Child support refers to the financial obligations of parents to provide support for their child. This is especially important when both parents are not together anymore, and the burden would otherwise rest on only one person. Child support, therefore, ensures that the child has a better quality of life.
Child Support Process After Divorce
The child support program in Louisiana is administered by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Custodial parents who wish to apply for child support can do so online or submit a paper application. The online application can be completed at https://cafe-cp.dcfs.la.gov/selfservice/, while details on the paper application and instructions on the procedure can be found at http://www.dss.state.la.us/assets/docs/searchable/ChildSupportServices/Applications/CSE101Application_wCSEFlyer2.doc. An application fee of $25 is charged for all parents who are not receiving public financial assistance. Applications will not be processed until the fee is paid.
While filling out the application, the custodial parent will be required to fill out personal details as well as some details about the noncustodial parent. This information which includes the name, home address, work address, social security number (if known) of the noncustodial parent may be helpful in moving the case forward. This is because the information could come in handy in locating the noncustodial parent and this is necessary for the case to progress. Custodial parents can use Child Support Enforcement locator services for a $10 fee with the non-custodial parent’s Social Security number (SSN) or a $14 fee without the SSN.
Once the noncustodial parent is located, they are served with a notice of the child support case being brought against them. If the child was born out of wedlock, the father is not responsible for child support payments until paternity is established. This can be done in either of two ways. The first is an Affidavit of Acknowledgement which the alleged father can sign to accept that he is the father of the child. Hospital personnel is required to provide unmarried parents the opportunity to sign an acknowledgment of paternity when the child is born. If the paternity of the child is disputed, the court may order genetic testing to determine the paternity of the child. For the court to issue a paternity order, the probability of paternity as determined from the test must be 99.9% or higher, the highest standard in America. The paternity tests cost $62 per person.
The court then awards child support in line with state guidelines, with consideration for the income of both parents.
For further information, visit http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/142.
If after establishing the child support order, there is a change of circumstances, the parent can request for a modification of the child support order to reflect these changes. To request a review, parents can visit http://www.dss.state.la.us/form/109.
How To Receive Child Support?
The DCFA allows parents to receive their child support funds through direct deposit. This is an electronic transfer of the funds to a bank account specified by the parent which allows safe and easy receipt of funds. This is possible for custodial parents who have an active savings or checking account in their name, and who fill the Direct Deposit Authorization Form and submit it along with the required documentation. The Direct Deposit Authorization Form can be obtained from http://www.dss.state.la.us/assets/docs/searchable/ChildSupportServices/Applications/DirectDepositAuthorizationForm.pdf.
Further details on the direct deposit arrangement are available at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/page/187.
Amount Receivable as Child Support
In awarding child support payments, there are important factors that are taken into consideration. The court estimates the income of the parents, the cost of raising the child at various income levels, the number of children (if more than one), preexisting child support obligations, special needs of the child, how much time the child spends with each parent (in cases of joint custody), etc. If any of the parents pays for the medical insurance of the child, this is also taken into account. A full list of the guidelines can be found at http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?p=y&d=107373. With all the information provided, the court is able to decide on a proper amount that should be paid as child support to the custodial parent.
Enforcement of Child Support
Child support enforcement can be done in a variety of ways, through actions intended to coerce a parent who defaults on child support payments. Often, the money is deducted directly from the income of the noncustodial parent and processed for payment to the custodial parent. Over 65% of child support cases in Louisiana are processed this way. Other actions may be taken, like interception of tax refunds, interception of lottery winnings, suspension of vehicle registrations, suspension of professional and recreational licenses, denial of passport applications, etc. In extreme cases, court action can be taken, and this may result in jail time. The details of parents who have not made any payments in 6 months are also published. Information on this can be found at http://www.dss.state.la.us/directory/child-support-delinquent-payors,