Child support is a sensitive family legal matter that can often become highly contentious. One parent may be concerned about receiving enough support to meet their child’s needs while the other may be concerned they will be ordered to pay more than they can afford. Here are five tips when pursuing child support and how you can get help from a seasoned Connecticut child support lawyer.
1. Establish Biological Paternity If Necessary
In the state of Connecticut, to pursue child support from the father of a child, you must first establish biological paternity. This refers to legally proving that the alleged father of a child is or isn’t actually that child’s biological parent. A person can only be ordered to pay child support for a child they are a lawful parent of; a court may not order child support to be paid for a child by a person who is not that child’s biological parent.
This requirement isn’t necessary for parents who were married at the time of the child’s birth and who have gotten divorced or are in the process of dissolving their marriage. Biological paternity in these cases is assumed to belong to the man married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth.
Typically, his name will also be present on the birth certificate, which often negates the requirement for paternity testing. However, unmarried parents who are separating do need to go through the process of establishing biological paternity before pursuing child support payments.
2. Obtain a Court Order for Support
Once paternity is legally established, you should obtain a court order for child support. Under Connecticut law, both parents have a fiscal responsibility to their child and must provide for them financially until the child is 18 or becomes emancipated. The child support age in NY is 21.
The court will review the income and expenses of both parents and how much time the child spends with each parent in order to determine how much child support will be paid and to whom.
3. Keep Accurate Records of Child Support Payments
Make sure to keep accurate records of when child support payments are made and if any payments are missed. You should not wholly rely on the Office of Child Support Services to keep complete and precise records of all payments due and payments made. Although they do track this information, simple errors could result in not having the documentation needed to back up your child support claims.
4. Explore Enforcement Options
If your spouse misses child support payments or otherwise fails to meet their court-ordered financial obligations to their child, you may need to explore your options for enforcement. While you can contact the Office of Child Support Services for assistance, a Connecticut child support lawyer can also help you.
A parent who was ordered to pay child support does not, they may be subject to one or more of the following enforcement actions:
- Wage garnishment. The Office of Child Support Services will contact the paying parent’s employer and have child support directly taken out of their wages.
- Interception of tax returns or stimulus benefits. Back child support may be taken out of a paying parent’s tax return or stimulus check until all arrears are paid.
- Suspension of their driver’s license. If a parent fails to pay child support and the above methods are unavailable, their driver’s license may be suspended until all support owed is paid. In some cases, a parent may face restrictions on their passport, preventing them from leaving the country if they owe child support.
- Being held in contempt of court. Rarely, a non paying parent will be held in contempt of court for not making child support payments as dictated by their court order. Usually, this only occurs when other options aren’t accessible, as it may result in jail time for the non paying parent.
5. Hire an Experienced Connecticut Child Support Lawyer
Finally, one of the most important things you can do when pursuing child support payments is hiring an attorney to represent you. A veteran custody and support lawyer functions as more than just a child support calculator in CT. They serve as your guide through the entire child custody, visitation, and support process. If you are married and are also getting a divorce, your family lawyer can help you manage all of these legal matters.
The attorney you choose to represent you plays a significant role in the overall outcome of your case. You need someone with a proven track record of success. Contact Heidi E. Opinsky for a consultation by calling 203-653-3542.