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Florida State Forum / Change in Custody and Support Laws
« on: May 30, 2005, 05:59:30 PM »
Make sure you write your legislators and encourage them to support the changes in criteria for support and custody for the Future of Florida Families Committee.

Florida State Forum / Contact Your FL Legislators & the Governor
« on: Mar 13, 2005, 08:07:46 AM »
Ch. 61.30 of FL's statutes defines a substantive amount of time with the NRP as being 146 overnights or more out of the year. Ask them:

1) Do they believe that FL law should assure that two fit parents be allowed share a substantive/meaningful amount of time with their children, as substantive time is defined by FL statute?

2) Will they support legislation that changes the child support guidelines so that they seamlessly apportion an equitable amount of money between the parents for their children's needs across the time sharing and income distributions that are reality in today's society?

Child Support Issues / FL Child Support Bill
« on: Mar 29, 2006, 06:36:49 AM »
Here is the link to action taken by the Future of Florida's Families Committee yesterday -

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/ ... _28_06.pdf It takes a while to load, so be patient.

There was a lot that went on, but the child support bill starts on page 154 of the document. It passed the committee with amendments 7-0. The Speaker will move it on to other committees. The shared parenting formula starts on line 799. Again, there were amendments, but I don't have that wording to provide to you yet. The amendments were to be favorable. Although not quite there yet, Florida is close to getting it right. I look forward to the opportunity to address other committees as the bill makes its way through the legislature.



New York's Shared Parenting Bill has reached a critical point and we want to help give the bill a strong push forward.

New York is a battleground state for shared parenting and fatherhood. Family law has been in the spotlight there, as the New York Matrimonial Commission has held hearings on family law across the state. The Commission recently recommended no-fault divorce for New York.

A330, the New York Shared Parenting Bill, is sponsored by the Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, the New York affiliate of the American Coalition for Fathers & Children.

What the Bill Would Do

Today joint custody is rare in New York and sole custody for mothers is the norm. A330 would "require the court to award custody to both parents in the absence of allegations that shared parenting would be detrimental to the child." It would place the burden of proof that shared parenting would be detrimental where it should be--on the parent requesting sole custody.

The bill also establishes an order of preference for custody, the top preference being joint custody. If the court decides against joint custody, it must state its reasons.

How to Take Action

The bill is slated to be heard by the New York State Assembly's Children & Families Committee within a few weeks. Nearly three dozen New York State Assemblypersons have signed on to the bill as sponsors or co-sponsors, giving the bill momentum. This momentum will be lost if the bill dies in committee. That's why I want all of you to write to the committee members with your support for this bill.

According to FAFNY, letters and calls from anywhere in the country help because they give the bill attention and show the broad national support for shared parenting.

Like California, New York is a battleground state for family law because what happens there has a great impact on the family law of other states. A victory on A330 would reverberate across the country, aiding in ways large or small every child of divorce.

Hearing from so many of you over the past several years, it would be hard to put into words the amount of pain and misery caused by our current family law system and its sole custody, win/lose orientation. Now is your chance to help change the system.

Go to the following web page to find further instructions and links to communicate with the committee members:


Child Support Issues / Letter to New Hampshire Legislators
« on: Mar 05, 2006, 06:01:03 AM »
Dear Legislators:

Children's needs should supersede any designation which is assigned to a parent. As such, children need to be provided for 365 days per year, nothing less. By only providing for the needs of children on days that they are at custodial parent homes, New Hampshire's child support guidelines have left kids in the lurch on days that they are to be with their non-custodial parent. These child support monies should be apportioned to meet the needs of the child. Inexplicably, the current apportionment of New Hampshire's child support does not provide even a dime for needs as basic as food, shelter, clothing, and transportation when they are with their non-custodial parent. How the Legislature could have overlooked such basic needs of children is nothing short of a tragedy.

Including custodial parent income in the calculation of child support, in addition to non-custodial parent income, which has always been considered, will put hundreds of millions, if not billions of additional dollars on the table, which had not previously been considered for the benefit of New Hampshire's children. If it was already assumed, the custodial parent was spending that money for the benefit of their child, then they should have no problem with a calculation that proves such responsibility.

Not only is HB 1580 fair and just, it will provide for the needs of children where the state of New Hampshire's child support currently leaves them to do without. That depravation of children must not continue. I urge New Hampshire's senators to join their colleagues in the House and pass this legislation that will better provide for children.



If you want to send the same or a similar letter, here are the email addresses to send to:

[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

Here is a link to the bill - http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legisla ... b1580.html

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Child-support payments criteria called outdated
State-sponsored panel urges revision of law


A committee gathered by the Department of Social and Health Services has concluded that the criteria judges use to determine child support payments are outdated and need to be revised by the Legislature.

The 31-page report on child support guidelines was issued earlier this month by a panel of 22 community members from social services and law enforcement.

The document includes several recommendations regarding the standards used to determine child support payments.

But the most important recommendation in the panel's report, according to a DSHS spokesman, was that the Legislature change the law to make sure that the child support schedule be reviewed at least every four years.

Child support payments are determined by tabulating each parent's income; the number, ages and health of the children in question; and sometimes also by the relevant visitation arrangements.

A judge decrees the final monthly payment.

The standards used to determine child support payments need to be updated "to make sure the basic needs of the children are met," said David Stillman, director of the DSHS Division of Child Support.

The panel also recommended that the child support schedule be revised to make sure that judges consider children from earlier marriages when determining what parents owe in child support.

The Legislature can choose to adopt or reject each of the report's recommendations, said DSHS spokesman Adolfo Capestany.

Gov. Christine Gregoire asked the DSHS Division of Child Support in March to assemble the panel.

P-I reporter Sam Skolnik can be reached at 206-448-8334 or [email protected].


Florida House of Representatives
Proposed 2005-2006 Interim Project


Review of Florida’s Child Support Guidelines


Carol Preston, Chief Legislative Analyst


States are required by federal law to review their child support guidelines at least once every four years in order to ensure that their application results in child support award amounts that are fair and appropriate.  As a part of that review process, states must analyze case data related to the application of and deviations from, the guidelines. States must also consider economic data related to the cost of raising children. Staff of the Florida House of Representatives has traditionally taken the lead in completing the reviews to meet the federal mandate.  The 1993 and 1997 reviews were conducted by staff with the Committee on Judiciary, the 2001 review was done by staff with the Committee on Family Law and Children, and, if approved, this review will be overseen by staff with the Future of Florida’s Families Committee.  In spite of timely guideline reviews, the Florida Legislature has not adjusted the guideline schedules since 1993.  Since the underlying data for the current schedule enacted in 1993 is the 1972-1973 Consumer Expenditure Survey, the schedule is considerably out of date.


The proposed interim project will meet the federal review mandate. In preparation for the project, the Florida Legislature entered into a $175,000 contract in March 2003 with the FSU Department of Economics to update the existing schedule amounts and examine related issues, including visitation arrangements, problems arising when there are prior and subsequent children, and problems experienced by low income families.  

The interim project should include the following components:

•   One or more “roundtable” type workshops with all stakeholders (e.g., Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, the Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Department of Revenue, Commission on Marriage and Family Support Initiatives, Florida Legal Services, and custodial and noncustodial parents);
•   Consultation with researchers at FSU;
•   Review of child support guidelines literature;
•   Review of child support guidelines models;
•   Review of guidelines currently in use in all other states as well as guideline review reports recently issued by other states;
•   Case law review; and
•   Public input.


The review will result in a formal written report and proposed legislation for the 2006 legislative session.


A progress report will be presented to Chair Galvano and the members of the Future of Florida’s Families Committee in September 2005.  The formal report will be completed by December 31, 2005 and proposed legislation (with the request for introduction of a Proposed Committee Bill) will be submitted for approval to the Speaker’s Office by February 1, 2006.

Child Support Guideline Changes in Minnesota and Australia

June 17, 2005

by Roger F. Gay


The Australian government recently announced a new proposal for their child support guidelines. The design, presented by Patrick Parkinson, has been dubbed the Parkinson formula. But the basics of the formula are not new. They are in fact quite similar to guidelines fathers' rights advocates in the states have been complaining about since their introduction in late 1989.

Australia, like several states in the U.S., has been using a percent formula in which basic child support is assessed simply as a percent of a payer's income adjusted for the number of children being supported. Several states, including Minnesota have considered switching to the more popular variation based on what is known as the Income Shares model.

The Income Shares approach was proposed by child support collection entrepreneur Robert Williams (Policy Studies, Inc.) at the request of the federal collection agency in the U.S. (Office of Child Support Enforcement within the Department of Health and Human Services). Government enforcement agencies receive bonuses from federal funds based on the amount of child support paid through their system. Pseudo private collection agencies, such as Williams', retain a percent of the amount paid as commission for their services. Both groups favor formulae that arbitrarily increase support orders because of the increased income their agencies receive as a result.

Introducing the proposed change, John Hirst of The Australian reports that "It is hard to estimate the proportions of winners and losers in this scheme." Not really. Professors Sanford Braver at Arizona State University and David Stockburger at Southwest Missouri State University have already done a great deal of work on analyzing the differences between the two models. When looking at "new" proposals, the public should have greater awareness that child support issues are far from new.

The effort to replace judicial child support decisions with child support formulae began two decades ago. The use of presumptively correct child support formula began in the U.S. and Australia in 1989. Prior to that, state courts, local bar, and other professional associations worked on child support guidelines. More than one effort and some scientific analysis appeared in publications.

Aside from that, state courts in the U.S. had more than two centuries and Australia more than one to perfect child support decision theory. Even those efforts had a starting point in British common law that had evolved over hundreds of previous years. The effort to codify issues related to divorce presented in a commonly familiar written record goes back literally to the time of Moses, and there is archeological evidence that divorce issues and their settlements predate even that in a variety of cultures.

Despite the fact that the problem of making appropriate child support decisions has such a long history, it is widely agreed that child support formulae in use today do not do a proper job. In preparing new proposals for governments, serious work on developing a valid mathematical decision model is ignored.

Australians and Minnesotans are being told that the Income Shares model takes a step toward fairness compared to the percent formula. While there may be some slight truth to this view, for the most part the switch is from one formula that produces arbitrarily high results to one that produces a different set of arbitrarily high results. Neither model has been developed from the principles that emerged from hundreds of years of experience in adjudication of child support on several continents. Both were created to arbitrary increase the size of payments.

The recent history of child support reform in both the U.S. and Australia hinges on a single fundamental change. Child support (as well as other family issues) has been transformed as a matter of law from the private domain to the public. Decisions are now taken en masse and entirely open to political manipulation. The connection to principles of purpose and fairness were lost in the transition.

John Hirst puts the task of altering child support guidelines in the current context; "can the burden on fathers be lifted without harming children and outraging their mothers, supported by a strong feminist lobby?"

Not long ago, such a question would have been treated with contempt. Courts were, until recently, required to make independent and objective decisions. The suggestion that special interest groups may influence such decisions would have immediately been labeled for what it is: corruption. Any judge known to bow to such pressure may have been dismissed for bad behavior. When legislators bowed to such pressure, it would have been seen as a scandal at the very least.

Roger F. Gay


Child Support Issues / GA Passes Sweeping Child Support Changes
« on: Apr 01, 2005, 05:02:38 AM »
Yesterday, Georgia, one of the last states with an obligor only set of child support guidelines, passed a new income shares set of guidelines. Although it was not the income shares model desired by many behind the reform, the changes made by this legislation are significant.

Not only does the new bill now include the incomes of both parents, it also gives some credit when children spend 100 days or more with their NCP. Conversely, the formula increases the child support award if the child is not able to spend at least 60 days per year with their NCP. There are still easily identifiable mathematical flaws about the formula, and extreme changes in support awards result from irrationally small differences in time spent between both homes. Even so, it is a significant step towards child support being based upon costs for children, better known as a costs shares child support guideline.

The Georgia Senate amended the original House Bill 35-9, and passed it back to the Georgia House, where it finally passed 104-41. The legisation now sits on Republican Sonny Perdue's desk for signature.

For more info see - http://www.gachildsupport.org/index.php?POSTNUKESID=a36875d9113bbe1af762ac961e711f09

Child Support Issues / Is this friggin cool or what?
« on: Mar 23, 2005, 10:36:55 AM »
Dear Mr. POC,

Thank you for taking the time to drive up to Tallahassee. After a follow up meeting with Carol Preston, I have decided to take up legislation next Legislative Session regarding the guidelines centering around the 40% visitation threshold.

More importantly, Ms. Preston has informed me that there will be a work group on the issue over the summer, which I will be a part of.

I will keep you informed of our progress.


Mike Davis
Representative, District 101
Serving Collier and Broward Counties

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