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Shelton Divorce Law Blog

Failure to pay child support could lead to jail

The child support enforcement system has many tools at its disposal to motivate parents to pay child support. In Connecticut, these tools include wage garnishments, tax refund intercepts and reports to credit bureaus. One option receiving more attention is the ability of a judge to put a parent in jail for failure to pay child support.

Supporters of jail as an incentive to pay child support generally believe that people should not have children that they cannot afford. The threat of jail is seen as motivation for people who can afford to pay child support but choose not to do so. In some states, significant numbers of inmates are in jail due to failure to pay child support.

The impact of mediation on divorce

Connecticut residents who are contemplating divorce may be interested in incorporating mediation into the divorce process. While divorce may be complex, mediation might help spouses reconcile differences that might be a source of discord.

Listening to one another is a major benefit of divorce mediation. Getting to the point where that occurs may be difficult. Spouses may have a series of issues they feel strongly about and differing opinions. Talking about those issues without rancor is a good first step toward a solution. However, discussion might be interrupted by emotion and dismissal of each party's input.

Records of alimony should be retained for tax purposes

For Connecticut couples who have gone through a divorce, keeping records of alimony payments can help them if they are subsequently audited by the IRS or if one of the parties goes to court regarding an alleged lack of payment. They want to keep records for at least three years and possibly for even longer if they anticipate having to go back to court, which can happen if there is an attempt to modify alimony payment amounts or durations.

Both the payers as well as the recipients of spousal support should keep copies of checks and receipts for court and tax purposes. For payers, carbon copies of checks can help them to show the amount of payments, check numbers and recipients. They also want to keep track of the addresses to which they send the checks. Recipients should make and retain copies of checks and detailed records of the total amount received each year. Having records of payments can be important because the IRS treats most forms of alimony as both deductible by the payer and as income to the recipient.

Requesting an emergency ex parte order for custody in Connecticut

Determining the custody of a child is a delicate matter that involves a lot of consideration between the divorcing parents. The court also must consider several factors regarding what is best for the child before issuing a final order. Sometimes, however, the child may be immediately at risk of psychological or physical harm. It is in such situations that one of the parents could request an emergency ex parte order.

With an emergency ex parte order, the petitioning parent is granted temporary visitation or child custody rights. It may also order the respondent parent not to move the child out of Connecticut, do anything else in the child's best interests, interfere with the petitioning parent's rights under the order or interfere with the child's education.

Child custody mediation for Connecticut parents

Child custody mediation has become a popular alternative method of establishing a custody and visitation agreement in Connecticut. This type of mediation takes into account the needs and desires of both parents and children and allows for a more harmonious end to the marriage without visiting undue trauma or stress upon the children or the parents. However, successful child custody mediation requires certain key attitudes and behaviors on the part of both parents.

Entering mediation with a willingness to be honest and receptive to the observations and desires of the other parent and the children, as well as the advice and commentary of the mediator, is critical to the success of mediation. In mediation, compromise and the ability to make, consider, adapt and accept reasonable proposals from all sides is a healthy way to work out potential conflict points such as parental vacations and holidays.

Collecting child support from Social Security benefits

Custodial parents in Connecticut who are owed back child support by their former spouses who are no longer working but who are receiving Social Security benefits may wonder if they have any recourse. Although Supplemental Security Income benefits may not be garnished, other types of Social Security benefits are reachable to help take care of the delinquencies.

The reason that SSI benefits can not be garnished is that they are viewed as a form of welfare. However, other Social Security benefits are considered to be income that has been earned by the recipient who had paid into the program while employed, and thus they can be garnished under some circumstances. These include retirement and disability benefits.

Modifying alimony orders in Connecticut

There are certain situations that may arise after an alimony order has been in place for some time that necessitate a modification. In the event that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the original order, a Connecticut family court may suspend, reduce, modify or terminate alimony as it sees fit.

Either party may file a motion to modify alimony with the court. Parties may stipulate to a proposed modification or litigate the issue. Any modification ordered by the court will not be retroactively applied, meaning the paying parent will still be responsible for any alimony payment amounts that are owed at the time of the modified order.

Statistics on child support not being paid

Child support is a necessary monetary contribution by a non-custodial parent to ensure their child's well-being. Just because support has been ordered or agreed upon does not guarantee that payments will be made on time or at all, however. According to the U.S. Census Bureau for 2011, 32 percent of custodial fathers and 25.1 percent of custodial mothers did not receive child support payments from the other parent. Information from the census was collected from individuals across a span of races, marital statuses, educational backgrounds and poverty levels.

At 18.3 percent, custodial fathers make up a small percentage of parents who retain custody of their children and necessitate child support payments from the other parent. On average, custodial fathers not receiving support payments have an annual income that is approximately $9,749 more than those custodial fathers who are receiving support from the child's other parent. On the contrary, custodial mothers who are not receiving child support have an average household income that is approximately $4,132 less than those custodial mothers who are receiving child support payments.

The benefits of divorce mediation

More Connecticut couples whose marriages are ending are turning to mediation to help them make decisions about many common divorce issues. Even those with contentious child custody or property division issues may benefit from choosing mediation instead of litigation.

Unlike in divorce court, where a judge oversees cases, mediation is facilitated by a mediator. They are often psychologists, social workers or other professionals whose priorities lie with helping divorcing couples come to fair solutions. As opposed to arbitrators, mediators do not make any decisions for the parties, which is often more appealing to divorcing couples who would rather decide what child custody and property division arrangements work best for them. Mediation often results in agreements that are tailored to divorcing couples' needs as well as those of their children.

Connecticut alimony payers have family law options

Although alimony serves a necessary function for taking care of former spouses, disagreements over terms and settlements can render it less effective. Some disputes even delay other proceedings when they are not managed correctly, and those who fail to satisfy court alimony terms may be subjected to punitive measures, such as wage garnishment. At the Law Offices of James A Cuddy, LLC., we work hard to change the way Connecticut spouses feel about their alimony arrangements by helping them resolve disputes and identify workable agreement solutions.

Your current alimony arrangement might not take everything into account. Formal alimony orders are usually enacted to reflect each party's living requirements, preexisting asset divisions, employment history and the length of a marriage, but such considerations may not be sufficient for each payer. Factors like advancing age, illness, diminished earning capacity and unexpected changes in financial status can make it difficult for people to pay alimony on time and in full. We are prepared to help you voice such concerns in courts, mediation sessions and other formal settings.

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525 Bridgeport Avenue, Suite 201, Shelton, CT 06484 · Phone - 203-583-8256 · Toll Free - 866-785-4409 · Fax - 203-513-8673.