OBTAINING AND ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT IN CONNECTICUT
Parents in Hartford County and throughout the state of Connecticut who have come to the realization that they are unable to stay together in the same household will often be faced with several issues that concern their children. Inevitably, once the couple is separated, child support payments may become a central issue in the divorce or parenting arrangement.
Generally speaking, the purpose or goal of child support is to ensure that a child’s standard of living does not change too much after a divorce is finalized (if the parents were married) or the parents have parted ways (if the parents were unmarried). That being said, there are a few things that parents should keep in mind as they go through the process of seeking and obtaining child support.
Obtaining child support
In order to obtain child support in Connecticut, a parent must first obtain a court order. That order will set forth the amount of monetary support that is to be paid for each child, as well as the requirements with respect to providing health insurance and child care provisions when necessary.
There are times when a non-custodial parent is willing to make child support payments on his or her own; however, even if such a voluntary agreement is reached, that agreement must still be approved by the court.
In Connecticut, there are three ways in which a parent can obtain child support:
· Apply for the free child support services that are offered by the state through the Department of Social Services.
· Go to court as a pro se petitioner (a person who represents himself/herself without the benefit of an attorney).
· Obtain the services of a lawyer who is familiar with family law and child support issues.
Obtaining a child support order is an important step in the process, but there’s also the actual enforcement of the child support order. Enforcing the order is a crucial step in actually receiving the financial support that’s required to help raise the child or children.
Enforcing the child support Order
One question that is typically on the minds of many parents who have obtained a court order is, “How will the child support order be enforced?” If the parent has applied for child support enforcement services through the Department of Social Services, the Support Enforcement Services Unit can seek enforcement on a parent’s behalf in a variety of ways.
One way in which Support Enforcement Services Unit can enforce the court order is to seek to withhold money directly from the non-custodial parent’s income by way of a garnishing his or her wages, retirement benefits, workers’ compensation payments or overtime pay.
Additionally, the Support Enforcement Services Unit might seek an order of contempt against the non-paying parent, meaning that the court would find that the non-custodial parent willingly disobeyed a court order. If such a finding is made, that parent can be sent to jail until a certain amount of money has been paid.
Another way that the Support Enforcement Services Unit can seek enforcement is by seeking to have the license of the non-paying parent suspended after a 30-day period of non-payment. This can cover any license carried by the non-paying parent, such as a driver’s license, professional license or occupational license.
Parents who have elected not to use the child support enforcement services offered by the state can always seek to obtain an order of contempt on their own or through the use of an attorney who is familiar with the state laws regarding child support collection and enforcement. An attorney will be able to answer any questions that a parent might have with respect to the issues surrounding family law and child support.