The support of both parents is essential for the development and welfare of a child. Usually, in a family, both parents take care of the child and see to the provision of all the child’s needs. However, when the parents are not together, one of them may neglect the duties and leave it all to the custodial parent. To ensure that there is a form of balance in responsibility, child support laws have been put in place. These laws also make sure that the child gets the best quality of life possible, given the current situation.
Child Support Process
The Wyoming Child Support Program (WCSP) is administered by the Department of Family Services. Child support services are available to custodial parents, or guardians of a child who want to establish or enforce a child support order, regardless of their income levels. Parents who wish to get child support services are required to submit an application using through the online portal at https://childsupport.wyoming.gov/apply/start.php. A $25 fee is charged for opening the case, and this later becomes a $25 annual fee deducted once more than $500 has been collected as child support for the year. Families who are receiving public financial assistance like Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are exempted from paying these fees.
The WCSP provides various forms of child support services like locating noncustodial parents, establishing paternity, establishing child support orders, enforcing child support orders, reviewing, and modifying child support orders, etc. When completing the child support application, there are several details of the noncustodial parent which are requested. These include name, address, phone number, employment information, etc. These details help the WCSP locate the custodial parent so that the case can progress. The noncustodial parent must be served a notice of the child support case before the hearing can commence. The WCSP may also make use of state and federal locator services to find the noncustodial parent. This can be quite helpful if the parent lives in a different state.
After locating the noncustodial parent, it is important to establish the paternity (legal fatherhood) of the child. For parents who were married when the child was born, or if the child was born within 300 days after the marriage was terminated, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the father of the child by law. However, if the mother was unmarried when the child was born, the child would not have a legal father until paternity has been established. This is usually done in either of two ways. The first is applicable of both parents agree on who the child’s father is. In this case, they can fill an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity, after which the man is taken to be the child’s legal father. A copy of the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/WDH_VSS-Affidavit-Acknowledging-Paternity-Form-1-2017.pdf. On the other hand, if there is a doubt as to who the child’s actual father is, DNA testing may be requested. The cost of the test is usually borne by the man if he is proven to be the father of the child.
Once the paternity of the child has been established, the Wyoming Child Support Program can go about establishing the actual child support order.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
Custodial parents in Wyoming may receive their child support payments using either of two options.
- Way2Go Card: The Way2Go card is a debit card that is issued to custodial parents who have not registered a bank account on which to receive their child support payments. The payments are loaded onto the card once they become available from the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The card is provided by Comerica Bank and can be used in the same way as a normal debit card at all locations that accept MasterCard. Special fees may apply to certain card services, and the card does not have an overdraft or credit allowance.
- Direct Deposit: Parents may also register their savings or checking account to receive their child support payments. This option allows the funds to be paid directly into the authorized account, which would enable them to access easily.
To select any of the options, parents can fill the relevant section of the Electronic Payment Authorization Form found at https://childsupport.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Electronic_Payment_Authorization_Form_03262019.pdf. This form also contains the fee schedules for the Way2Go card.
Amount Receivable as Child Support
The state provides an official child support calculator at https://childsupport.wyoming.gov/calculator/. However, this is for estimation purposes as the actual child support may vary from values gotten from the calculator. The WCSP considers the net income of both parents, the custody arrangement, the number of children, other support obligations of the parents, special medical needs, etc. when deciding on the amount of money to award as monthly child support.
Enforcement of Child Support
Child support payments are very important in providing a good quality of life for the child. Often, the noncustodial parents default on their payments, make late payments, or do not pay in full. In such a situation, there are enforcement and collection methods that can be applied to recover the child support payments. They include:
- Withholding part of the noncustodial parent’s income
- Reporting to credit bureaus
- Denying passport applications
- Placing liens on bank accounts of the parent
- Intercepting tax refunds
- Suspending Game and Fish Department licenses
- Suspending driver’s licenses
- suspending professional licenses
- Federal prosecution.
The parent is usually served a notice before these enforcement actions come into effect.