20.4 Good Cause

Chapter

Federal Authority

Good Cause

Social Security Act

§402(a)(7) Eligible States; State Plan

§408(a)(7)(C)(iii) Prohibitions; Requirements

Federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

42 CFR 436.610

45 CFR 260.50 et. seq.

Subject

State Authority

Good Cause

Wyo. Stat. §.42-2-102 et. seq. In General

Wyo. Stat. § 42-2-202 Employment and Training Program

Wyo. Stat. § 42-4-106 Application for Assistance; Determination of Eligibility; Assignment of Benefits; Resources and Income Allowances Defined for Institutionalized Spouse

Wyoming Personal Opportunities with Employment Responsibilities Administrative Rule - Chapter 1

Policy Number

Effective Date

20.4

May 1, 2022

OVERVIEW

The safety of the Wyoming Child Support Program’s (CSP) customers and their children is paramount. Wyoming CSP recognizes that family violence is prevalent in society and in the Wyoming IV-D child support caseload, and that child support actions can trigger threats and/or violence.


If a customer expresses any concerns due to family violence, the case worker shall provide information regarding domestic violence services that are locally available, whether or not the customer ultimately claims good cause.


This policy recognizes that research indicates that false good cause claims are rare. These procedures are intended to decide good cause claims as rapidly as possible while still protecting against fraudulent claims, so that Personal Opportunities with Employment Responsibilities

(POWER) applicants and their children receive needed economic assistance without delay.



NOTE: As of May 1, 2022 the WCSP will make good cause determinations for TANF recipients. Customers required to cooperate with child support due to receipt of Medicaid benefits, must still apply to the Department of Health for good cause to not cooperate with child support. Case workers will advise those required to cooperate with child support due to Medicaid to contact Wyoming Department of Health to apply for good cause.

Policy

Good Cause Generally/Intake

Public assistance customers have the right to refuse cooperation with the CSP if pursuing child support services against a particular non-custodial parent is against the best interests of the child, usually because pursuing support services may put them or their children at risk of physical or emotional harm. The circumstances under which cooperation may be against the best interests of the child include:


  • A child conceived as a result of sexual assault or sexual abuse of a minor;

  • Legal proceedings for child’s adoption are pending before a court;

  • A customer being assisted by a public or licensed private social service agency to decide whether to keep the child or relinquish the child for adoption; or

  • The child or caretaker may be physically or emotionally harmed by cooperating with establishing parentage/establishing a child support obligation and/or collecting support.


The CSP strives to give customers the best information possible to allow customers to make an informed choice on whether or not to request Good Cause.


The CSP case worker shall educate the customer on generally how the child support system works, and measures that can be taken to help the customer safely pursue child support.


The CSP case worker should inform the customer of the benefits of pursuing child support services:


  • Establishing paternity and support can help lessen the child’s feelings of abandonment or desertion

  • Establishing paternity can entitle the child to receive federal benefits should the father die or become disabled

  • Support payments can help families become and remain self sufficient after POWER payments end

  • If danger arises, Good Cause can be requested at any time in the future


Review/Notification of Good Cause Claims (Process/Standard)

The child support case worker is primarily responsible for screening if Good Cause exists and documenting the application or existing file. Applications shall be reviewed by the CSP District Manager and forwarded to the CSP State Contact for determination and notification. The CSP case worker shall open the case as “non IV-D,” and shall take no action to establish parentage or collect current support or arrears when a Good Cause claim is pending, found to be valid, or being appealed. If Good Cause is granted for an existing case it shall be closed. See Chapter 12.1, Introduction to Closure for details.


At every intake, the CSP Intake case worker shall complete the Domestic Violence Individualized Case Management Tool, synopsizing any verbal statements by the customer regarding good cause concerns. If, after hearing the protections that can be afforded to obtain child support services safely, the customer still indicates a belief that child support services cannot be undertaken safely (or articulates other valid Good Cause reasons) and requests Good Cause, the case worker shall ask the customer to sign the Affidavit In Support Of Good Cause Request.


If the reasons given by the customer that cooperation would be against the interests of the child(ren) appear valid on their face, the Affidavit In Support Of Good Cause Request, Domestic Violence Individualized Case Management Tool and recommendation shall be forwarded by the CSP District Manager to the CSP state contact and CSP Program Manager. The state contact shall review the material provided and may request necessary additional information from the CSP District Manager if deemed necessary.


The CSP state contact shall approve or deny the Good Cause claim within 5 business days unless additional documentation is required. If additional documentation is needed, CSP shall have 20 days from the date the good cause claim is made to make the determination. The state contact shall determine the length of time the Good Cause claim will be in effect. The state contact shall notify the POWER Program Manager, the POWER Program Manager’s designee, CSP Program Manager, and the CSP District manager of the determination. Notice regarding the Good Cause determination shall be sent by IV-A through EPICS to the customer. Good Cause denials are covered later in this section.


If the customer’s POWER case closes and the customer reapplies for benefits later, the customer must reapply for Good Cause. Documentation from the previous Good Cause claim may be used to redetermine the Good Cause Exemption.


Duration of Good Cause Status


If granted, Good Cause shall be valid for an appropriate amount of time based on the circumstances of the case or until the customer requests that it be rescinded by completing a Good Cause Withdrawal Statement. If a rescission is received it shall be forwarded by the District Manager to the CSP state contact and CSP Program Manager. The state contact shall notify the POWER Program Manager and POWER Program Manager’s designee. The customer shall be notified by IV-A when Good Cause has been withdrawn.


Approved Good Cause claims shall be reviewed by the CSP state contact 30 days prior to the end of the period of time the Good Cause claim has been approved for. The CSP state contact shall determine if the previous safety risks have been resolved. Good cause status shall continue until the customer requests that it be rescinded, or until the child support agency successfully contacts the protected party, explains the enforcement actions planned by the agency and receives assent from the protected party that the proposed enforcement actions are not likely to increase risk of physical or emotional harm to the customer or the child(ren). The child support agency should explain that the protected party has the option to request termination of enforcement actions at any time.


If at the end of the Good Cause Exemption Period, the child support agency cannot successfully contact the customer to determine if the previous safety risks have been resolved, the CSP State Contact shall notify the POWER Program Manager and his/her designee and the recipient shall be required to complete a new POWER application.


Acceptable Evidence in Determining Good Cause

Wyoming CSP does not require a customer to provide official documents such as sworn statements from witnesses, court orders or police records to support a claim of Good Cause. There are many reasons why a victim of family violence would not be in possession of these. For example, if s/he has fled and left these papers behind, or if seeking copies of these documents would alert a perpetrator to her/his whereabouts. In addition, many victims, for a variety of good reasons, have never told, let alone sought help from, friends or family, or systems like police, courts or medical facilities.


Evidence Required:

1) Child conceived as a result of sexual assault or sexual abuse of a minor.

  • A medical or law enforcement record that indicates the child was likely conceived as a result of sexual assault or sexual abuse

  • If the customer states that no such documents exist, an oral statement from the customer may be accepted. The case worker shall fill out the Domestic Violence Individualized Case Management Tool, and have the customer execute the Affidavit In Support of Good Cause Request. Many victims of sexual abuse, for a variety of good reasons, have never sought help from systems like police, courts or medical facilities.


2) Legal proceedings for child’s adoption are pending before a court.

  • If proceedings are pending before a court, there should be court documents. If the customer does not have them, the child support case worker or attorney should be able to obtain the documents or confirm there are proceedings with a minimum of effort. This may be confirmed by internal DFS documents, court filings, or a phone call/ email to DFS child protection or attorney representing the customer. Customers shall not be required to track down legal documents and return them to CSP.


3) Customer being assisted by a public or licensed private social service agency to decide whether to keep the child or relinquish the child for adoption.

  • If the customer does not have a document showing assistance, the case worker or attorney shall attempt to confirm or refute the claim immediately by a phone call to a DFS social worker, and/or the social service agency. An email from the social services worker is acceptable. Customers shall not be required to track down legal documents and return them to CSP.


4) The child or caretaker may be physically or emotionally harmed by cooperating with establishing parentage/establishing a child support obligation and/or collecting support.

  • The case worker shall consider any and all available evidence provided by the customer, which may include but is not limited to the following: Medical records, law enforcement records, or court records indicating the NCP might inflict physical or emotional harm on the child or the customer if child support services are provided.

  • Evidence is not barred from consideration for any reason. The fact that physical or sexual violence or threats allegedly happened long ago does not preclude their consideration.

  • Customer’s Statement: Good Cause may be granted based on the customer’s statements alone. The case worker shall synopsize the customer’s statements recorded during the assessment on the Domestic Violence Individualized Case Management Tool, and have the customer fill out the Affidavit In Support Of Good Cause Request.

  • The CSP shall assist the customer in obtaining official documents if such are deemed to be necessary.


Documentation:

1) For all situations involving family violence, a decision on the validity of the claim is made using the Domestic Violence Individualized Case Management Tool which shall be maintained in the child support case file.


2) Copies and/or synopses of any supporting evidence relating to Good Cause shall be maintained in the child support case office file.


3) If Good Cause is granted, a note shall be placed on the top line of the “Special Circumstances” box on Case Maintenance in POSSE. The note shall refer to any Case Activity Logs discussing Good Cause determination, and shall include the date and initials of the note’s author. When entering Case Activity Logs, the Log Type “Good Cause” shall be used.


Right to Appeal Denial of Good Cause:

If a Good Cause claim is denied, the customer has the opportunity to appeal that decision. If an appeal is requested, the CSP state contact shall notify the POWER Program Manager and his/her designee. POWER shall take the necessary action. If an Administrative Hearing is requested, the CSP contact may be required to provide all documents of verification supporting the adverse action or attend the hearing.


Withdrawal of Good Cause

In rare circumstances, a customer may decide that Good Cause is no longer necessary and want to proceed in opening a child support case. If so, the customer shall complete a new application and acknowledge that he or she understands that cooperation is required. The CSP Good Cause contact shall be notified of this by the field office. The State Good Cause contact shall immediately notify the POWER Program Manager and his/her designee.


Cross Reference

Chapter 12.1, Introduction to Closure

20.A - Domestic Violence Individualized Case Management Tool

20.B - Affidavit In Support of Good Cause Request

20.C - Good Cause Withdrawal Statement



Version Number

1

Last Revised Date

May 1, 2022