her required attendance. If an order has already been established, the order will continue to accrue arrearages based upon the established obligation while we attempt to locate the Absent Parent.

If we are unable to secure a verifiable address or employer for an Absent Parent after three (3) years of effort, we will close the case after notice to the Custodial Parent. If, at future time the Custodial Parent supplies us with new information which leads to a verifiable address or employer, we will re-open the case. Arrears will continue to accrue retroactive to the closing of the case.