PA 17-57—sHB 7131

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT EXPEDITING CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATION ORDERS FOR INCARCERATED OR INSTITUTIONALIZED OBLIGORS

SUMMARY: By law, “IV-D child support cases” are cases in which the Department of Social Services' (DSS) Bureau of Child Support Enforcement provides child support enforcement services for children who are Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) or Medicaid beneficiaries or in foster care.

This act streamlines the child support modification process when an obligor (i.e., person owing child support) in such a case is institutionalized or incarcerated for more than 90 consecutive days. Under the act, the obligor's existing support order (i.e., a court or agency order requiring the obligor to pay child support) is modified to zero while he or she is institutionalized or incarcerated and reinstated to the prior amount 90 days after his or her release. Under prior law, a modification or reinstatement required a judicial hearing.

The act specifies steps that a DSS support enforcement officer must follow for the modification and reinstatement to take effect. This includes (1) filing certain affidavits with the Family Support Magistrate Division (FSMD) and (2) providing notice to the child's custodian and the obligor. The act also creates a process for the court or family support magistrate to hear and rule on any modification or reinstatement objections.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

CHILD SUPPORT ORDER MODIFICATION

For a child support modification under the act to take effect, a support enforcement officer must provide notice to the child's custodian and file an affidavit with FSMD.

Notice

The officer must serve the modification notice to the custodian or send it by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice must clearly and simply state that the:

1. support order will be modified unless the custodian, within 15 days after receiving the notice, objects on the grounds that the obligor (a) has sufficient income or assets to comply with the existing order or (b) is incarcerated or institutionalized for an offense against the custodian or child and

2. custodian may object by delivering a signed objection form or other written notice or motion to the officer within 15 days after receiving the notice.

Affidavit

After providing such notice, the officer must file an affidavit with FSMD stating the dates the obligor's imprisonment or institutionalization started and is expected to end. The affidavit must also state that:

1. the officer's diligent search failed to identify any income or assets that could satisfy the support order during that time,

2. the offense for which the obligor is incarcerated or institutionalized was not against the child who is the subject of the support order or the child's custodian, and

3. notice of the modification was provided to the child's custodian and the officer did not receive an objection form.

CHILD SUPPORT ORDER REINSTATEMENT

Under the act, the court must reinstate a modified support order to the original amount 90 days after the obligor is released, provided the support officer files an affidavit with FSMD stating (1) the date the institutionalization or incarceration ended and (2) that notice was provided to the obligor and the officer did not receive an objection form.

Before filing an affidavit to reinstate a support order, an officer must (1) serve notice to the obligor or send it to him or her by certified mail, return receipt requested or (2) send notice by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the Connecticut correctional facility in which the obligor is incarcerated. The notice must clearly and simply state that the:

1. support order will be reinstated to the prior amount 90 days after release unless the obligor objects before then on the grounds that he or she has insufficient income or assets to comply with the order and

2. obligor may object to the reinstatement by delivering a signed objection form or other written motion to the officer before the 90-day deadline.

OBJECTIONS

If the officer receives an objection or motion from the (1) custodian about a support order modification or (2) obligor about a support order reinstatement, the officer must promptly arrange with the FSMD clerk for a hearing, send a file-stamped copy of the objection or motion to DSS, and notify all parties of the hearing date. The court or family support magistrate must promptly hear the objection and determine whether to modify or reinstate the support order in accordance with the child support guidelines.

Any objection filed under the act constitutes a proper motion to modify a child support order.