The parents of a child may separate for different reasons. This often leaves the child stuck with one parent who may not be able to provide all that is necessary for child welfare. Expenses such as feeding, clothing, medical care, school fees, etc. may be a financial burden too much for just one to bear. To assist with this, and to balance out the cost of caring for a child, there are child support laws in Connecticut that determine how much each custodial parent is entitled to receive from their non-custodial counterparts for child upbringing.
Child Support Process After Divorce
In Connecticut, custodial parents demanding child support may hire an attorney to represent them in court or stand to represent themselves. However, the easiest way is to go through the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) which is under the Connecticut Department of Social Services and is in charge of handling child support cases. A custodial parent can apply for child support by completing and submitting the form at https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Departments-and-Agencies/DSS/Child-Support/f0699n.pdf?la=en&hash=2B16C2220D3951A5B377C8859EADED51. This application is free and will not be charged for. The OCSS will however collect $35 annually from the child support payments. This will only be collected if the amount of child support received is greater than $550 and the custodial parent has never been a receiver of public financial assistance.
After submitting the form, the OCSS helps in locating the non-custodial parent so that they can be notified of the request for child support. Sometimes it happens that the paternity of the child is contested or under question. In cases like this, the Office of Child Support Services will make provisions to establish the paternity of the child. This is done by DNA testing, with 99% accuracy. Swabs are collected from the inner cheek of the claimed father and the child and taken to a lab for analysis. Legal paternity can also be established if it is determined that both parents were married at the time the child was born. The OCSS may require some documents from the custodial parent filing for child support. Often these documents include identification cards, pay stubs, details of the non-custodial parent, etc. Failure to provide the required documents may stall the case and prevent the parent from receiving cash benefits.
When all required items are provided and paternity has been determined, the OCSS can then go about with establishing a child support order. Medical support orders may also be issued to cover extraordinary medical care costs or insurance payments. Following this, the OCSS will receive the payments from the non-custodial parent and disburse them to the custodial parent.
For further details on the Office of Child Support Services application, visit https://portal.ct.gov/DSS/Child-Support/Child-Support/Application-for-Services and https://portal.ct.gov/DSS/Child-Support/Child-Support/Overview. A quick guide to child support processes in the state can also be found at https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Departments-and-Agencies/DSS/Child-Support/guidetocsservices.pdf?la=en&hash=0733B2375C659229022AD8163DFE5E1A.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
The OCSS allows custodial parents to pick their preferred method of receiving child support payments. The money could come in via a direct deposit arrangement. In this case, the funds are applied to the bank account of the parent receiving support. For this arrangement to work, the custodial parent must already have an existing savings account or a checking account to register with the OCSS.
Parents who do not have a bank account can opt to receive their child support payments through the Connecticut child support debit card. The funds will be paid directly to the card and used from there. Holders of this debit card can use them to make withdrawals or purchase items. Additional details on this are available at http://www.ctchildsupport.com/.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
In deciding how much the non-custodial parent owes as child support, the court makes use of certain guidelines. These guidelines give an idea of what the financial obligation should be after considering things like income, number of children, medical benefits, etc. Parents whose employers offer medical insurance at a reasonable cost may also have a medical insurance order set. Overall, the guidelines give a mathematical formula for fairly distributing the obligations of child support between both parents. Child support orders also change as the income of parents changes. The child support guidelines give percentages of income to be paid for various income brackets ranging from $50 to $4000. Parents with income below $50 are exempted from child support payments. Those with a combined income greater than $4000 will have their obligation calculated by multiplying the applicable percentage for $4000 by their actual income. For more of these guideline details, visit https://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/ChildSupport/CSguidelines.pdf.
Enforcement of Child Support
The Office of Child Support Services has a duty to also enforce the child support orders that have been issued. To do this, certain actions may be taken against parents who default and are owing child support. The OCSS may seize various financial assets of the parent, make a report to the credit bureau, withhold income, intercept lottery winnings, withhold tax refunds and even initiate a passport denial for the parent. These are done with hopes of coercing the non-custodial parent to pay what he/she owes. In some cases, the parent may eventually be prosecuted for failure to pay up. It is important to note that child support services can still be provided even if the non-custodial parent does not reside in the state.