November 16, 2017

Child Support Enhancement

FEBRUARY 1987

BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association supports efforts to ensure adequate and fair child support awards and to improve the enforcement of child support orders.

The Association recommends the following:

(a) Development of effective and efficient procedures for enforcement of child and spousal supports orders, including the use of income withholding from a wide range of sources of income and other procedures required by the Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984 and including having support payments become judgements as they fall due, not subject to retroactive modification.

(b) Development of innovative techniques for collection from self-employed delinquent obligors.

Broad availability of child support remedies, including interstate support enforcement remedies, to clients of private attorneys and pro se litigants, as well as to individuals seeking services through public child support agencies.
(d) Broad participation by a variety of legal groups in the formulation of child support policies, statutes, procedures and guidelines, including private attorneys, public agency and legal services attorneys, judges, and state and local bar groups.

(e) Formulation of child support guidelines, required by the Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984, which provide for adequate levels of support and similar treatment of similarly situated parties. Child support guidelines should be used as a rebuttable presumption for the establishment of child support award levels. Judges and hearing officers should have discretion to deviate from the guidelines when their application would be unjust, provided that either written findings or specific findings on the record are made justifying the deviation. Guidelines should be used by judges and hearing officers to review the adequacy of support levels negotiated by parents.

Child support guidelines should be formulated by a representative group including members of the legislative, judicial and executive branches, a range of attorneys, child support enforcement administrators, and advocates for the interests of custodial and non-custodial parents. Guidelines should be reevaluated and updated periodically.

Formulation of guidelines should address: definition of income; handling of expenses for child care, education, medical and dental care (ordinary and extraordinary) and health insurance; special needs for children (such as handicapping conditions); age of children; treatment of second families; voluntary reduction of income, joint and split custody cases; and other recurrent problems in the establishment of support awards. States should also provide for regular updating of child support awards, by periodic reapplication of guidelines or by other means.

(f) Development of speedy procedures for establishing and enforcing support awards. When administrative and quasi-judicial officers are used for these functions it is essential that adequate protection be afforded the due process rights of all affected persons and parties, including the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent and the state. Particular concern should be addressed to providing all affected persons notice and an opportunity to be heard. Hearing officers should be well-trained and adequately paid.

(g) Improvement of child support enforcement services available from public child support enforcement agencies through adequate funding, training opportunities for staff, improved management, shortened waits for services, rapid disbursements of funds collected, improved information for recipients of services, and attention to ethical concerns for lawyers providing these services.

(h) Improvement of interstate support enforcement through; 1) adoption by states of an effective procedure for interstate income withholding, an example of which is the Model Interstate Income Withholding Act; 2) adoption by states of the 1968 Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act; 3) development of new and innovative approaches to handling interstate child support cases; 4) prompt and efficient handling of all interstate support cases; 5) clear definitions of, and reorganizations of, authority and responsibility for handling interstate cases so that there are not overlapping and conflicting responsibilities among public child support agencies (IV-D agencies), prosecutors office and the court system; and 6) improvement in state cooperation in enforcing orders in interstate cases.