PAYMENT METHODS

CS 707P Special Circumstances: Individuals Participating in Mental Health or Substance Abuse Treatment programs

02/12/01 Revised 03/31/15 Training Completed 04/14/15

R527-258

 

 

Introduction

 

Mental illness and/or substance abuse can be a barrier to a non-custodial parent’s (NCP) ability to maintain regular employment and provide support for his or her children.  It is usually in the best interests of the child(ren) for the NCP to receive the necessary treatment recommended by health care professionals.  The Office of Recovery Services/Child Support Services (ORS/CSS) will continue to attempt to collect the NCP’s current support obligation while s/he is in a treatment program.  However, if the NCP is participating in a licensed mental health and/or substance abuse treatment program, either on an in-patient or out-patient basis, CSS will utilize special procedures in handling the collection of past-due support that may be owed on the NCP’s case(s).

 

NOTE:  The procedures in this policy apply to both IV-A and Non-IV-A cases.  The policy does not apply to group or family counseling, which may be administered through a private provider, mental health facility, or a Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) Program. 

 

 

Statutory Authority

 

Utah Administrative Rule R527-258 states:

 

R527-258-4.  Enforcement of Child Support for Obligors in Treatment Programs:

“1. If the obligor is in an in-patient, licensed mental health or substance abuse treatment program for thirty days or more, no collection or enforcement action will be taken to collect the past-due support debt for the duration of the in-patient treatment.

2. If the obligor is in an in-patient, licensed mental health or substance abuse treatment program and notifies ORS/CSS or the office is made aware of the release within 30 days of the release date, the office will only collect current support and one dollar toward the past-due support debt for six months after the in-patient program release date.

3. If the obligor is involved in an out-patient treatment program and notifies ORS/CSS or the office is made aware of the treatment within 30 days of the treatment beginning, the office will only collect current support and one dollar toward the past-due support debt for six months after:

a. the obligor's initial contact with the office, or

b. the office determines that the individual is involved in an out-patient treatment program.

4. ORS/CSS will enforce a support order that requires the obligor to provide medical insurance coverage for the children, if appropriate.”

 

R527-258-5. Enforcing Child Support When the Obligor Is in a Treatment Program.

“1. The federal title IV-A past-due support debt which accrued while the obligor was in an in-patient treatment program may be forgiven one time, if the full monthly current support payment and the full monthly assessed payment toward the past-due support debt have been made for twelve consecutive months. The twelve consecutive month period begins when the obligor has been released from an in-patient treatment program and s/he has contacted the office to make payment arrangements within the allotted 30 days.

2. The office will use the federal income withholding notice and procedures to enforce and collect the current support and an arrears payment, when appropriate. The office will use the federal National Medical Support Notice and procedures to enforce insurance coverage for the children, if appropriate.

a. If the obligor does not make the full payment in each of the first six months, additional collection or enforcement action may be taken.

b. If the obligor makes the full required payment each month for twelve consecutive months, the remaining IV-A support debt that accrued during the most recent treatment period shall be forgiven. IV-A debt forgiveness due to participation in an in-patient or out-patient treatment program will only occur one time per obligor.

3. If the obligor owes IV-A arrears only, s/he must make twelve consecutive payments to the office based on an assessed amount determined by ORS/CSS.

4. The obligor's arrearage payment shall be reassessed by the office if his/her financial situation changes during the twelve-month period.”

 

NCP in an In-Patient Treatment Program

 

If you learn about an NCP who is participating in an in-patient treatment program for mental illness and/or substance abuse for 30 days or more, and the NCP owes past-due support, do not collect on the past-due support during the time s/he is undergoing in-patient treatment.

 

Request that the NCP authorize a letter to ORS/CSS from the facility or a counselor to verify participation in the treatment program and the terms of the confinement.  If a letter is provided, handle it as documented medical information. 

 

If you are notified that the NCP has been released from the in-patient treatment program within 30 days of the release date, only collect current support plus $1.00 toward the past-due support for six months after the release date.  Collection should be by income withholding, if available.  Personally give the NCP a copy of the Payment Schedule Notice to Obligor letter or mail it to him/her by first-class mail.   Do not take any additional enforcement or collection action other than medical support enforcement for the first six months after an NCP has been released from an in-patient treatment program provided the current support plus $1.00 arrears payments are made each month. 

 

Monitor the case to determine if the NCP makes all six months current support and $1.00 arrears payments.  If all of the required payments were made each month, assess an arrears payment using the procedures found in subsection Procedures – Assessing Arrears Payment.  Continue to monitor the case for the current support and the new assessed arrears payment for an additional six months.  At the end of the 12 month time period, review the case and determine if all of the required payments were received for 12 consecutive months and then refer to subsection Discharge of IV-A Arrears below.

 

NOTE:  If the NCP does not owe current support (arrears-only case), s/he must successfully pay twelve months of an assessed arrears payment to be eligible for the forgiveness program. 

 

If the NCP does not make any payment during a month or the current support and arrears payments were not made for 12 consecutive months, you may proceed with full enforcement on the case as appropriate, provided the NCP is no longer participating in a treatment program. 

 

 

NCP in an Out-Patient Treatment Program

 

If the NCP is undergoing treatment on an out-patient basis for mental illness or substance abuse and s/he contacts you within 30 days of entering into the program or you determine that the NCP is in an out-patient program, only collect current support and $1.00 toward the past-due support for six months via income withholding, if available, from the date the NCP first entered into the out-patient treatment program.  Personally give the NCP a copy of the Payment Schedule Notice to Obligor letter or mail it to him/her by first-class mail.  Do not take any additional enforcement or collection action other than medical support enforcement for six months from the date the NCP entered the out-patient treatment program provided the current support plus $1.00 arrears payments are made each month.

 

Monitor the case to determine if the current support and $1.00 arrears payments were made.  If all of the required payments were made each month, assess an arrears payment using the procedures found in subsection Procedures – Assessing Arrears Payment below.  Continue to monitor the case for the current support and the new assessed arrears payment for an additional six months.  At the end of the 12 months, review the case and determine if all of the required payments were received for 12 consecutive months, then refer to subsection Discharge of IV-A Arrears below.

 

NOTE:  If the NCP does not owe current support (arrears-only case), s/he must successfully pay twelve months of an assessed arrears payment to be eligible for the forgiveness program. 

 

If the NCP does not make any payment during a month or the current support and arrears payments were not made for 12 consecutive months, you may proceed with full enforcement on the case as appropriate, provided the NCP is no longer participating in a treatment program.

 

 

Procedures – Assessing Arrears Payment

 

After the six month time period and prior to commencing any action to collect an additional amount on the arrears, consider the NCP’s circumstances and consult with your team manager and, if appropriate, the NCP’s case manager or treatment worker.  The time period for non-enforcement may be extended when warranted.  For example, if the NCP has no income or assets, you may extend the non-enforcement period for up to an additional six months, at which time you will need to again review the NCP’s circumstances.  Consult with your management chain to obtain the approval to extend the time period.  Document the rationale in the case narratives and set a follow up date to review the case again at the appropriate future date.

 

NOTE:  If the NCP has assets, you may consider the value of the assets in assessing payments.

 

Arrears payments cannot be pre-paid.  The NCP must make consecutive monthly payments with the new assessed arrears payment to continue to be eligible for the forgiveness program.   If the NCP makes each assessed arrears payment for the second six month time period, do not take any additional collection or enforcement action.  If any portion of the assessed payment is missed or paid late due to the fault of the NCP (not the employer), do not discharge the IV-A arrears debt.  You may “settle” the debt with the NCP at a discounted lump sum rate, as in other cases that will pay the debt off in full.

 

Continue to collect current support and the NCP’s assessed arrears payment using all appropriate enforcement and collection remedies. 

 

 

Discharge of IV-A Arrears

 

You may forgive the NCP’s IV-A arrears which accrued while the NCP was participating in an in-patient or out-patient treatment program one time if the NCP pays current support (if applicable) and the assessed arrears payment for twelve consecutive months.  R527-258-5(2)(b) states:

If the obligor makes the full required payment each month for twelve consecutive months, the remaining IV-A support debt that accrued during the most recent treatment period shall be forgiven. IV-A debt forgiveness due to participation in an in-patient or out-patient treatment program will only occur one time per obligor.”

 

NOTE:  The discharge of arrears policy only applies to IV-A arrears.  If a portion of the arrears, which accrued while in an in-patient or out-patient treatment program, was non-IV-A, the custodial parent (CP) must authorize a discharge of arrears; otherwise, the arrears will still be owed.