Testimony of Stephen N. Ment Judiciary Committee Public Hearing March 26, 2009
House Bill 6699, An Act Concerning Child Support Enforcement
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on
behalf of the Judicial Branch on House Bill 6699, An Act Concerning
Child Support Enforcement. The Judicial Branch has concerns with
this proposal because it would not increase or enhance the tools currently
available to collect child support.
As members of the Committee may be aware, in
IV-D child support cases, the Judicial Branchís Support Enforcement Services
(SES) unit is responsible for monitoring child support awards for compliance
with financial, medical insurance, and child care orders, as well as
initiating court-based enforcement actions such as income withholdings and
contempt applications when appropriate.
Under existing law, SES has a wide variety
of enforcement remedies at their disposal that apply to all obligors,
including self-employed. Thus, the bill, while well-intended, would not
result in an increase in child support collected. For example, statutory
authority already exists to issue income withholding orders against an
obligorís payer of income in all IV-D cases, including unemployment
compensation, workers compensation, retirement funds, and lien proceeds of
litigation (including judgments and settlements). Authority also exists to
freeze and seize bank accounts and other assets owned by the obligor and
held by financial institutions. Payment is made to the State Disbursement
Unit, which handles all child support payment processing in the state.
Section 3 of the bill requires the Judicial
Branch and the Department of Social Services (DSS) to study and recommend
ways by which the collection of child support can be enhanced. We would
respectfully submit that this type of study would be time-consuming and draw
personnel way from their core functions at a time of declining resources.
That it is not to say, however, that further discussion and communication
would not be beneficial. We actively work with our child support partners,
including DSS, to develop strategies to increase collections, and we would
be pleased to work with the proponents of this bill to draft legislation
that is more workable.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify.