This is interesting. While it would appear that the proposed bill contains some of the "stuff" we have had in Kansas since our guidelines were introduced. I am a bit concerned about the planned parenting time adjustment (PTA). While I appreciate the fact that a non-custodial parent should get some benefit for having the children more. My concern is that I see custodial parents using this as a reason to fight even harder to limit the time non-custodial parents get the children. Yes, I mean that. Can you not see a custodial parent fighting against this, not telling the judge why. But more likely than not, they don't want to give up the money and they don't want the non-custodial parent to have more time.
On Thursday, January 5, Sen. Seth Harp introduced SB 382, a comprehensive revision to the child support guidelines. The 46 page bill includes the Basic Child Support Guidelines Table, makes a number of drafting revisions so that the statute is easier to understand, and proposes several important policy changes.
The good news is that the Child Support Commission recommended using the Average of the Rothbarth and Engel figures which will result in slightly higher child support awards than the pure Rothbarth. Many thanks to all who contacted members of the Child Support Commission to urge them not to shortchange children with the Rothbarth table. I think that members understood it would not make political sense to adopt a table using a measure that underestimates child-rearing expenses. As Chuck Clay noted at the December 19 meeting when they voted on the tables, adopting the Average table sends the message that the Commission’s emphasis is on the children of the state.
The bad news is that SB 382 proposes to lower the threshold for the parenting time adjustment (PTA) to 91 overnights which is roughly 25% of the year. Non-custodial parents would get a 10% discount if they have 91-116 overnights, as compared to the current statute which reduces support by 10% for 100-136 overnights. In my view, the vast majority of families end up with at least 91 days of visitation. So when you are calculating new child support amounts, you might as well go ahead and reduce that amount by 10% since almost all NCPs with standard visitation will hit the 91 day mark.
To add insult to injury, SB 382 eliminates the PTA for NCPs who have fewer than 61 days of visitation per year. In HB 221, the legislature reasoned that custodial parents will shoulder a larger portion of child-rearing expenses where NCPs have less than standard visitation and included a 10% increase in support if visitation is 60-39 days per year. At the December 19 Commission meeting, members voted to eliminate this provision because Tennessee has had problems with this portion of their statute. It is not clear from the meeting minutes precisely what sort of problems Tennessee has had, but I think the PTA could be subject to challenge if it isn’t applied both to upward and downard changes in child support.
If you have concerns about this and other changes in SB 382, please contact your legislators immediately. You can find your elected officials by going to www.vote-smart.org and entering your zipcode."
(Via Georgia Family Law.)