Connecticut Seal

Senate Bill No. 973

Public Act No. 03-89

AN ACT CONCERNING THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE CHILD SUPPORT PROGRAM.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (b) of section 17b-90 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(b) No person shall, except for purposes directly connected with the administration of programs of the Department of Social Services and in accordance with the regulations of the commissioner, solicit, disclose, receive or make use of, or authorize, knowingly permit, participate in or acquiesce in the use of, any list of the names of, or any information concerning, persons applying for or receiving assistance from the Department of Social Services or persons participating in a program administered by said department, directly or indirectly derived from the records, papers, files or communications of the state or its subdivisions or agencies, or acquired in the course of the performance of official duties. [However, the] The Commissioner of Social Services shall disclose (1) to any authorized representative of the Labor Commissioner such information directly related to unemployment compensation, administered pursuant to chapter 567 or information necessary for implementation of sections 17b-688b, 17b-688c and 17b-688h and section 122 of public act 97-2 of the June 18 special session*, (2) to any authorized representative of the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services any information necessary for the implementation and operation of the basic needs supplement program or for the management of and payment for behavioral health services for applicants for and recipients of general assistance and state-administered general assistance, (3) to any authorized representative of the Commissioner of Administrative Services, or the Commissioner of Public Safety such information as the state Commissioner of Social Services determines is directly related to and necessary for the Department of Administrative Services or the Department of Public Safety for purposes of performing their functions of collecting social services recoveries and overpayments or amounts due as support in social services cases, investigating social services fraud or locating absent parents of public assistance recipients, (4) to any authorized representative of the Commissioner of Children and Families necessary information concerning a child or the immediate family of a child receiving services from the Department of Social Services, including safety net services, if the Commissioner of Children and Families or the Commissioner of Social Services has determined that imminent danger to such child's health, safety or welfare exists to target the services of the family services programs administered by the Department of Children and Families, (5) to a town official or other contractor or authorized representative of the Labor Commissioner such information concerning an applicant for or a recipient of financial or medical assistance under general assistance or state-administered general assistance deemed necessary by said commissioners to carry out their respective responsibilities to serve such persons under the programs administered by the Labor Department that are designed to serve applicants for or recipients of general assistance or state-administered general assistance, [or] (6) to any authorized representative of the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the purposes of the behavioral health managed care program established by section 17a-453, or (7) to a health insurance provider, in IV-D support cases, as defined in section 46b-231, information concerning a child and the custodial parent of such child that is necessary to enroll such child in a health insurance plan available through such provider when the noncustodial parent of such child is under court order to provide health insurance coverage but is unable to provide such information, provided the Commissioner of Social Services determines, after providing prior notice of the disclosure to such custodial parent and an opportunity for such parent to object, that such disclosure is in the best interests of the child. No such representative shall disclose any information obtained pursuant to this section, except as specified in this section. Any applicant for assistance provided through said department shall be notified that, if and when such applicant receives benefits, the department will be providing law enforcement officials with the address of such applicant upon the request of any such official pursuant to section 17b-16a.

Sec. 2. Subsections (h) and (i) of section 17b-179 of the general statutes are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(h) The Connecticut Child Support Enforcement Bureau shall provide, or arrange to provide through one or more of the state offices, departments and agencies the same services for obtaining and enforcing child support orders in cases in which children are not beneficiaries of TANF as in cases where children are the beneficiaries of such aid. Such services shall also be made available to residents of other states on the same terms as to residents of this state. Support services in non-TANF support cases will be provided upon application to the Connecticut Bureau of Child Support Enforcement by the person seeking to enforce a child support obligation and the payment of an application fee, [by such person,] pursuant to the provisions of subsection (i) of this section. In addition to the application fee, the Connecticut Child Support Enforcement Bureau may assess costs incurred for the establishment, enforcement or modification of a support order in non-TANF cases. Such assessment shall be based on a fee schedule adopted by the Department of Social Services pursuant to chapter 54. The fee schedule to be charged in non-TANF support cases shall be made available to any individual upon request. The Child Support Enforcement Bureau shall adopt procedures for the notification of Superior Court judges and family support magistrates when a fee has been assessed an obligee for support services and a Superior Court judge or a family support magistrate shall order the obligor to pay any such assessment to the Child Support Enforcement Bureau. In cases where such order is not entered, the obligee shall pay an amount based on a sliding scale not to exceed the obligee's ability to pay. The Department of Social Services shall adopt such sliding scale pursuant to chapter 54.

(i) In non-TANF child support cases, the state shall impose an application fee in an amount necessary to comply with federal law and regulations under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, which fee shall be paid by the state. The amount of such fee shall be established by regulations adopted, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, by the Commissioner of Social Services and shall not exceed twenty-five dollars or such higher or lower amount as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services may determine to be appropriate for any fiscal year to reflect increases or decreases in administrative costs. The court in which a child support obligation is sought to be enforced may order the obligor to reimburse the state for such application fee. Recipients of TANF or Medicaid assistance whose eligibility for aid is terminated shall be entitled to continuation of child support enforcement services without requiring an application or the payment of an application fee.

Sec. 3. Subsection (c) of section 31-254 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(c) (1) For the purposes of this section, "employer" does not include any department, agency or instrumentality of the United States; or any state agency performing intelligence or counterintelligence functions, if the head of such agency has determined that reporting pursuant to this section with respect to the employee could endanger the safety of the employee or compromise an ongoing investigation or intelligence mission. For the purposes of subsections (b) to (e), inclusive, of this section, the terms "employer" and "employee" shall include persons engaged in the acquisition and rendition, respectively, of independent contractual services, provided the expected value of such services for the calendar year next succeeding the effective date of the contract for such services, is at least five thousand dollars.

(2) An employer that has employees who are employed in this state and one or more other states and that transmits reports magnetically or electronically shall not be required to report to this state if such employer has designated another state in which it has employees to which it will transmit reports, provided such employer has notified the Labor Commissioner, in writing, as to which other state it has designated for the purpose of sending such reports.

Sec. 4. Section 46b-168a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(a) In any IV-D support case, as defined in subdivision (13) of subsection (b) of section 46b-231, in which the paternity of a child is at issue, or in any case in which a support enforcement agency is providing services to a petitioner in a proceeding under sections 46b-212 to 46b-213v, inclusive, in which the paternity of a child is at issue, the IV-D agency or the support enforcement agency shall require the child and all other parties other than individuals who have good cause for refusing to cooperate or who are subject to other exceptions to submit to genetic tests which shall mean deoxyribonucleic acid tests, to be performed by a hospital, accredited laboratory, qualified physician or other qualified person designated by such agency, to determine whether or not the putative father or husband is the father of the child, upon the request of any such party, provided such request is supported by a sworn statement by the party which either (1) alleges paternity and sets forth facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the requisite sexual contact between the parties, or (2) denies paternity and sets forth facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the nonexistence of sexual contact between the parties.

(b) The costs of making the tests provided by this section shall be paid by the state, provided if the putative father is the requesting party and he is subsequently adjudicated to be the father of the child, he shall be liable to the state for the amount of such costs to the extent of his ability to pay, in accordance with regulations adopted by the Commissioner of Social Services pursuant to subdivision (3) of subsection (c) of this section. Any court or family support magistrate may order such father to pay the state in accordance with this subsection. The contesting party shall make advance payment for any additional testing required in the event of a contest of the original test results.

(c) The Commissioner of Social Services shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to establish criteria for determining (1) good cause or other exceptions for refusing to cooperate under subsection (a) of this section, which shall include, but not be limited to, domestic violence, sexual abuse and lack of information and shall take into account the best interests of the child, (2) the sufficiency of the facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the existence or nonexistence of the requisite sexual contact between the parties, as required under subsection (a) of this section, and (3) the ability of the requesting party to pay the costs of the genetic tests in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.

Sec. 5. Subsection (u) of section 46b-231 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(u) (1) The Department of Social Services may in IV-D cases (A) bring petitions for support orders pursuant to section 46b-215, (B) obtain acknowledgments of paternity, (C) bring applications for show cause orders pursuant to section 46b-172, [and] (D) file agreements for support with the assistant clerk of the Family Support Magistrate Division, and (E) issue withholding orders entered by the Superior Court or a family support magistrate in accordance with subsection (b) of section 52-362, as amended by this act.

(2) The Department of Social Services shall provide notice not less than once every three years to the parents subject to a support order in a IV-D case informing the parents of their right to request a review under subdivision (4) of subsection (s) of this section.

Sec. 6. Subsections (d) and (e) of section 52-362 of the general statutes are repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(d) An obligor may claim a defense based upon mistake of fact, may claim an exemption in accordance with subsection (e) of this section with respect to the withholding order, or may file by motion a modification or defense to the support order being enforced by the withholding, by delivering a signed claim form, or other written notice or motion, with the address of the obligor thereon, indicating the nature of the claim or grounds of the motion, to the clerk of the Superior Court or the assistant clerk of the Family Support Magistrate Division within fifteen days of receipt of notice. [If a claim or motion is filed, imposition of the withholding order shall be stayed until the claim or motion is decided by the court or a family support magistrate. ] On receipt of the claim or motion, the clerk shall promptly enter the appearance of the obligor, set the matter for a short calendar hearing, send a file-stamped copy of the claim or motion to the person or agency of the state to whom the support order is payable and notify all parties of the hearing date set. The court or family support magistrate shall promptly hear and determine the claim or motion and notify the obligor within forty-five days from the date of the notice required under subsection (c) of this section of its determination. Unless the obligor successfully shows cause why the withholding order should not continue in effect, the court or family support magistrate shall order that the outstanding withholding order continue in effect against the nonexempt income of the obligor to the extent provided under subsection (e) of this section. The order shall be a final judgment for purposes of appeal. The effect of the withholding order shall not be stayed on appeal except by order of the court or a family support magistrate.

(e) A withholding order shall issue in the amount necessary to enforce a support order against only such nonexempt income of the obligor as exceeds the greater of (1) eighty-five per cent of the first one hundred forty-five dollars per week of disposable income, or (2) the amount exempt under Section 1673 of Title 15 of the United States Code, or against any lesser amount which the court or family support magistrate deems equitable. The withholding order shall secure payment of past and future amounts due under the support order and an additional amount computed in accordance with the child support guidelines established in accordance with section 46b-215a, to be applied toward liquidation of any arrearage accrued under such order, unless contested by the obligor after a notice has been served pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, in which case the court or family support magistrate may determine the amount to be applied toward the liquidation of the arrearage found to have accrued under prior order of the court or family support magistrate. In no event shall such additional amount be applied if there is an existing arrearage order from the court or family support magistrate in a IV-D support case, as defined in subdivision (13) of subsection (b) of section 46b-231. Any investigator or other authorized employee of the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement within the Department of Social Services, or any officer of Support Enforcement Services of the Superior Court, may issue a withholding order entered by the Superior Court or a family support magistrate pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, and shall issue a withholding order pursuant to this subsection when the obligor becomes subject to withholding under subsection (c) of this section. On service of the order of withholding on an existing or any future employer or other payer of income, and until the support order is fully satisfied or modified, the order of withholding is a continuing lien and levy on the obligor's income as it becomes due.

Sec. 7. Subsection (p) of section 52-362 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(p) All withholding orders issued under this section shall be payable to the state disbursement unit established and maintained by the Commissioner of Social Services in accordance with subsection (j) of section 17b-179. The state disbursement unit shall insure distribution of all money collected under this section to the dependent, the state and the support enforcement agencies of other states, as their interests may appear, within two business days. Each dependent who is not receiving child support enforcement services, as defined in subsection (b) of section 46b-231, shall be notified upon the issuance of a withholding order pursuant to this section, that such services are offered free of charge by the State of Connecticut upon application to the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement within the Department of Social Services.

Approved June 3, 2003