October 2, 2007 — Total Divorce has recently depicted how Connecticut has been one of the most aggressive states in the country in terms of getting noncustodial parents to pay past-due child support payments.
From recently changing Connecticut child support laws in several areas to targeting child support payments through the federal Passport Denial program, the state is bringing the heat to these financially-delinquent parents without child custody.
With that said, a recent story in The Hartford Courant revealed a flaw with the bolstered child support enforcement in the state, especially in terms of whom will fit an annual bill starting next month after the state gets involved and helps secure delinquent child support payments.
More specifically, the story detailed the case of Lisa Zawisza, a working mother who enlisted the help of the state Department of Social Service's child support enforcement program to get $150 a week from her ex-husband for the couple's nine-year old daughter.
It turns out that under the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, signed by President George W. Bush as a means to curtail government spending on entitlement programs shared with states, Connecticut is required to deduct an annual fee from child support payments that were secured by state efforts.
While the annual fee is only $25 per year, it is especially disturbing that the state will make the parent with custody foot this bill rather than the parent who was delinquent on child support to begin with.
In other words, it is Zawisza rather than her ex-husband who will have to pay the annual $25 fee. Zawisza said in the story that this $25 would help her pay for her child's daily lunch and a week's worth of gas to drive her daughter to school and after-school day care.
This fee will be applied to custodial parents who receive at least $500 of child support through the Connecticut child support enforcement program while parents on public assistance like welfare are exempt.
With this in mind, each state has the option of collecting the child support fee from the custodial or the noncustodial parent, or paying the fee out itself. Matthew Barrett, a spokesman for the state DSS, said that it is administratively easier and more cost effective to collect the Connecticut child support fee from the custodial parent.
Barrett further elaborated that if the state were to collect this fee from the noncustodial parents, the state would first have to pay the money to the federal government and then go to court to ask for a motion to add the fee to the noncustodial parent's monthly child support payments.
Currently, there are about 15,000 Connecticut child support cases that meet the requirements for a fee, with the state expected to collect more than $350,000 each year when administrative costs are taken into consideration.
In Virginia, custodial parents are also being hit with such a fee. Some custodial parents in the state have turned to state legislators after having no such success with federal ones in terms of fighting the fee.
Will applicable Connecticut custodial parents be prompted to take similar action?