As the U.S. economy continues to stagnate, more children in Connecticut are living in poverty. A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed that more than 86,000 children in Connecticut — or about 10 percent of the state's children — live below the federal poverty level. The need of Connecticut's children motivated the state to step up child support order enforcement collection efforts, bringing in over $300 million dollars in fiscal year 2010.
Child support orders are as serious as any other order that the court issues. Unfortunately, many parents discount child support orders and believe that they do not have to pay the court-ordered amount. However, there are ways that custodial parents can collect child support from noncustodial parents and also ways to punish noncustodial parents for failure to pay.
Purpose of CT Child Support
According to Connecticut case law, the purpose of child support orders is not "to equalize the available income of divorced parents," but rather "to provide for the care and wellbeing of minor children." Child support orders are intended to ensure that parents share the financial responsibilities for raising their children and that one parent does not bear the whole burden alone.
Connecticut uses an "income shares" model to determine a parent's support obligation. The court looks at the income of both parents and the needs of the child for medical care, child care and basic needs, and uses those factors to determine an amount that the non-custodial parent must pay. The income shares model is based on the assumption that the child should share in the amount of his or her parents' incomes as if the parents were still together.
How Are Child Support Orders Paid?
The easiest way for people to meet their child support obligations is for one parent to pay the other parent the funds directly at regular intervals, such as sending a monthly check. However, when a parent refuses to meet his or her child support obligations, there are other ways to enforce child support orders, including:
- Garnishing the non-paying parent's wages, Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, workers' compensation benefits or retirement benefits
- Intercepting federal and state income tax refunds
- Bringing a motion in court to hold the delinquent parent in contempt until he or she pays
- Liens on personal injury awards or lottery winnings
- Attaching personal or real property to a judgment
Repercussions for Not Paying Child Support Orders
Those who fail to pay child support face a number of possible penalties, including:
- License revocation, such as revocation of driver's licenses, recreational licenses and professional licenses
- Jail time, if the court finds the parent in contempt for violating the court order to pay child support
- Reporting the delinquency in payments to a credit agency, thereby lowering the noncustodial parent's credit score
Child support payments are important to help protect and care for children. If you are having issues with child support, meet with a family law attorney who can discuss your options with you.