TAFDC child support rules

Also in
Show Endnotes
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

The TAFDC child support rules require most people who apply for TAFDC to "cooperate" in identifying and locating the parent of each child. You must make a good faith effort to help identify and cooperate with child support enforcement unless you have a good reason not to.

Can I get child support while I am getting TAFDC?

While you are on TAFDC, DTA will keep most of the child support that is paid by the other parent. DTA will send you the first $50 a month. DTA will keep the rest of the monthly child support to pay themselves back for the TAFDC you are getting. Even if more than one parent is paying child support, DTA will only send you $50 a month. 

If the amount of child support paid by the other parent is more than the amount of your TAFDC grant for 2 months in a row, DTA should tell you. They will close your TAFDC case, and you should get the higher child support amount paid to you directly. 

Do I have to tell DTA anything about the other parent of my child?

Yes, unless you have a good reason not to.

You have to cooperate with the Child Support Enforcement Unit of the Department of Revenue (DOR) to prove the absent parent is the parent of your child and get a child support order. You will be asked to give DTA specific information about the child's other parent. If you do not have this information, you will have to give DTA all the information you do have. You will also have to give a sworn statement showing how you tried to get the information DTA asked for. 


The child support rules apply to mothers as well as fathers. A mother who does not live with the child can also be ordered to pay child support. 

Once you give this information, DTA will give it to DOR. DOR will check to see if it is accurate. You may also have to go to court if there is a child support proceeding in court. However, you may have a good reason for not doing this. Learn about good reasons not to cooperate.

Nonparent caretaker relatives must also meet child support cooperation rules for at least one of the child's parents, unless you are not getting TAFDC yourself. This is a good reason not to cooperate. If a child is living with other relatives because both parents are absent, the relative must give whatever information they have on the parents.


You cannot be sanctioned (lose benefits) if you do not have the information as long as you cooperate in good faith.

I'm taking care of a child on TAFDC but I am not the parent. Do I have to tell DTA about the parents of the child?

No. You are not required to give DTA information about the child's parents for child support purposes. 

For example, a grandparent or other relative who is taking care of a child on TAFDC does not need to give information to DTA about the parent, if the caregiver thinks that getting child support from the parent is not in the best interests of the child.

What counts as a good reason for a parent not to cooperate?

You do not have to cooperate if you have one of the following good reasons (sometimes called “good cause”):

  • The pregnancy was the result of rape or incest,
  • You are planning to give up your child for adoption,
  • You or your child would suffer from "serious emotional or physical harm" by cooperating with these rules. For example, if you know who the father is and he was abusive or has threatened you,
  • You are from Cuba or Haiti, you recently came to the US, and the parent of one or more of your children is temporarily not living with you but is trying to join you as soon as they can. 

Your DTA worker has to ask you about good reasons and explain to you what “good cause” is. Your worker should tell you if DTA needs any proof. Caregivers who are getting TAFDC for a dependent child but not for themselves never need to give DTA proof of this good reason to not cooperate.

Tell your worker if you are afraid the other parent may hurt you or your child, or if you have one of the other good reasons.  If the reason has to do with safety or domestic violence, DTA must connect you to a DTA Domestic Violence Specialist.

Learn more about TAFDC for survivors of domestic violence.

What happens if DTA agrees I have a good reason not to cooperate with child support enforcement?

If DTA agrees that you have a good reason for not cooperating, DTA will do one of two things.

  • DTA may decide not to let the Department of Revenue go after child support or
  • DTA may decide that DOR can go after child support but you will not have to go to court or help.

If you are unhappy with DTA’s decision, you have the right to appeal.


DOR may try to seek support from the non custodial parent even if you have a good reason not to cooperate. You should get notice of this. Check with an advocate if it is a problem for you.

What if I don't have information about the other parent?

DTA cannot deny your benefits or sanction you just because you do not have information about the other parent. Contact your local Legal Services right away if DTA or DOR:

  • threatens to deny your application, 
  • cuts you off for lack of information, or 
  • if DOR unreasonably asks you to track down information you don't have.
How can I challenge the loss of benefits?

If DTA denies, reduces or stops your benefits, you have the right to appeal. If you get a written notice saying you have failed to cooperate with the child support rules, you can ask for a hearing. Learn more about appealing.


Was this page helpful?