13. Foster Care‎ > ‎

13.4 Establishment


Chapter Federal Authority
Foster Care Social Security Act
§452(f) Duties of the Secretary
§454(20) State plan for child and spousal support
§456 Support obligations
§466(a)(2) and (19), (c), and (d) Requirement of statutorily prescribed procedures to improve effectiveness of child support enforcement
§467 State guidelines for child support awards
§468 Encouragement of States to adopt simple civil process for voluntary acknowledging paternity and a civil procedure for establishing paternity in contested cases
45 CFR 302.56 Guidelines for setting child support awards
45 CFR 303.4 Establishment of support obligations
45 CFR 303.5 Establishment of paternity
45 CFR 303.7 Provision of services in intergovernmental IV-D cases
45 CFR 303.31 Securing and enforcing medical support obligations

Subject State Authority
Establishment Wyo. Stat. § 14-2-204 Liability for support; right of action; venue; service; measure of recovery; remedies cumulative; execution; continuing jurisdiction; notice
Wyo. Stat. § 14-2-401 et seq. Wyoming Parentage Act
Wyo. Stat. § 20-2-301 et seq. Child Support
Wyo. Stat. § 20-2-401 et seq. Medical Support
Wyo. Stat. § 20-6-106 Powers and duties of department regarding collection of support
Wyoming Child Support Enforcement Rules
Chapter 4 General Services
DFS Family Services Manual
6.2 Child Support for Child in Out-of-Home Care
Policy Number Effective Date
13.4 October 1, 2010

Overview

The Wyoming CSE Program will work with the Department of Family Services (DFS) and the parents to establish a parental contribution for each parent to support the child(ren) in DFS care.  Not only does the child support established by the Wyoming CSE Program help offset DFS’s maintenance costs due to out-of-home placement, but it also shows a parental commitment to support his or her child(ren).

Policy

No Establishment of a Child Support Order

The Wyoming CSE Program will not pursue a support order against a parent when:

  • DFS is not expending money for an out-of-home placement (e.g. relative placement).
  • The parent’s only source of income is Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • The child is in out-of-home placement less than 60 days.

Note:  Guardianship subsidies are not considered out-of-home placement costs.  If a guardian would like to receive child support from the parents of the child, the guardian may apply for child support services as discussed in Chapter 6 Intake.


Intact Family

A child may enter out-of-home placement with an intact family (e.g. the mother, father, and child live together as a family unit and the mother and father are married).  When this occurs, the case worker will open a Foster Care case for both parents as described in 13.2 Foster Care – Intake.

Once the cases are opened, the District CSE Office will: 

  • Establish one order for parental contributions from both parents, or
  • Load the support order on the Foster Care vs. Father POSSE case; 
  • Add the Mother as the co-defendant on the Support Order Maintenance screen; and 
  • Request closure of the other foster care case as described in 12.2 Closure – Special Circumstances.

Multiple Children

If multiple children with the same mother and father are placed in out-of-home placement, the District CSE Office may establish:

  • One flat amount order for all children for each parent; 
  • One per child order for all children for each parent; or 
  • Separate orders for each child for each parent.

Therefore, when more than one child from the same family unit is placed in foster care, the case worker will consult with his or her District CSE Attorney to determine next steps.

Paternity

If a child is in out-of-home placement and paternity is at issue, the District CSE Office will establish paternity as described in 8.2 Establishment – Paternity and the paternity sub-sections:

POSSE Case

If there is an existing Mother vs. Father POSSE case, paternity will be established in the Mother vs. Father POSSE case, and the parental contribution will be redirected to the Foster Care vs. Father POSSE case.

If there is not an existing Mother vs. Father POSSE case, paternity and the parental contribution will be established in the Foster Care vs. Father POSSE case.


Note:  When the child leaves DFS custody and a Mother vs. Father POSSE case does not exist, the parental obligation for the father stops and is not redirected to the mother.  If the mother wants child support, she shall complete a child support application as discussed in Chapter 6 Intake and a support order will be established following the policies in Chapter 8 Establishment.


Paternity Establishment

In Wyoming, paternity may be established in one of the following ways:

1) Unrebutted presumption of paternity (See 8.2.1 Establishment – Paternity - Presumption for details);

2) Valid paternity acknowledgment (See 8.2.2 Establishment – Paternity - Voluntary Acknowledgment for details); or

3) Adjudication (See 8.2.4 Establishment – Paternity - Adjudication for details).

During case assessment, the case worker will determine if paternity is at issue.  See 6.5 Intake - Case Assessment for paternity proof determination steps and required documents.

For details and a table explaining paternity establishment methods along with timeframes for establishment, rescission, challenge, or denial of paternity, see 8.2 – Establishment – Paternity and Table 1: Paternity Establishment & Timeframes in this paternity section.

Finally, in order to establish paternity in a foster care action where the mother no longer has custody of the child, the mother will be a necessary party to the action and served as described in Chapter 8 Establishment.


Note:  Paternity shall be established before child or medical support can be ordered by a Wyoming District Court.

Jurisdiction

If paternity is at issue, see 13.3 Foster Care – Jurisdiction to determine if Wyoming has jurisdiction to establish paternity and a parental obligation.

DFS Requests Genetic Testing 

When a child is removed from a home and placed in out-of-home care by court order or through voluntary placement, DFS may request child support services that include paternity establishment and genetic testing.  DFS will determine if a child support referral is appropriate based upon DFS Protective and Juvenile Services Manual 6.2 Child Support for Child in Out-of-Home Care and discussed in detail in 13.2 Foster Care – Intake.

There may also be instances in which DFS would like genetic testing even though the Wyoming CSE Program has already identified or established a legal father.  DFS will proceed in the following way for each of the below-listed scenarios:

1) Termination of Parental Rights  

    • DFS wants a genetic test to make sure all possible fathers are given notice of a Termination of Parental Rights.
    • Request goes to the Attorney General's Office.  The Attorney General's Office handles Termination of Parental Rights cases, and the Attorney General’s Office will know if the genetic test is necessary for proper notice.

2) Placement of a Child with a Family Member  

    • Request goes to the DFS state office.  It is usually not necessary to have a genetic test for family placement that is a DFS State Office determination.

3) Mother says the Legal Father is not the Real Father

    • Advise the DFS customer that he/she needs private legal counsel.  A genetic test does not disestablish legal paternity.  This is a private legal issue.
    • The Wyoming CSE Program cannot disestablish legal paternity.

Consult the Appendix 13.C – Directive for Genetic Testing Requests for procedures for each scenario.

Guidelines

In order to determine the presumptive child support contribution in foster care, the District CSE Office will require that each non-custodial parent complete the Wyoming Supreme Court financial affidavit.  

If the non-custodial parent does not properly fill-out the financial affidavit, the District CSE Office will utilize locate sources discussed in Chapter 7 Locate to find income or asset information for the parties.  

The District CSE Office will use income information and Wyoming child support guidelines to calculate the presumptive parental contribution for each parent related to the foster care case.  

Imputed Income

When a parent’s actual income is not available, the case worker will need to impute or assign income to a parent in order to calculate child support.  There are several instances where the case worker may have to impute income to a party in order to calculate the presumptive parental contribution.

Voluntarily Under-Employed.  When a parent is voluntarily under-employed (e.g. the parent is purposefully making less income than the parent could make), the income is based upon the actual income, potential income or minimum wage whichever is higher.  See the District CSE Office Attorney for specific examples of under-employed circumstances as defined by the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Minimum Wage.  If one or both of the parties fails to complete the Wyoming Supreme Court financial affidavit and the case worker cannot find wage information through other sources or in the case of a parent that does not work outside of the home, the District CSE Office will impute minimum wage to the parent.  The income will be defined by Wyoming statutes and calculated using full-time (e.g. 40 hours per week) wages.  


Note:  All District CSE Offices will use the imputed wage calculation provided by the IV-D Director.  This calculation is updated and reviewed by the IV-D Director and District CSE Office Managers when minimum wage increases or the Wyoming guidelines are changed.

Minimum Child Support Award

According to Wyoming statute, the minimum child support award will not be less than $50.00 per month for each family unit.

Social Security or Veteran’s Benefits

If a custodial parent (hereinafter “Mother” for this example) is receiving social security or veteran’s benefits (hereinafter “benefits”) for the child(ren) due to the steps taken by the non-custodial parent (hereinafter “Father” for this example) to receive the benefits, the total benefit paid to the Father and the child(ren) through the Mother may be redirected to the DFS through the actions of the local DFS office and will be counted as income to the Father for purposes of calculating child support.  However, the total benefit received by the Mother for the child will be deducted from the Father’s share of presumptive support.  If the subtracted amount results in a negative child support obligation, the child support amount will be zero.  

Adoption Subsidies

Under federal IV-E rules, adoption subsidies are to continue to the adoptive parents unless the adoptive parents are no longer legally responsible for the care of the child or if the child is no longer receiving any support from the adoptive parents.  In the normal DFS foster care case, neither of these conditions applies to a child placed in DFS custody.  The parents remain legally responsible for a child in DFS custody, and they still contribute support for the child.  Therefore, adoptive parents will continue to receive the adoption subsidy.

When calculating income for the child support order, the Wyoming CSE Program will not include the adoption subsidy as income.

Deviations

A District Court may deviate from the presumptive child support amount.  If the District Court deviates from the presumptive support amount, the court order will contain the presumptive child support amount, the actual parental contribution, and the specific reason for the deviation.

The deviation factors the District Court may consider are:

  • The age of the child;
  • The cost of day care;
  • Any special educational or health needs of the child;
  • The responsibility of other children for either parent whether court-ordered or not;
  • The value of services contributed by either parent;
  • Under certain circumstances, reasonable confinement or birthing expenses;
  • The cost of transportation to and from visitation;
  • The cost of health insurance through an employer;
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the child;
  • Any other necessary expenses;
  • Whether either parent is underemployed or voluntarily unemployed; and/or
  • Any other factor deemed relevant by the District Court.

Child Support Orders

In Wyoming, the District CSE Office will file a Petition to Establish Temporary Support in foster care cases unless the parental contribution is being addressed in conjunction with a paternity action.  Wyoming law requires a judicial procedure to establish a parental contribution for children in out-of-home placement.  When a child goes into out-of-home placement and is in the custody of the State of Wyoming, each parent becomes a “non-custodial” parent and an order for a parental contribution is established for each, or if an order already exists, the child and medical support order is redirected to the state as discussed below.  Once the non-custodial parent is served with the Petition to Establish Temporary Support, a Wyoming Supreme Court financial affidavit, and a hearing notice, the action may proceed in one of three ways: default, stipulation, or contested case.

Default 

If the non-custodial parent is served and does not respond to the Petition to Establish Temporary Support within the timeframes provided by the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure (WRCP), the District CSE Office may default the non-custodial parent by following the WRCP for default judgments and the requirements of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  

The SCRA provides protections for military personnel involved in civil actions.  Specifically, before a default judgment can be entered the following will occur.

  • The District CSE Office will file an affidavit indicating whether the non-custodial parent is in the military; 
  • If it appears the non-custodial parent is in the military, the District Court Judge will appoint an attorney to represent the non-custodial parent; or
  • If the District Court Judge cannot determine the military status of the non-custodial parent, the District Court Judge may require a bond in an amount approved by the District Court Judge.

For details regarding default judgments and the SCRA, please see Appendix 15.B – Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

In addition to the presumptive child support amount, the default order will also address medical support as discussed in 8.4 Establishment - Medical Support along with a retroactive judgment and costs and fees of the action.

Stipulation

Once the District CSE Office receives enough information to calculate presumptive child support as described above, the District CSE Office may contact the non-custodial parent with the presumed child support amount to see if he or she would like to stipulate to the parental contribution amount along with any judgments as discussed below.  If so, the District CSE Office will draft a stipulation for the non-custodial parent’s signature and file the stipulation along with an order for the District Court Judge to sign.

Contested Cases

If the non-custodial parent cannot agree on the parental contribution or wishes to request a deviation from the District Court Judge, the District CSE Office will set the case for hearing.  The District Court Judge will hear testimony and order a parental contribution based upon his or her findings.  In addition to the parental contribution, the District Court Judge will also address medical support as discussed below and greater detail in 8.4 Establishment – Medical Support along with retroactive support and costs and fees of the action.

Parental Contribution Start Date

If the child goes into placement before the 15th of the month, the District CSE Office will use the 1st of that month as the placement date and start date of the order.  If the child goes into placement on or after the 15th of the month, the District CSE Office will use the 1st of the next month as the placement date and the begin date of the order.  

Medical Support

The District CSE Office will petition the District Court for medical support for each child involved in a child support case.  The District Court will determine if health insurance is both reasonable and accessible as defined by Wyoming Statutes before ordering the custodial or non-custodial parent to provide health insurance.

A health insurance premium is considered reasonable if the cost to provide health care coverage or to provide cash medical support for children is no more than 5% of the providing party’s gross income, and it is considered accessible if it is available and provides coverage for the child residing within the geographic area covered by the insurance plan.


Note:  When a child is in state care, the child is automatically enrolled in Medicaid and it is not a substitute for the parent’s obligation to provide medical support for the child.

Once the District Court orders health care coverage, the case worker will update POSSE to ensure the District CSE Office begins enforcing the medical support order. 

Retroactive Support

When a child is in out-of-home placement and the State of Wyoming is expending money to support the child, the non-custodial parent has an obligation to repay the State of Wyoming.  Retroactive child support may be calculated back to the date of placement for this particular foster care episode and is based upon the child support guidelines and the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay.  The District CSE Office will petition the court for a judgment for retroactive support, and the District Court may award a judgment to the State of Wyoming based upon the evidence provided.


Note:  The District CSE Office will not request a judgment for previous foster care placements.

Final Order Requirements

A final order establishing a parental contribution will contain the following:

  • Information about the non-custodial parent, including,
    • Name
    • Address
    • Date and place of birth
    • Employer name and address;
  • Name, address, date of birth, and place of birth for all child(ren);
  • Right of DFS to petition to enforce an order pursuant to statute;
  • Requirement to notify the Clerk of District Court of a change of the non-custodial parent’s address or employer; and
  • Requirement that all parental contribution payments be paid through the Clerk of District Court or Wyoming State Disbursement Unit (SDU).

When the final order is filed, it should be accompanied by a confidential statement with the social security number (SSN) of the non-custodial parent and child, and an immediate income withholding order (See 9.9 Enforcement – Wage Withholding).


Note:  Confidential statements are filed with the Clerk of District Court and may only be inspected by the parties and their attorneys, the Wyoming IV-D Child Support program, and other persons if permitted by court order.

Redirect Support

When a child is in out-of-home placement, a child support order exists, and the District CSE Office has jurisdiction as described in 13.3 Foster Care – Jurisdiction, the District CSE Office Attorney will sign and file an Affidavit of Redirection asking the District Clerk of Court to redirect any payments made under the existing order to DFS.

Party Represented by an Attorney

If an attorney represents a case party, the District CSE Office will follow certain guidelines regarding release of information and communication with the party or attorney.  See 3.6 Confidentiality and Safeguarding Information – Release of Information and Appendix 13.B – Communication with Persons Represented by Counsel.

Cross Reference

DFS Protective and Juvenile Services Manual 6.2 Child Support for Child in Out-of-Home Care



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