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New Child Support Guidelines

Effective August 1, 2005, the Child Support Guidelines changed dramatically. The former guidelines were based on economic data from 1999 and the guidelines themselves have a review process that includes consideration of more recent economic data. The commission for Child Support Guidelines contracted with a Denver company to develop a new schedule based on more recent economic data, to incorporate changes in the low income area, and to extend the schedule to include higher incomes. The guidelines allow for a calculation of current support based on each parent's share of the amount estimated to be spent on the child if the parents and child live in an intact household. Intact households are used for the estimates because of the guidelines' aim to provide children the same support they would receive if the parents lived together.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics produced a consumer expenditure survey. The survey data includes information on several hundred items purchased by households. The bureau categorizes these items into major categories such as food, housing, clothing, transportation, and health care. Excluded from these categories are personal insurance, savings accounts, pension plans, and mortgage principal payments. The mortgage principal payments are excluded as they constitute a form of savings.

The most important changes to the Child Support Guidelines are as follows:

  • Allowable Deductions From Gross Income. The medical insurance premium deduction now includes the amount for the child whose support is being determined and court ordered life insurance payments for the benefit of the child also are added into allowable deductions.
  • Gross Income. The maximum hourly wages per week that are included in gross income have been reduced from 52 to 45 hours per week and tribal stipends have been added as a gross income inclusion.
  • Net Disposable Income. For the purposes of calculating unreimbursed medical and child care contribution amounts, 80% of alimony paid by one of the parents to the other is now added to the net income of the parent receiving income and deducted from the net income of the paying parent. Also, social security dependency benefits for the child that are on the earning records of the non-custodial parent, are now added to the net income of the custodial parent.
  • Extension To Higher Incomes. The upper limit of the schedule of basic obligations increased from $2,500 to $4,000 combined net weekly income.
  • Health Care Coverage. The child's health insurance premium is no longer deducted from the basic child support obligation of a low-income obligor and those same low-income obligors are now exempt from Husky plan contributions. In addition, the first $100 per year, per child, of unreimbursed medical expenses is no longer excluded from the order for payment of unreimbursed medical expenses.

There are also many more changes that will affect each individual case as the circumstances apply. It is of the utmost importance to all Family Law practitioners to become familiar with these changes, as they apply to any case that is heard subsequent to August 1, 2005. Copies of the new Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines are available in the Clerks' Offices.


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