- The Family Support Act of 1998, also known as Public Law#100-485 or FSA, was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on October 13, 1988.
- Ronald Reagan’s remarks on the bill.
- Actual bill
- Bill summary
- Legislation was codified in 42 U.S.C. § 667.
- Legislation was interpreted by the governing federal agency (OCSE) in 45 C.F.R. § 302.56.
- It was the result of years of work from a study commissioned by the Office of Child Support Enforcement from 1984-1987 called the National Child Support Guidelines.
- It is one of the most influential pieces of legislation affecting child support ever passed by Congress because it greatly enhanced the federal role in child support.
- It was labelled welfare reform because it was intended to reduce spending on federal welfare programs like AFDC by helping parents become self-sufficient through education/training programs and by requiring parents to be financially responsible for their children.
- The first major change was child support calculation. The original requirements regarding child support included the following:
1. Have one set of guidelines to be used by judges (and all persons within a state with the authority) to issue a child support order1
2. Consider all earnings and income of the non-custodial parent in the calculation of support2
3. Provide for the child’s healthcare coverage3
4. Review guidelines at least every four years; and in that review, consider the findings from an analysis of case file data on guidelines applications and deviation, and economic evidence on the cost of raising children4
- The second one was the requirement for immediate wage garnishment in all cases (public and private) unless there was one of three exceptions:
1. If one party demonstrates and Court finds there is good cause not to require it,
2. If both parties agree in writing to alternative arrangement or
3. at HHS Secretary’s discretion if state an demonstrate that the rule will not increase effectiveness or efficiency of state’s CSE program.
- This allowed the federal government to funnel additional money through the system.
- Enforcement measures continued to be strengthened including the denial of passport issuances and renewals for those parents owing $5,000 or more.
- Two economic studies dealing with measuring the costs of raising children were funded. The first study was done by Dr. David Betson. The goal was to define the patterns of expenditures in two-parent and single parent families. Dr. Betson published this study in 1990.
- The second study was done by Lewin/ICF and it was called the ‘Estimates of Expenditures on Children and Child Support Guidelines. It reviewed many other studies on the expenditures made on children.
- Primarily based on concerns about low-income parents, OCSE published the first major change to the Regulations on December 31, 2016 in Executive Order 13563.
- Summary of the Modernization Rule.
- It expanded the original requirements to include the following:
1. A state’s guidelines must take into consideration the basic subsistence needs of the noncustodial parent who has a limited ability to pay5
2. If imputation of income is allowed, it must take into account the specific circumstances of the noncustodial parent based on the known facts, using the 14 specific factors listed in the rule
3. Incarceration may not be treated as a voluntary unemployment in creating or modifying support orders6
4.Allows for child’s healthcare needs to be satisfied through public healthcare coverage7
5.As part of the review, states must do the following:
a. consider labor market data by occupation and skill-level, the impact of guidelines amounts on parties with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, factors that influence employment rates amount non-custodial parents and compliance with child support orders, and analyze rates of default and imputed child support orders and orders determined using the adjustment for noncustodial parent’s subsistence needs8
b. Provide opportunity for pubic input, including input from low-income parents and their representatives and the state/local IV-D agency,9 and
c. Mall all reports public and accessible on the internet, make membership of the reviewing body known, and publish the effective date of the guidelines and the date of the next review10
1 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(a)
2 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(c)(1)(i)
3 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(c)(2)
4 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(e)
5 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(c)(1)(ii)
6 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(c)(1)(iii)
7 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(a)
8 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(c)(3)
9 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(h)(1) & (h)(2)
10 45 C.F.R. § 302.56(e)