Back 

2012 Child Support and Family Law Legislative Enac

2012 Child Support and Family Law Legislative Enactment Summaries

Circle of Children

Updated May 2013

State child support programs are governed by policies related to locating noncustodial parents, establishing paternity, establishing and modifying support orders (including medical support), collecting support payments and enforcing child support orders. The collection of child support is also influenced by decisions made around custody and visitation, domestic violence and healthy relationships, employment and other services to parents. During the 2012 legislative session at least 42 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico passed laws related to some aspect of collecting financial support on behalf of children.

The majority of bills are related to the core mission of collecting and enforcing support orders. At least 12 states addressed issues related to locating parents and establishing paternity, including two that specifically addressed surrogacy concerns. Order establishment, including income guidelines, health care coverage and age of majority and child support termination were addressed by at least 13 states and Guam. At least 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico passed laws related to collection and enforcement of child support orders, including policies on garnishments and employer compliance with income withholding; intercepting lottery and gambling winnings; and policies related to professional and driver license suspensions.    

Many state child support programs are using a family-centered service approach and providing more support to parents than just collection and enforcement. Legislation in at least 15 states supports this family-centered approach by addressing issues relating to health care coverage; visitation and involvement by noncustodial parents; incarceration and re-entry into the community; military family concerns; and educating teens about child support. (Note: These family-centered bills are marked with an *)

Child support was addressed by nearly all state legislatures that convened in 2012. It is an important source of income for families, and legislatures are continuously reviewing and revising statutes to ensure child support programs are meeting the needs of children and families. The following sections describe in greater detail the legislation enacted in 2012.

If you would like to skip to a specific topic, please view the table of contents. You may also visit our Child Support and Family Law Legislation Database

CORE CHILD SUPPORT FUNCTIONS

During the 2012 session, states addressed a number of core child support functions. The new laws seek to improve parent location efforts and information sharing between agencies. Legislatures amended paternity establishment laws and created new laws to deal with surrogacy situations. States made changes to child support guidelines and medical support, as well as the age at which child support ends. Legislation also addressed new child support collection methods including garnishments, workers’ compensation, lump sum payments, estate attachment, license revocation, and gambling/lottery winnings.

Locating Parents and Information Sharing

In order to determine paternity, establish a child support order and collect support, states must be able to locate the noncustodial parent. Nine states enacted laws that require state departments to share location, financial, insurance and identifying information with each other. The types of departments required to share information included departments of public safety, social services, state, and other agencies.

  • Alabama HB 272 (Act 2012-362) provides that the Department of Public Safety may require all applicants for issuance or renewal of a driver's license or learner's permit for a private or commercial motor vehicle to provide the applicant's Social Security number. The law also requires any department that collects Social Security numbers to provide that information to the state IV‑D agency upon request for assistance with child support cases.

  • The California Legislature enacted three bills related to locate and information sharing. California AB 1751 (Chap. 637) requires all state departments, boards, agencies, bureaus, or other agencies of the state, or any of its political subdivisions, to provide information to county child welfare agencies and county probation departments for use in identifying, locating, and notifying the parents of children who are in juvenile court proceedings, as well as for use in establishing parent and child relationships and in assessing the appropriateness of placing the child with a noncustodial parent. It also authorizes the release of a parent’s name, Social Security number, most recent address, telephone number, place of employment, or other contact information to county child welfare agencies and county probation departments that administer federal programs for foster care and child and family services. The law requires the state Department of Social Services and Department of Child Support Services to issue, by July 1, 2013, an all-county letter or similar instruction explaining that county child welfare agencies and probation departments are entitled to specified information contained in child and spousal support records. It also requires that the information exchange between the California Parent Locator Service or the California Child Support Automation System and the county child welfare agency be done through automated processes to the extent feasible. By imposing new requirements on cities and counties, this law also imposes a state-mandated local program. Statutory provisions also establish procedures for making the state reimburse certain local agency costs. This law also provides that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions. California AB 2343 (Chap. 256) allows the summary criminal history information including the identification and criminal history of any person, such as his or her name, date of birth, physical description, fingerprints, photographs, dates of arrest, arresting agencies and booking numbers, charges, dispositions, and similar data about the person to be provided to the local child support agency. California SB 1023 (Chap. 43) requires a child support agency who has received a summary criminal history report to delete or purge any information concerning or arising from the offenses for which the person was arrested, charged, or convicted with the exception of any offenses related to the parent’s failure to comply with a child support order.

  • Colorado SB 42 (Chap. 30) requires the Colorado Department of State to provide information through data matches concerning assets owned by a person who owes child support in another state when requested by another state. It requires the department to enter into agreements with financial institutions to find data matches and for data matches to be conducted quarterly. The department must provide financial institutions with the names and identifying information (including address and Social Security number) of persons who owe past due child support. Financial institutions or state agencies shall encumber or surrender assets if they receive a notice of lien or levy from the department against the obligor parent.

  • The Florida Legislature enacted two laws. Florida HB 749 (Chap. 2012-67) provides that anyone applying for an initial license, or a renewal, must submit his or her Social Security number. The use of the Social Security number is limited to administering the child support enforcement program. Florida SB 446 (Chap. 2012-200) extended the Open Government Sunset Review Act, which allows insurance claim data exchange information to be used for identifying parents who owe past due child support.

  • Iowa S 2159 (Chap. 1033) restricts the use and disclosure of confidential information, including payment records, to only the child support program, SNAP or child welfare, Medicaid, or CHIP. The law limits access to the parent locator services to authorized persons and limits the government agencies that may access the central employee registry.

  • Indiana SB 287 (P.L. 128) adds child support to the programs to which an agency may disclose a Social Security number. It also amends current law so that support collected for a child who is receiving assistance under the Title IV-E (child welfare) assistance program may be sent directly to the IV-D agency after the agency has sent notice to the child support obligor and obligee without further court order.

  • Mississippi SB 2604 (Chap. 515) reenacts the Department of Human Service’s requirement for the child support unit to establish a state parent locator service by the Department of Human Services.

  • Nebraska L.B. 1160 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop an Advanced Planning Document for a web-based, statewide-automated child welfare information system. It requires the system to include integration across related social services programs through automated interfaces, including, but not limited to, child support, the courts, Medicaid eligibility, and financial processes.

  • When deducting a debt owed to a state agency or court from a tax refund, Oklahoma SB 1471 (Chap. 256), requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission to provide the Department of Human Services with information including the amount withheld, the home address and the Social Security number of the taxpayer. A claim filed by the Department of Human Services for the collection of child support and spousal support will have priority over all other claims.

Establishing Paternity

Paternity Establishment/Revocation or Disestablishment of Paternity

Four states enacted bills concerning the establishment or disestablishment of paternity. Establishing paternity is essential in child support cases to ensure accuracy in orders and to promote healthy family relationships. Several states passed legislation outlining procedures to revoke orders of paternity. 

  • Iowa SB 2165 (Chap. 1061) allows the department of human services to prepare a notice of alleged paternity and a support order when a government official, relying on government documents, provides the department with a written statement of potential paternity. Prior to passage of this law, only the mother was allowed to provide a written statement alleging paternity to the department.

  • Louisiana SB 90 (Act 621) requires the state registrar to prepare a new birth certificate when a child who has obtained a judgment of paternity requests a new birth certificate. The new birth certificate must list the child's last name as that of the father recognized by the paternity judgment, or a combination of the last name of the recognized father and the maiden name of the mother.

  • Michigan created the Revocation of Paternity Act with Michigan SB 557 (P.A. 159) which allows acknowledgements, determinations, and judgments relating to paternity to be set aside in certain circumstance including when there has been an affidavit filed by the mother, the acknowledged father, the alleged father or the prosecuting attorney, alleging one of the following: mistake of fact, newly discovered evidence, fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct, or duress in signing the acknowledgment. The Legislature also passed Michigan HB 5328 (P.A. 161) and Michigan HB 5329 (P.A. 162) which require a court with jurisdiction over proceedings brought under the parentage act have continuing jurisdiction under the revocation of paternity act.

  • Mississippi SB 2363 (Chap. 387) provides for a one-year rescission period for the voluntary acknowledgement of paternity.

Surrogacy and Donors

Two states passed legislation concerning surrogacy and donors as they relate to child support and paternity. The legislation is designed to clarify the intent of persons who donate genetic material as a surrogate, or otherwise participate in assisted reproduction. 

  • The Legislature in California addressed legal issues concerning assisted reproduction with California AB 1217 (Chap. 466) which prohibits the legal spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child through assisted reproduction from challenging the parentage of the child unless he or she brings the action within two years of the child’s birth, and the court finds that he or she did not consent to assisted reproduction. The bill also allows a court to authorize a proceeding to determine parentage at any time if the court determines that the legal spouse did not provide genetic material for, or did not consent to, assisted reproduction and has not lived with the spouse since the time of assisted reproduction, and has not held the child out as his or her own. This bill states that a person who provides genetic material for, or consents to assisted reproduction, with the intent to be the parent of the resulting child, is in fact the parent.

  • Maryland HB 101 (Chap. 649) expands the definition of “child” to include a child conceived from the genetic material of a person after his or her death, provided that the deceased person had consented in writing to the use of their genetic material. The bill provides that no child conceived after the death of a person is entitled to inheritance unless: the decedent had given written consent to use his or her genetic material for posthumous conception; the decedent gave written consent to be the parent of the child posthumously conceived; and the child was posthumously conceived within two years of decedent’s death. This bill does not apply to anyone who donated genetic material to a tissue bank or fertility clinic with the intent of remaining anonymous permanently, or until the child reached adulthood. 

Establishing Orders

Each state has child support guidelines in place that are used to establish child support orders and dictate how long orders remain in effect. The guidelines specify the calculation formula used to determine how much money a parent should contribute to support his or her child financially. States can deviate from these orders if it is in the best interest of the child. States must periodically review their guidelines in order to ensure that they are helping to establish orders fairly and accurately.  

Guidelines

Each state has the ability to choose which child support guidelines model to implement. The 2012 legislative changes focused on net income thresholds to account for cost of living adjustments and expanding and clarifying what needs should be covered under a parent’s duty to support a child. 

  • California addressed procedural and substantive elements of the child support guidelines. Procedurally, under California AB 1727 (Chap. 77) an obligor may request relief from a judge, without requiring the obligee to be present, instead of requiring traditional filing and service requirements to modify child support orders when the child emancipates or dies. Substantively,  California AB 2393 (Chap. 646) increases the net disposable income threshold for calculating support and requires the threshold to be adjusted annually for cost of living increases and changes in the state Consumer Price Index.

  • Similarly, Illinois enacted procedural and substantive changes to the laws governing child support guidelines. Illinois HB 3960 (P.A. 878) provides that net income calculation is not reduced by the total income premiums for life insurance ordered by the court to reasonably secure payment of ordered child support. The legislature also expanded the term “duty of support” through Illinois SB 2569 (P.A. 941) to include educational needs in addition to the physical, mental and emotional needs of a child. It adds the mental and educational needs of the child to the factors that a court may consider in making a deviation from the child support calculation. The bill also allows the court to order either or both parents to contribute money to the following expenses: health expenses not covered by insurance, child care, education and extracurricular activities.

  • Maryland SB 379 (Chap. 66) clarifies the definition of "ordinary and necessary expenses" does not include amounts allowable by the IRS for the accelerated component of depreciation expenses or investment tax credits or any other business expenses determined by the court to be inappropriate for determining actual income for purposes of calculating child support.

  • Mississippi HB 1157 (Chap. 552) added payment of child care expenses by the obligee under specified circumstances to the list of criteria that would be considered an unjust or inappropriate application of the guidelines.

  • New Hampshire HB 597 (Chap. 2012-248) changes the guideline calculation so that the percentage of income used to determine the support order is based not only on the number of children but fluctuates based on income level.

Age of Majority

Legislation concerning the age of majority, i.e. termination of child support, did not follow a consistent trend.  Indiana lowered the age of majority, while Guam and Kansas added a provision to ensure that children over the age of 18 who are still enrolled in high school continue to receive support. North Carolina (HB 589, Chap. 2012-20) provides for the continuance of child support.

  • Indiana changed the age of majority from 21 to 19 with Indiana SB 18 (P.L. 111). This change provides that the duty to support a child ends at age 19 instead of age 21.  However, the duty to support does not include support for educational needs. The bill allows a child to file a petition for educational needs support. 

  • Guam Public Law 31-271 clarifies that child support terminates when the child marries, becomes emancipated, reaches the age of majority or graduates from high school but not to exceed 19 years of age.

  • Kansas SB 304 (Chap. 2012-162) adds technical changes to provisions concerning child support. The bill also adds the phrase "bona fide high school student" to ensure that children who are over 18, but are still actually enrolled in high school, continue to receive support.

  • South Carolina HB 3400  (Act 273) provides that a child support obligation automatically terminates when the child turns eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever is sooner. It also provides that no arrearage may be incurred after the date of the child's eighteenth birthday.

  • Wyoming SB 39 (Chap. 24) allows a legal obligation of a noncustodial parent to provide support for their adult child with a mental or physical disability to be adjusted if such an adjustment is in the best interest of the adult child.

Health Care Coverage

Child support orders are required to include provisions ensuring a child has adequate health care coverage. State child support agencies are required to enforce medical support. Two states updated laws to help enforce medical support orders; others addressed issues relating to Medicaid and prescriptions. The Minnesota Legislature addressed contributions to medical assistance. Arizona enacted a law to improve access to a child’s prescriptions.

  • Arizona HB 2252 (Chap. 203) provides that a parent with joint legal custody shall not designate one pharmacy in a single location as the only source of the child's prescription medication without the agreement of the other parent and shall grant access to the prescription medication to the other parent. A parent who violates this section will face legal sanctions.

  • Connecticut SB 234 (P.A. 12-119) requires health insurers to provide the Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioner information about a policyholder’s transactions when presented with an official, written request to do so. DSS prescribes the format for presenting the information and in order to use it to identify, determine, or establish Medicaid beneficiaries with other (third party) insurance. The law also requires any of the health care entities to either conduct or allow the DSS commissioner to conduct automated data matches to identify parents and minor children with overlapping coverage.

  • Hawaii HB 2441* (Act 2012-35) states that if an employer receives a medical support order from the state agency, it must transfer the notice within 20 business days to the appropriate health plan for which the child is eligible or enroll the dependent child in the plan and withhold the required premium from the employee’s income. Requires the employer to notify the agency if the employee’s employment was terminated.

  • Minnesota HF 2294 (Chap. 247) extends the temporary changes to medical assistance contribution amounts that were implemented in fiscal year 2011 for two years from 2013 to 2015. The changes relate to a sliding scale depending on the adjusted gross income of the natural or adoptive parents and include references to child support cases. The law also allows the public authority to stop collecting child care support if either party informs the public authority no child care costs are being incurred and the obligee verifies the information or the obligee fails to respond to a written request for information about child care costs.

Collecting Support and Enforcing Orders

Garnishments

The majority of child support is collected through wage garnishment or income withholding. Four states and Puerto Rico enacted legislation related to the garnishment process. The 2012 legislation was aimed at conforming to federal laws and regulations, updating garnishment forms, adding types of compensation that may be garnished and clarifying that child support payments have priority over other assignments.

  • Colorado HB 1310 (Chap. 268) stipulates that garnishment for court fees and/or fines have priority over other garnishments, liens, or income assignments EXCEPT those for child support arrearages, maintenance when combined with child support, or child support debts.

  • Michigan SB 1001 (P.A. 357) provides for fee for collecting and processing child support withholdings.

  • Puerto Rico HB 2279 (Law Number 30-2012) amends the Special Law on Child Support to clarify the contents and conform to the laws and federal regulations on the subject of garnishment for support of children. The law also defines and adopts the concept of "cash medical support" for inclusion in the maintenance obligations.

  • The Virginia legislature enacted three bills addressing garnishment. Virginia HB 362 and Virginia SB 89 (similar; Chap. 23 and Chap. 79) corrects the form listing garnishment exemptions by replacing the reference to rent or services of a laborer or mechanic with spousal or child support to reflect amendments that were never incorporated into the form. Virginia HB 1095 (Chap. 39) provides that a court may enforce a support order by entering a qualified domestic relations order or other support order designed to attach or garnish pensions and other deferred compensation or retirement plans governed by federal law.

  • Washington HB 1552 (Chap. 159) modifies the forms used in wage garnishment by creating separate forms for writs for continuing liens on earnings and writs issued for other personal property, including separate answer and exemption claim forms. The garnishment attorney fee is changed to a minimum of $100 or 10 percent of the unsatisfied judgment and a maximum of $300. The wage exemption for writs for continuing liens on earnings is increased to 35 times the federal minimum hourly wage. Certain public employee pensions are exempt when in the possession of the person or deposited in a bank account. The law also specifies interest rates, fees and other costs associated with the garnishment. A continuing lien on earnings has priority over any prior wage assignment, EXCEPT an assignment for child support.

Workers’ Compensation

Legislative proposals in two states authorizing workers compensation settlements to be used to pay child support. 

  • California SB 863 (Chap. 363) contains a provision allowing child support to be paid out of workers' compensation payments where a lien is in effect.

  • Louisiana HB 737 and SB 520 (similar; Act 99 and Act 793), relative to workers' compensation benefits, provides that a child under 18 (or older, if physically or mentally incapacitated from earning) who has a valid child support order against deceased employee is conclusively presumed to be a dependent of the employee regardless of whether child support is actually being paid, or until the age of twenty-three if enrolled and attending any accredited educational institution as a full-time student.

Lump Sum Payments

Lump sum payments, such as medical injury claims and structured settlements, may be applied to child support arrears. In three states, legislation addressed applying income withholding and attachment to collect the lump sums payments for child support arrears.

  • Delaware SB 273 (Chap. 307) expands the definition of income to include a lump sum payment. The law allows the Division of Child Support Enforcement to issue an income withholding order against the lump sum payment to pay arrears or retroactive support.

  • New Hampshire SB 406 (Chap. 2012-288) includes a provision allowing claims for child support and/or spousal support to be enforced against economic loss settlements in medical injury claims.

  • Vermont HB 778 (Act 2012-168) establishes standards for and requires court approval of structured legal settlements and the sale of the payment rights to a third party. Requires the transferee to file a copy of the sale application with the attorney general’s office and a copy of the application and the payee’s Social Security number with the office of child support.

Estates

When the noncustodial parent dies, state laws vary in how the estate may be disbursed. Two states enacted measures to make sure that children receive financial support after a noncustodial parent dies.

  • Florida SB 990 (Chap. 2012-48) defines natural guardians as “parents” (not mother and father) and in cases of dissolution assigns sole parental responsibility to the parent to whom that responsibility has been granted (or in cases of shared parental responsibility to both). Where neither parent is responsible there is no natural guardian. The law clarifies that it is the right of natural guardians to settle and consummate a settlement of causes of action for damages, collect and manage property distributed from an estate or trust, collect and manage elections from a life insurance policy or annuity contract, and collect and manage or make elections regarding the proceeds of certain retirement plans where the amounts do not exceed $15,000.

  • Virginia SB 115 (Chap. 614) creates a new title “Wills, Trusts and Fiduciaries.” The title includes provisions that determine the rights in and to property pursuant to any deed, will, trust or other instrument by defining the relationship of parent and child must be established to determine succession or a taking by, through, or from a person. It allows individuals with power of attorney to make distributions for child support.

Gambling and Lottery Winnings

Four states enacted legislation requiring that state lottery entities apply gambling and lottery winnings to child support or that they share prize information with the child support agency.

  • Delaware SB 151 (Chap. 245) requires the Director of Lotteries be notified by the Division of Child Support Enforcement that a person is delinquent in support payments. The law also requires that person's video lottery prize winnings be sent to the Division to be applied to the delinquent support.

  • Massachusetts HB 4260 requires the proposed Taunton casino, before paying a patron winnings in excess of $600, to verify the patron’s identification and based on IV-D agency information determine if the patron owes past-due child support to the state. Subsequent to statutory state and federal tax withholding, the tribe shall first disburse to the IV-D agency the full amount of the cash or prize or such portion of the cash or prize that satisfies the patron’s past-due child support obligation and disburse any remaining amount to the patron.

  • If the amount of the prize money or the cost of goods or services awarded as a lottery prize award meets or exceeds $600, Ohio HB 386 (Session Law 126) requires the State Lottery Commission to make the person affirm in writing, under oath, or by electronic means, whether or not the person is in default under a support order. 

  • Rhode Island HB 8213 and SB 3001 (similar; P.L. 2012-289 and P.L. 2012-290) provides for the regulation of table gaming and adds table game prizes to funds that may be intercepted for child support arrears.

Employers

Employers play an important role in collecting child support through income withholding. Eight states, the District of Columbia and Guam updated laws on withholding and requiring employers to report the date an employee first performed services and/or employee and payor notice requirements.

  • Arizona HB 2248 (Chap. 49) requires an employer doing business in Arizona to report to the Department of Economic Security the date an employee first performed services for pay. This information may be disclosed to certain entities in order to locate parents to establish paternity and to establish, modify and enforce child support obligations.

  • District of Columbia B 739 (Chap. 536) requires that employers report the date of hire to the District of Columbia Directory of New Hires, defined as the first day that the employee performed services for compensation.

  •  Delaware SB 274 (Chap. 311) provides that employers are required to report the date an employee first performs services for pay when reporting to the State Directory of New Hires.

  • Guam Public Law 31-95 requires all employers with 10 or more employees to electronically remit child support payments and withholdings.

  • Illinois amended acts to address income withholding and reporting compliance for self-employed individuals. Illinois HB 5221 (P.A. 994) amends the Income Withholding for Support Act providing that an income withholding notice must state a payor’s duties and possible penalties in bold face type. It also provides that a payor be subject to a penalty if he or she knowingly fails to withhold the amount designated in an income withholding notice or to pay any amount withheld to the State Disbursement Unit within seven business days. Illinois SB 3459  (P.A. 1029) amends various acts relating to child support, specifically requiring a person who conducts a business or who is self‑employed and found guilty of contempt for failure to pay support, to provide to the court monthly financial statements from the business or the self‑employment, a diary or other memorandum of employment search efforts, or report to the Department of Employment Security for job search services to find employment that will be subject to withholding of child support.

  • Kansas SB 306 (Chap. 2012-134) requires that within 20 business days of the hiring, an employer must report to the Kansas Secretary of Labor when a newly hired employee started working. The bill defines a “newly hired employee” to mean an employee who either has not previously been employed by the employer or was previously employed by the employer but has been separated from employment for a minimum of 60 days.

  • Louisiana HB 224 (Act 64) replaces the word "employer" with the word "payor" in the statute requiring the payor of income to withhold income of a payee who owes child support.

  • Maine HB 1199 (Chap. 528) requires the court to notify any individual or department implementing an immediate income withholding order of the requirement to serve the obligor's payor of income with both the support order and the payor notice. The law eliminates the need for the court to issue an income order that conforms to standard formats and requires the court to instruct the obligee or an obligor seeking to implement an order on where to obtain the payor notice.

  • Washington HB 2393 (Chap. 109) requires all employers in the state to report to the state report registry the hiring date of any person who resides or works in the state to whom the employer anticipates paying earnings and who has not previously been employed by the employer or was previously employed by the employer but has been separated from such employment for 60 consecutive days.

  • West Virginia HB 4523 (Act 25) requires employers to report the contracting of services with an independent contractor and report payments made to an independent contractor if over $2500 to the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement.

Arrearages and Interest

Four states and Guam enacted legislation to deal with past due child support.

  • Guam Public Law 31-174 directs the Attorney General to publish a "Most Wanted Delinquent Absent Parent List" and other child support lists of delinquent obligors.

  • Maryland HB 651* (Chap. 670) establishes that child support payments are not past due and arrearages may not accrue during any period when the obligor is incarcerated and for a specified period after the obligor's release from confinement under specified circumstances. It authorizes the Child Support Enforcement Administration to adjust an incarcerated obligor's payment account in specified cases to reflect the suspension of the accrual of arrearages.

  • Minnesota SF 2114 (Chap. 183) repeals a law that would have extended the survival of child support judgments from 10 to 20 years. 

  • Oklahoma SB 1199 (Chap. 253) provides that interest shall accrue on the delinquent support amounts from the date they became delinquent and that lump sum judgments for support owed prior to the establishment of current support shall draw interest from the first day of the month after the lump sum judgment is entered. It also allows a designee of the Director of Human Services to review any decisions made after a hearing.

  • South Dakota HB 1126 (Chap. 144) specifies any cash bond deposited with the court to assure appearance of an individual charged with nonsupport of a child or subject to civil proceedings to enforce child support obligations, may, at the discretion of the court, be ordered paid to the Department of Social Services or the support obligee. The cash bond will be applied to child support arrearages as a condition imposed either by the court or for failure to appear.

License Revocation/Suspension

Some states revoke or suspend licenses in order to enforce child support payments. During 2012, at least 12 states enacted legislation to revoke or suspend driver’s and professional licenses. Laws also addressed due process considerations for individuals losing or trying to regain their licenses.

  • California AB 1822 (Chap. 317) amends the Architects Practice Act and specifies that an individual who is out of compliance with their child support order may not receive a renewal or issuance of an architect’s license.

  • Delaware HB 257 (Chap. 265) provides that no action to deny or suspend the license may be taken until a taxpayer has exhausted his or her rights to due process. It also authorizes the Division of Revenue to notify the director of the Division of Professional Regulation, in addition to existing authority to the Family Court and Division of Child Support.

  • Florida HB 725 (Chap. 2012-209) authorizes the Department of Financial Services to revoke or suspend a license due to failure to comply with child support requirements for an insurance agent, adjuster, customer representative, service representative or managing general agent.

  • Georgia SB 365 (Act 744) states that nonpayment of child support shall be sufficient grounds for refusal or suspension of a real estate broker or salesperson’s license by a state occupational licensing body.

  • Illinois enacted a number of laws allowing the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew the license of any licensee or potential licensee who is more than 30 days behind in their child support payments. Illinois HB 4126 (P.A. 778) amends the Naturopathic Practice Act, HB 4520 (P.A. 706) amends the Professional Counselor and Clinical Professional Counselor Licensing Act, and SB 38 (P.A. 1130) amends the Funeral Directors and Embalmers Licensing Code.

  • Indiana enacted two license provisions. Indiana HB 1294 (P.L. 85) requires the Securities Division to revoke, suspend, condition, or limit the registration of a broker-dealer or investment adviser if they have failed to comply with a court ordered child support obligation. Indiana SB 257 (P.L. 125) allows for the suspension of an obligor's drivers license if he or she has unpaid child support payments. The suspension will end when the obligor pays the arrearage in full, or establishes a payment plan. It also allows obligor to be granted restricted driving privileges in lieu of suspension if they can prove that public transportation is unavailable to get to work, home, place of worship, or to visit their child.

  • Louisiana HB 1208 (Act 613) provides that at the request of an obligor who provides evidence of his ability to comply with the support order and who enters into a written agreement, they may be issued a certificate of partial compliance requesting that the license suspension be lifted or modified.

  • New York AB 10345 (Chap. 468) authorizes the support magistrates to resolve challenges to administrative suspensions of driver's licenses after the support obligors have exhausted administrative remedies through the support agency's fair hearing process.

  • Pennsylvania HB 424 (Act 2012-21) amends the Public Adjuster Licensing Law adding to the grounds for fines, suspensions or revocations of a public adjuster's [or public adjuster solicitor's] license when the licensee fails to comply with an administrative or court order imposing a child support obligation.

  • Virginia HB 872 and S 520 (similar; Chap. 734 and Chap. 735) allows the State Corporation Commission to place on probation, suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue or renew any person's public adjuster's license if they fail to comply with a child support order.

  • Vermont SB 244 (Act 2012-147) directs the court administrator, the court diversion program, and the department of motor vehicles to work cooperatively in an effort to assist Vermonters who have a suspended motor vehicle operator's license to regain their license through participation in the driving with suspended license (DLS) diversion program. The person may be eligible for a reduction in the amount of the person's financial obligation to the state or may be permitted to establish a reasonable payment plan to discharge the debt. Priority shall be given to persons determined to be at highest risk of acquiring a criminal DLS due to an accumulation of civil suspension violations. The court administrator, the director of the court diversion program, and the commissioner of motor vehicles are required to jointly report to the general assembly on or before December 15, 2014.

  • Washington HB 2443 (Chap. 183) removes the provision that states that a person who is noncompliant with child support and loses their license as a result is not eligible for an ignition interlock driver's license.

Miscellaneous Enforcement

Four states enacted legislation to deal with various enforcement issues.

  • Alaska HB 121 (Chap. 2012-58) prohibits the commercial charter fisheries loan, mariculture revolving loan or Alaskan microloan revolving loan from being made to persons who have past due child support.

  • Louisiana HB 481 (Act 87) aligns state law with federal law by stating that child support overpayments are excluded from recovery from unemployment compensation benefits.

  • Maine SB 549 (Chap. 550) repeals the law that automatically suspends child support obligations while the obligor receives public assistance. This law allows the Department of Health and Human Services to intercept, while the obligor is receiving public assistance, tax refunds, lottery winnings, and other lump sum awards to be applied to prior child support debts incurred by the obligor.

  • Tennessee HB 2744 (Chap. 894) amends current law regarding liens on compensation received by an obligor from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund to satisfy child support arrangements. The division of claims administration should periodically notify the Department of Human Services of claims that have been filed. DHS is responsible for notifying the division of a lien attaching to a claim for payment of child support arrearages.

Implementation and Program Administration

Eight states passed legislation addressing administrative and implementation concerns within their child support systems.

  • California SB 1308 (Chap. 665) adds language concerning child support delinquency and the intersection and agreements between the Franchise Tax Board and the Department of Child Support Services related to the development and implementation of the California Child Support Automation System.

  • The Illinois legislature enacted two implementation bills both dealing with the Child Support Enforcement Trust Fund. Illinois SB 2820 (P.A. 735) authorizes expenditures from the Public Assistance Emergency Revolving Fund to the Child Support Enforcement Trust Fund or the Child Support Administrative Fund for the immediate payment of fees (1) to sheriffs and other public officials authorized by law to serve process in judicial and administrative child support actions, (2) to county clerks, recorders of deeds, and other public officials and keepers of real property records in order to perfect and release real property liens, and (3) to state and local officials in connection with the processing of Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Orders. Illinois SB 2824 (P.A. 884) prohibits the State Comptroller from making deductions from payments to be disbursed from the Child Support Enforcement Trust Fund and provides that the State Comptroller shall not deduct from payments disbursed from the fund, EXCEPT for payments representing interest on child support obligations.

  • Kentucky HB 294 (Act 158) specifies that the Department for Income Support will be responsible for child support enforcement and disability determination. The bill lists the duties of the Department for Income, Child Support Enforcement.

  • Louisiana HB 227 (Act 66) provides that field officers for the Support Enforcement Services program be designated by the secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services.

  • Maryland HB 1261 and SB 894 (Chap. 613 and Chap. 612) requires that, if the Office of the Attorney General appoints specified individuals who were employees of the State's Attorney for Baltimore City who were providing services for the Child Support Enforcement Administration during a specified period, the employees shall be placed in positions in the State Personnel Management System and shall receive employment rights, service credit, specified annual or sick leave, and other rights.

  • Maine SB 624 (Chap. 634) in an effort to promote government transparency defines legislator income and explicitly states that child support payments are not considered income.

  • Minnesota enacted three implementation changes. Minnesota HF 795 and HF 2627  (similar; Chap. 204 and Chap. 253) requires the Commissioner of Human Services to initiate procedures by October 1, 2012 to enter into a reciprocal agreement with Bermuda for the establishment and enforcement of child support obligations. Minnesota SF 1675 (Chap. 216) states that after a decree of adoption is entered, the birth parents or previous legal parents of the child shall be relieved of all parental responsibilities for the child EXCEPT child support that has accrued to the date of the order for guardianship to the commissioner which continues to be due and owing.

  • Mississippi HB 1157* (Chap. 552) clarifies the method of requesting a modification of a child support order. The law also clarifies that all child support orders shall include notice to the obligated parent's employer that medical support for the child has been ordered. It also adds payment of child care expenses by the obligee under specified circumstances to the list of criteria that would be considered an unjust or inappropriate application of the guidelines.

Study Committees/ Reporting To Legislature

Five states enacted legislation to change legislative reporting requirements or study topics. Another two states and Puerto Rico passed resolutions dealing with study committee issues.

  • Arizona SB 1531 (Chap. 302) suspends the reporting requirements for the annual child support committee report for fiscal year 2012‑2013.

  • California SB 71 (Chap. 728) specifies the process by which an unmarried mother can establish paternity through voluntary declaration. The new law also states that any appropriation made available in the annual Budget Act to supplement funding for local child support agencies shall be subject to all of the following requirements: (1) Each local agency shall submit to the department an early intervention plan. (2) Funds shall be distributed to counties based on their performance on the following two federal performance measures: collections on current support and cases with collections on arrears. The local child support agency shall be required to use and ensure that 100 percent of the new funds allocated are dedicated to maintaining caseworker-staffing levels in order to stabilize child support collections. At the end of each fiscal year the department shall provide a report on the cost-effectiveness of the additional funds, including an assessment of caseload changes over time. It also includes a provision that disregards the first fifty dollars ($50) of child support received, for CalFresh, as currently provided for under the AFDC program, to the extent federal funding is available.

  • Indiana LCR 1 (Adopted) establishes that the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee is charged with studying topics including, but not limited to, child support.

  • Louisiana passed a number of resolutions during the 2012 session. Louisiana HCR 140 (Adopted) requests the State Law Institute to study the potential impact of creating a child support calculation system in cases of "dual paternity" on other areas of law. Louisiana HCR 155* (Adopted) requests the legislative auditor to examine the allocation of funds provided to the Department of Children and Family Services relative to furthering access to visitation. Louisiana HCR 156* (Adopted) urges the State Law Institute to study certain procedures for implementing visitation orders in conjunction with support orders. Louisiana HR 146* (Adopted) creates a study committee to examine and report on how to strengthen the structure of the African American family in all areas of relationships. Louisiana SCR 98 (Adopted) requests the Louisiana State Law Institute to study and make recommendations on certain aspects of child support calculations involving net child care costs.

  • Maine HB 1339 (Chap. 477) represents the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs' unanimous recommendations after reviewing the recommendations of the Streamline and Prioritize Core Government Services Task Force. It includes adjustments to appropriations and allocations by providing funding for information technology system changes necessary to collect a $2 transaction fee for each payroll deduction for child support received by the Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery.

  • Nebraska L.B. 782 requires that reports submitted to the Legislature be submitted electronically, including the report on the IV-D Agency Customer Service Unit.

  • Puerto Rico SR 2804 (Adopted) orders the Senate Committee on Government to perform a study on the implementation of the Law for the Protection of the Rights of Juveniles in Custody, in order to investigate the administrative processes related to awarding the custody. It also seeks to investigate the processes of orientation and education of members of the judiciary concerning the foundations, public politics, parameters and procedures.

  • Utah HB 37 (Chap. 019) changes the dates for the Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee to an appointment deadline of May 1, 2012, and then on or before May 1 of every fourth year subsequently; to an end date of Nov. 1, 2015, and then on or before Nov. 1 of every fourth year subsequently; and to a reporting date of Oct. 1, 2015, and then on or before Oct. 1 of every fourth year subsequently. This gives the committee 42 months to complete its statutory charge. The law also clarifies language regarding obligations for unrelated minor children in the home and makes technical corrections regarding duplicative and confusing language.

Judicial Considerations

States differ in the level of judicial involvement in child support cases; however, all states require some judicial participation. The legislation enacted this year concern many different issues related to judicial considerations, but overwhelmingly, the bills relate to procedural elements of child support cases, including the administration of grants, jurisdiction of cases, establishment of pretrial diversion programs, and filing fees for certain motions.

  • Alabama HB 100 (Act 2012-383) provides that a juvenile court has jurisdiction over proceedings for the adoption of a child when the proceedings have been transferred from probate court as provided by law; adds a provision that a juvenile court generally has jurisdiction to establish, modify, or enforce support, visitation, or custody when a juvenile court has previously established parentage; provides that a juvenile court has jurisdiction to modify child and spousal support orders. The bill also changes paternity to parentage in the statute dealing with establishment of parentage, and establishes that the court that makes the determination of parentage will retain jurisdiction over an order to modify or enforce the parentage determination. 

  • Several judicial circuits in Alabama created discretionary pretrial diversion programs. While the details of the programs may differ slightly, each program establishes provisions concerning the payment of child support by participants in the program.  Alabama HB 198 (Act 2012-360) allows the District Attorney of the Thirty-ninth Judicial Circuit to establish a discretionary pretrial diversion program and set basic operating standards for the program. Alabama HB 573 (Act 2012-364) provides for the establishment of a pretrial diversion program in the 26th Judicial Circuit in Russell County; Alabama HB 617 (Act 2012-445) allows the City of Dothan to establish a one‑time discretionary pretrial diversion program and set basic operating standards for the program. Alabama HB 656 (Act 2012-330) allows the city of Northport in Tuscaloosa County to establish a one‑time discretionary pretrial diversion program and set basic operating standards for the program.

  • California AB 1529 (Chap. 470) modifies provisions of law to reflect trial court restructuring. The bill amends the Family Code to provide that the Judicial Council is responsible for administering a program of grants to public and private agencies submitting proposals for projects related to child support orders.

  • Colorado SB 175 (Chap. 208) provides that time intervals in current statutes shall be changed to seven‑day periods or periods that are multiples of seven days to avoid actions being due on weekends.  It includes a provision that states that child support obligees, or the delegate child support unit, are not required to wait fourteen days to execute child support judgments.

  • Florida HB 7095 (Chap. 2012-100) establishes that reopen fees are not applied to motions for the enforcement of child support orders or petitions for credit of child support.

  • Idaho HB 455 (Chap. 45) provides that any dispute regarding payment of the fees and costs of a parenting coordinator in custody cases shall be subject to review by the court upon request of the parenting coordinator or either party.

  • Illinois HB 4129 (P.A. 926) adds a provision concerning the judicial registration of administrative support orders. The bill relates to voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and support payment records, including a social security number. It provides that a non-registering party seeking to contest enforcement of a registered administrative support order may request a hearing, and it provides which entities the circuit court clerk shall notify when an administrative order is registered.

  • Kansas SB 160 (Chap. 2012-131) amends the Income Withholding Act to allow a court trustee enforcing a support order to serve an income withholding order on a payor (employer) by personal service, registered mail, return receipt requested, or any alternate method accepted by the payor. 

  • Louisiana SB 506 (Act 664) states that the ability to stay discovery in a civil proceeding when there is a related pending criminal procedure  does not apply in a petition or proceeding for child support.

  • Massachusetts SB 2128 (Chap. 140-2012) adds fees of the registers of the probate and family court. The filings that require fees include an action for modification relative to child support, custody and visitation, except for those actions filed by the IV-D agency for which there is no filing fee, $50; a complaint to establish paternity or for custody-support-visitation, except for those actions filed by the IV-D agency for which there is no filing fee, $100; a complaint to modify a foreign custody or support decree pursuant to section 29 of chapter 208, except for those complaints filed by the IV-D agency for which there is no filing fee, $100.

  • New York AB 10415 (Chap. 470) amends the Family Court Act by allowing the venue in child support proceedings to be in any county in which a party resides and Family Court may transfer those proceedings upon application, in accordance with Civil Practice Laws and Rules. It relates to probation in child support, delinquency, and persons in need of supervision and family offense proceedings.

  • Ohio SB 337 (Session Law 131) adds several different provisions concerning judicial discretion. The bill allows a court to grant limited driving privileges to a person whose license was suspended because of nonpayment of child support. The bill also requires a court to consult with the child support enforcement agency upon receipt of an application to seal a record for a misdemeanor or felony charge for nonsupport to determine if the applicant has complied with the support order. Additionally, the bill prevents a court or agency from determining that a parent is voluntarily unemployed if: (1) the parent is receiving income under the disability program, means tested public aid, means tested veteran's benefits, or supplemental security income; or (2) parent is incarcerated or institutionalized for 12 months or more with no assets available, unless incarcerated for an offense where the child owed the support was the victim. However, the court may consider the parent voluntarily unemployed if these conditions exist and if such a finding is in the best interest of the child. The bill allows a court to disregard additional income from overtime or additional employment if the overtime or employment was to support a new family member or other reasonable cause.  Lastly, it requires the court to consider all support orders against a party to create a realistic payment plan.

FAMILY LAW

Family Law legislation includes bills related to child welfare, parenting time, joint physical custody, custody and visitation, relocation, deployed military parent visitation, third party visitation rights. 

Child Welfare Cases

Child welfare cases occasionally overlap with child support issues. For example, two bills enacted this year clarified instances in which a court may get involved with child support orders when the child receiving support is placed in the custody of a caretaker other than his or her parent or guardian.

  • Idaho SB 1219 (Chap. 19) removes language stating that the court must inform an obligor that any child support payments will be collected through income withholding when a juvenile or juvenile offender is placed in the custody of someone other than his or her parent or guardian, but is receiving support from that person.

  • Louisiana HB 1205 (Act 444) authorizes the court to amend an order of support to name the current caretaker as the obligee upon motion of the department or district attorney and provides procedures for such a transfer. It provides for notice to the obligor and obligee of support order before filing for an ex parte motion and order to have the caretaker recognized as the new obligee. The bill also provides for employer reporting requirements of the child support program.

Parenting Time

Parenting time bills enacted in 2012 focused on trying to create healthy and cooperative parenting plans while also considering the child’s best interests. Additionally, several bills concerned procedural requirements necessary in establishing parenting time and parenting plans. 

  • In determining custody by considering the best interests of the child, Arizona SB 1127 (Chap. 309) allows the court to consider whether either parent has made a false allegation of domestic violence against another parent in order to delay a custody hearing, prevent a parent from obtaining custody, or to increase the cost of litigation.

  • South Carolina HB 4614 (Act 259) specifies certain procedures and requirements for court ordered child custody, including joint custody and sole custody such as the requirement that parents individually or jointly prepare and submit a parenting plan, which the court must consider before issuing temporary and final custody orders, and the requirement that the court make final custody determinations in the best interest of the child based upon the evidence presented. The bill also creates the Family Court Study Committee in order to study the feasibility of tracking the outcomes of contested temporary and final custody orders. 

  • South Dakota HB 1062 (Chap. 140) clarifies the supporting documentation necessary for a request to implement the standard visitation guidelines; allows a support order as supporting documentation.

  • Tennessee SB 2620 (Chap. 897) adds the following as factors that the court must consider when determining custody: the likelihood that each parent and caregiver will honor and facilitate the court ordered parenting arrangements and any history of either parent willfully denying the other parent’s right to parenting time as ordered by a court. 

Joint Physical Custody

Several states passed bills that promote a finding of joint custody, and move away from the traditional order when preference was granted to the mother.

  • South Dakota HB 1055 (Chap. 141) allows the court to order joint physical custody when the court has awarded joint legal custody, provided joint physical custody is in the best interest of the child.

  • Utah passed two custody bills. Utah HB 88 (Chap. 269) requires the court to determine custody of a child without giving preference to the mother or father based on gender. Utah HB 107 (Chap. 271) creates a rebuttable presumption for joint custody in a divorce or separation action; provides that such presumption may be rebutted by circumstances, including domestic violence, special physical or mental needs of a parent or child, and any other factor deemed relevant by the court. It requires the person requesting joint custody to submit a parenting plan to the court.

  • Virginia HB 84 (Chap. 358) exempts cases of consent orders for custody and visitation from the requirement that a judge communicate his or her findings regarding the factors for determining what type of custody or visitation is in the best interest of the child.

Custody and Visitation

The majority of bills concerning custody and visitation passed in 2012 focused on ensuring that those persons granted custody and visitation are responsible and that such contact with the child is in the best interest of the child.  Several bills also prescribe penalties for failing to comply with custody and visitation orders.      

  • California passed three bills related to custody and visitation: one related to custodial parents who are arrested, another concerning a parent’s use of controlled substances as a factor in determining custody and a final bill that addresses use of prescribed control substances related to fitness to have custody. California AB 2015 (Chap. 816) requires the arresting or booking officer to ask if the arrested person is a custodial parent with responsibility for a minor child as soon as practicable upon arrest and, except where physically impossible, not later than a specified period after arrest. It requires signs to be posted in English and non‑English languages informing the custodial parent of the right to additional telephone calls. It also provides for the enforcement of these provisions regardless of the arrestee's immigration status. California AB 2365 (Chap. 258) requires a family court to consider, in determining the best interest of the child in custody proceedings, either parent's documented use of prescribed controlled substances. It requires the repeal of a section of existing law that authorizes a court to require any person who is seeking custody of, or visitation with, a child who is the subject of a related proceeding, to undergo testing for the illegal use of controlled substances and the use of alcohol under specified circumstances. California AB 1337 (Chap. 155) creates a procedure to establish parentage when one parent has died. When one parent has died, and there is no other existing established parent-child relationship or pending custody or support orders, the person who is seeking to establish parentage must provide notice to any individuals with physical custody of the child and the child’s relatives within the second degree. Notice given to anyone with physical custody must be filed with the court before any parentage hearing.

  • Illinois SB 3823 (P.A. 1047) provides that the Secretary of State shall suspend, pursuant to court order, the driver's license of a person who fails to comply with a visitation order. This bill allows the court to order such suspension; provides that the court, upon holding a party in contempt for violation of a visitation order and finding that the party engaged in visitation abuse, may find that the party is guilty of a petty offense and impose a specified fine.

  • North Carolina HB 494 (Chap. 2012-146) allows the use of continuous alcohol monitoring systems to ensure compliance with child custody and visitation orders; provides that fees shall be paid to the monitoring provider.

  • Utah HB 232 (Chap. 049) eliminates a responsibility of the Division of Child and Family Services to conduct court ordered evaluations in custody proceedings.

  • Vermont HB 88 (Act 29) revises the law on child custody jurisdiction to ensure compliance with federal enactments and case law. The bill provides standards for when a court has jurisdiction over a custody case and explains what type of jurisdiction the court may exercise. The bill also sets out procedural standards such as notice and forum requirements

Relocation

In order to ensure that custody and visitation orders are in the best interest of the child, states are able to set procedures related to the relocation of any dependent child. The bills enacted this year deal with procedural elements regarding who may bring relocation orders, and when they must be brought before the court.

  • California AB 2209 (Chap. 144) prohibits the placement of any dependent child with any person, who is not a parent, outside the United States prior to a judicial finding that the placement, by clear and convincing evidence, is in the best interest of the child, except as required by federal law or treaty. It requires the party or agency requesting the out of country placement of a child to carry the burden of proof and specifies factors to be considered when determining the best interests of the dependent child.

  • Louisiana SB 153 (Act 627) amends the language concerning the relocation of a child, lists the circumstances in which the relocation statute will apply, and establishes the procedures for bringing a relocation order.  The bill establishes who may bring a relocation request and the procedures by which a person may object to the relocation. This bill also provides the court with the authority to order persons awarded custody or visitation to use technology to facilitate communication with the child when it is in the best interest of the child.

  • Utah HB 448 (Chap. 227) requires the court to hold a hearing if a motion is filed by a noncustodial parent when the custodial parent plans to relocate more than 150 miles from the noncustodial parent.  The court must determine if the move is in the best interests of the child. This bill also authorizes the modification of the custody arrangements if the court determines the move is not in the best interest of the child.

Deployed Military Parent Visitation

Ten states and the District of Columbia either amended or enacted laws specifically dealing with custody and visitation orders for deployed military parents. The bills all create expedited processes by which temporary custody and visitation orders can be created or modified in order to ensure the least disruption to the parent-child relationship when one parent is an active service member. Several states also created an opportunity for deployed parents to transfer their visitation rights to a third person for the duration of the deployment. 

  • After a deployed parent returns from deployment, California AB 1807  (Chap. 116) stipulates that the court is prohibited from ordering a child custody evaluation as part of its review of a temporary order unless the party opposing reversion to the prior custody order makes a prima facie showing that reversion is not in the best interest of the child. The bill prohibits the use of a parent's deployment as a basis for asserting that the state court is an inconvenient forum. Additionally, the bill specifies that child custody cases should be expedited for deployed military parents.

  • Connecticut HB 5395*  (P.A. 12-90) concerns custody orders for deployed members of the armed forces. Prohibits a court from entering a final custody order, or modifying a final custody order involving a deployed parent, until 90 days after the end of deployment unless the deployed parent consents to such modification. The bill allows the court to modify a custody order when a parent is going to be deployed if the deployment will have a material effect on the parent’s ability to exercise his or her parental rights, and if such modification is in the best interest of the child. The bill states that the non-deployed parent has the burden of showing that the custody order that was in place before deployment is no longer in the best interest of the child. Absent such a showing, the custody order will revert. The bill also establishes procedures for filing modification orders.  

  • District of Columbia B 332* (Chap. 110) grants deploying military parents certain child custody and visitation rights during periods of actual or imminent deployment. The bill allows a deploying parent to file a temporary modification of a child custody or visitation order when a parent is on deployment, or has been issued deployment orders. It prohibits a court from issuing a permanent order modifying a custody or visitation agreement until 90 days after the end of deployment.  

  • Illinois HB 1589* (P.A. 659) allows custody and visitation hearings to be expedited when one parent is deployed or has received deployment orders. It requires the court to allow the deployed parent to testify at such a hearing via telephone, audiovisual, or other electronic means if he or she is unable to be present due to deployment. The bill also allows a parent who is deployed, or who has orders to deploy, to designate a person to have substitute visitation rights. The child must know the designated third person; the designated person must be evaluated by the court; and the court must determine that such substitute visitation is in the best interest of the child. The bill also allows the court to provide for temporary modification of custody or visitation orders during the period of a parent’s deployment.  

  • Indiana HB 1065* (P.L. 55) requires a court, upon motion by a parent who has received military temporary duty, deployment, or mobilization orders to: (1) hold an expedited hearing to determine or modify custody or parenting time; and (2) allow, with reasonable notice, a parent to present testimony and evidence by certain electronic means in a custody or parenting time proceeding; if the military duties of a parent have a material effect on the parent's ability to appear in person at a regularly scheduled hearing concerning custody or parenting time. The bill allows a court, upon motion by a parent who has received military deployment orders, to delegate the parent's parenting time, or a part of the parent's parenting time, during the time of the deployment, to a person who has a close and substantial relationship with the parent's child, if the court determines delegating the time is in the best interests of the child. It also provides that an order delegating parenting time automatically terminates after the parent returns from deployment. Additionally, it allows the court to terminate an order delegating parenting time if the court determines that the delegated parenting time is no longer in the best interests of the child.

  • New Hampshire HB 1419* (Chap. 2012-213) establishes the Military Parents’ Rights Act, creating certain rights for military parents regarding custody and visitation agreements.  This act allows a court to enter a temporary modification order when a parent has received deployment orders.  The act prohibits the court from entering a final modification order until 90 days after the end of a parent’s deployment, unless the deployed parent has agreed to the modification.  The deploying parent may designate a third person to have substitute visitation rights, if the court finds that such designation is in the best interest of the child.  The act also establishes procedural requirements for issuing modifications based on a parent’s deployment. 

  • New Jersey S 1051* concerns child custody and parenting time arrangements related to certain military service absences. The bill provides that the court, when making a determination concerning child custody or parenting time, shall not consider the absence or potential absence of a military service member by reason of deployment or service-related treatment as a factor in determining the best interest of a child for whom the service member is a parent or caretaker.

  • Pennsylvania SB 1167* (Act 2012-32) allows a service-member parent with orders to deploy to petition the court for an order to designate a third person to have temporary substitute visitation rights.  The court may grant such an order if it finds that it is in the best interest of the child.  

  • Rhode Island passed two bills related to deployed military parents. Both bills concern procedural elements related to custody and visitation orders for active service member parents.  Rhode Island HB 7274* (P.L. 2012-231): Establishes procedures concerning custody and visitation orders for active service member parents with orders for temporary military duty, deployment, or mobilization. The bill allows the court to create a temporary custody or visitation order when one parent has been given orders for military duty, deployment or mobilization. The active service-member parent may delegate any or all of his or her parental rights to a third party during the term of duty, deployment or mobilization if the court determines that it is in the best interest of the child. It allows the court to expedite the hearings for such temporary orders. The bill prohibits the court from entering a final order modifying a custody or visitation order until 90 days after the end of military duty, deployment or mobilization. Additionally, Rhode Island SB 2521* (P.L. 2012-218): Provides that if there is no existing court order establishing parental rights and it appears military deployment is imminent, then the court will expedite a hearing to establish such parental rights to ensure the deploying parent has access to the child.

  • South Dakota HB 1046* (Chap. 174) revises certain provisions regarding child custody during a military service-member's deployment, if the service-member is the physical custodian or guardian; provides that neither the execution of a power of attorney, nor the deployment itself, may be considered a factor in considering a substantial and material change of circumstances, nor a factor in a best interest of the child determination for purposes of permanent child custody modification proceedings.

  • Tennessee SB 2844 (Chap. 770) replaces “active duty military service” with “active duty in the Armed Forces” in the context of modification of custody and visitation orders for service-member parents.  The bill also defines Armed Forces as: the national guard and the reserve components of the armed forces, the United States army, the United States navy, the United States marine corps, the United States coast guard, and the United State air force, and any other branch of the military and naval forces or auxiliaries of the United States or this state.

Third Party Visitation Rights

In acknowledgement of the changing nature of families, many states expanded their legislation concerning third party visitation rights.  Many of the bills specifically address grandparent and sibling visitation. These bills aim to ensure that when people are granted visitation rights, it is in the best interest of the child.

  • Connecticut HB 5440 (P.A. 12-137) expands the third-party visitation statute. This bill allows any person to petition the court for visitation with a minor child if they are able to establish a parent-like relationship with the child. In determining whether a parent-like relationship exists, the court may consider the following factors: the existence and length of the relationship; the length of time that the relationship between the person and child has been disrupted; any specific parent-like activities of the person seeking visitation; any evidence that the person seeking visitation has tried to undermine the authority and discretion of the custodial parent; the significant absence of the child’s custodial parent; the death of one of the child’s parents; the physical separation of the minor’s parents; the fitness of the person seeking visitation; and the fitness of the custodial parents. When determining whether a parent-like relationship exists between a child and a grandparent, the court may consider the factors listed above as well as the history of regular contact and proof of a close and substantial relationship between the grandparent and the child. The bill allows the court to set the terms of third-party visitation. 

  • Georgia HB 1198 (Act 702) adds factors that a court may consider in determining whether the health or welfare of a child would be hurt if grandparent visitation were not granted. It creates a rebuttable presumption that denying a child contact with his or her grandparents may result in emotional distress. The bill allows a grandparent to seek visitation when a parent is deceased, incapacitated, or incarcerated. Regardless of whether or not visitation is ordered, the court may require a custodial parent to notify the grandparents of specified performances of the minor child to which the public is admitted. 

  • Louisiana SB 261(Act 763) allows the court to order grandparent visitation if it would be in the best interest of the child.  It allows the court to grant visitation rights to any relative of the child under extraordinary circumstances, which include a determination by the court that the parent of the child is abusing a controlled dangerous substance.

  • Puerto Rico HB 3202 (Session Law 32-2012) amends the Civil Code for the purpose of recognizing a legal justification for those who go to court for a hearing regarding visitation rights in respect to their nieces or nephews after the the death of a parent or guardian, or by divorce, or annulment of marriage or separation; empowers the court to make orders necessary to enforce those rights provided that it is in the best interest of the child.

  • Rhode Island passed legislation related to grandparent and sibling visitation. Both bills are designed to expedite visitation. Rhode Island HB 7500 (P.L. 2012-190) reduces the waiting requirement for a grandparent or sibling to file a petition for visitation from 90 days to 30 days, and Rhode Island SB 2153 (P.L. 2012-200) eliminates the requirement that a grandparent or sibling must have attempted to visit the child, and was denied visitation, within a certain specified time preceding the filing of a motion for visitation.

CHILD SUPPORT PREVENTION

States can prevent the need for child support services by promoting responsible childbearing and parenting choices and by raising awareness (especially among teenagers) of the financial, legal, and emotional responsibilities of having children outside of marriage. Only one state addressed the prevention of child support.

  • Tennessee SB 3257* (Chap. 861) requires the Department of Human Services and juvenile court or district attorney general to undertake a pilot project public awareness campaign in counties implementing a responsible teen parent pilot project to include child support. Specifically, the pilot program shall inform teens that teen parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children that continues for 18 years following the birth of a child, exists regardless of a teen parent's gender or marital status, and will be enforced and the means with which the department may enforce the obligation.

FAMILY VIOLENCE COLLABORATION

Some family relationships involve violence or abuse. Family-centered child support enforcement strategies must not put parents and children at greater risk of violence. The child support enforcement program works to prevent family violence by screening, providing safe opportunities to disclose family violence, and discussing the need to prevent it. Six states passed legislation to address family violence. Those states focused on protecting identifying information and waiving requirements to protect custodial parents and their children.

  • California addressed two pieces of family violence legislation. For the purpose of addressing confidentiality, California AB 2483 (Chap. 102) removes the requirement for specific attached evidence for an application alleging the basis of stalking and instead makes the inclusion of that evidence permissive. It requires the alleged stalking application to state whether there are any existing court orders concerning child support. The application shall be completed in person at a community-based victims’ assistance program and includes a requirement that the applicant shall meet with a victims’ assistance counselor and receive orientation information about the program. The Secretary of State shall approve an application if it is filed in the manner and on the form prescribed by the Secretary of State and if it contains a statement of whether there are any existing court orders involving the applicant for child support, child custody, or child visitation, and whether there are any active court actions involving the applicant for child support, child custody, or child visitation, the name and address of legal counsel of record, and the last known address of the other parent or parents involved in those court orders or court actions. An adult person, a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor, or a guardian acting on behalf of an incapacitated person may apply to the Secretary of State to have an address designated by the Secretary of State serve as the address of the person, the minor or incapacitated person. California SB 1009 (Chap. 34) creates a task force composed of district attorney domestic violence units, county departments of social services, the county welfare directors associate, statewide domestic violence groups, local domestic violence prevention advocates, the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Public Health and the California Emergency Management Agency, among others. The task force will create protocols including specifying how counties should waive any welfare program requirements that would make it more difficult for an individual or their child to escape abuse. Specifically, counties may waive paternity establishment and child support cooperation requirements.

  • North Carolina HB 589 (Chap. 2012-20) amends the laws relating to the continuance of domestic violence protective orders. A continuance shall be limited to one extension of no more than 10 days unless all parties consent or good cause is shown. The hearing shall have priority on the court calendar. It also provides for the continuance of child support when a child is enrolled in a cooperative innovative high school program and provides for termination upon completion of the fourth year of enrollment or when the reaches 18, whichever occurs later.

  • Virginia SB 445 (Chap. 261) allows a circuit court jurisdiction to hear petitions to modify, dissolve, or extend a permanent protective order if the circuit court issued the order. The law requires the court, when a protective order is issued, to enter and transfer identifying information into the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN). Effective July 1, 2013, any circuit court clerk who does not use the Statewide Case Management System operated and maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court shall provide protective orders directly to the VCIN. 

Custody in Cases of Rape

Three states enacted legislation to address custody disagreements when a child is conceived in cases of rape.

  • Illinois HB 3005 (P.A. 568) amends Juvenile Court Act by providing that the term parent does not apply to a person that has been convicted of, pled guilty or nolo contendre to criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, criminal sexual abuse, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, sexual relations within families, and criminal sexual abuse in which a child was conceived. It states that the juvenile court may deem the offender to be a parent if someone other than the offender makes a request and that the offender is not entitled to custody or visitation without the consent of the mother or guardian and that the father shall not be relieved of any support or maintenance obligations.

  • Indiana SB 190 (P. L. 156) urges legislative council to assign to the Indiana Child Custody and Support Advisory Committee to study the termination of parental rights for an individual with a child who was conceived because of a rape perpetrated by that individual. The committee shall issue a report to the legislative council containing the committee's findings and recommendations, including any recommended legislation concerning the topic, no later than November 1, 2012.

  • Tennessee HB 2847 (Chap. 1042) creates a new ground for initiating the termination of parental or guardianship rights. A child's parent shall have the standing to file a petition to terminate the rights of a person alleged to be a parent or guardian of a child if the parent has been found to commit severe sexual abuse under any prior order of a criminal court. It specifies the offenses included aggravated rape, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, incest, rape, and rape of a child. The law requires the court to notify the petitioning parent that the duty of future child support by the parent who is subject to termination will be forever terminated.

HEALTHY FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

When parents live apart, healthy relationships between the custodial and noncustodial parent and between each parent and child are important for child well-being and stable child support payments. One state and Puerto Rico addressed promoting health family relationships.

  • Pennsylvania HR 582 (Adopted) designates the month of April 2012 as "Parental Alienation Awareness Month" stating that parental alienation is the psychological term used to denote the process used by a parent to alienate a child from the other parent by encouraging the child to dislike that parent. It states that this process is most often used in the course of the parents' divorcing that it has been known to lead to child kidnapping, murder and suicide. The resolution suggests that awareness of parental alienation and its negative consequences will help to lessen its occurrence.

  • Puerto Rico SB 1961 (Session Law Number 264-2012) establishes the Virtual Tours Act in order to provide guidance on electronic communication between a noncustodial parent and their sons or daughters.

ECONOMIC STABILITY

Child support payments are more reliable when a noncustodial parent is employed and has a stable income. Child support payments increase when states help noncustodial parents find and keep employment and when they connect custodial and noncustodial parents to resources that help them achieve and maintain economic stability. Two states addressed relief from child support payments where obligors are not able to pay. Two states are requiring individuals to participate in child support programs in order to receive child care assistance. California, in an effort to manage their state budget, is suspending a number of county pass-throughs.

  • California SB 1041 (Chap. 47), for the 2012–13 fiscal year only, would authorize money in the Child Support Payment Trust Fund to be invested in specified securities or alternatives that offer comparable security, including mutual funds and money market funds. The bill would not authorize an investment or transfer that would interfere with the objective of the Child Support Payment Trust Fund. It extends the suspension of the county’s recovery of repaid CalWorks program funds by means of child support collections for the 2012–13 fiscal year, thus allowing the state to retain those funds. This bill also extends the suspension of the additional 5 percent payments that the 10 counties with the best performance standards would receive that are used to reduce or repay aid that is paid under the CalWORKs program through the 2014–15 fiscal year. Finally, this bill extends the suspension of the payments to the local child support agency of $50 per case for obtaining third-party health coverage or insurance of Medi-Cal beneficiaries through the 2014–15 fiscal year.

  • Tennessee SB 2224 (Chap. 912) allows caretaker relatives who are ineligible for TANF to be eligible for transitional child care assistance, unless the TANF ineligibility is due to failure to comply with work requirements or failure to cooperate with child support obligations.

  • Vermont SB 203 (Act 2012-119) amends the calculation of income in determining child support. It permits the court to order an obligor to participate in employment, educational, or training related activities if participation in such activities would assist in providing support for a child or in addressing the causes of the default. A court may order payment of all or a portion of the unpaid financial obligation as a purge condition; if the court finds that the person has the present ability to pay the amount ordered and sets a date certain for payment. The law addresses the fact that receipt of means-tested public assistance benefits or incarceration for more than 90 days shall be considered a real, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances that permits the court to consider a modification of an existing child support order. It also permits referral of child support contemnors to reparative boards.

  • Washington passed two similar laws dealing with subsidized child care and participation in the IV-D program. Washington SB 6386 (Chap. 253) removes the statutory provision requiring applicants and recipients of subsidized child care to seek child support enforcement services as a condition of receiving subsidized child care. Washington HB 2828 c (1st Special Session Chap. 4) removes the requirement that the Department of Social and Health Services or the Department of Early Learning take appropriate action to establish or enforce support obligations whenever it receives an application for subsidized child care services or working connections child care services.

  • West Virginia HB 4521* (Act 24) permits that upon release from the custody of the Division of Corrections or the United States Bureau of Prisons, a person who is gainfully employed and is subject to a child support obligation(s) and from whose weekly disposable earnings an amount in excess of forty percent is being withheld for the child support obligation or obligations may, within eighteen months of his or her release, petition the court having jurisdiction over the case or cases to restructure the payments to an amount that allows the person to pay his or her necessary living expenses. In order to achieve consistency and fairness, one judge may assume jurisdiction over all the cases the person may have within that circuit of the court. In apportioning the available funds, the court shall give priority to the person’s current child support obligations if a minimum of $50 per month shall be paid in each case.

FATHER ENGAGEMENT FROM BIRTH

Engaging fathers from the birth of their children reduces the likelihood that they stay in contact with their children and accrue unmanageable child support debts. Involving low-income father in their children’s lives can also lead to more child support collections. Three states adopted resolutions to recognize fathers and their importance to their children’s lives.

  • New Mexico adopted resolutions New Mexico HM 62 and SM 56 in both chambers to recognize that fathers matter to kids, kids matter to fathers and families and communities are better off when fathers and children are positively engaged in each other’s lives. It also declares august 10, 2010 "New Mexico Fathers and Families Day" in the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively.

  • Pennsylvania HR 333 (Adopted) recognizes the significance of fathers and "Father's Day" stating that fathers and mothers are of equal importance in all areas of parenting and in every aspect of the development of children, and it is paramount that all government interaction with families, parents and children, primarily, does promote the right of access of fathers and mothers equally to their children. It states that the Constitution of Pennsylvania, guarantees to women and men, mothers and fathers, equal rights and equal obligations with regard to parenting and other issues involving domestic relations, custody and support. It urges men to understand the level of responsibility fathering a child requires, especially in the encouragement of the mental, moral, social, academic, emotional, physical and spiritual development of children. It also encourages active involvement of fathers in the rearing and development of their children, including the devotion of time, energy and resources, is strongly encouraged.

  • South Carolina HR 4374 (Adopted) recognizes and commends the efforts of the Spartanburg Housing Authority because they create an atmosphere in public housing in which fathers can gain development and sustainable life skills while participating in an array of cultural, educational, recreational, and social events that foster engagement between fathers and their children.

OTHER

  • California ACR 21 (Resolution Chap. 127) proclaims the month of August 2012 as Child Support Awareness Month. It encourages all state residents to recognize the importance of child support to the happiness and security of California children.

  • Florida passed two bills to protect public employees. Florida HB 629 (Chap. 2012-149) revises the public record exemptions for identification and location information of certain public employees and their spouses and children. It expands the public record exemptions for such public employees to include the dates of birth of the public employees and of their spouses and children. It specifies that the exemption for justices, judges, and their spouses and children apply to current and former justices and judges. It also specifies that the exemption for active or former law enforcement personnel and their spouses and children apply to such personnel who are sworn or civilian law enforcement personnel. These exemptions include people who work in child support enforcement. Florida HB 1089 (Chap. 2012-214) creates a public record exemption for identification and location information of county tax collectors and current or former investigators or inspectors of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and their spouses and children. The bill expands the public record exemptions for such public employees to include county tax collectors and current or former investigators or inspectors of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and their spouses and children.

  • Nebraska L.B. 1113 (Adopted) adopted the state Uniform Power of Attorney Act authorizing a person with the power of attorney authority, with respect to personal and family maintenance, to make periodic child support and other family maintenance payments.

  • New Hampshire HB 1325 (Chap. 2012-257) revises the legal residency requirements for purposes of school attendance for children of divorced parents stating that children of divorced parents may attend school in the school district in which either parent resides. It requires that the parents agree in writing to the district the child will attend and each parent furnishes a copy of the agreement to the school district in which the parent resides.

Overpaid Child Support

  • Ohio SB 342 (Session Law 147) allows the child support agency to withhold the amount of child support due to a survivor or beneficiary of the state teacher retiree who was subject to the child support order if the retiree had overpaid child support.

  • Tennessee SB 2911 (Chap. 928) requires that, if a court wrongly grants a default decision imposing an obligation for child support from or against an eligible individual protected under the federal Service members Civil Relief Act, the court must issue an order to the individual receiving funds that the funds be returned and reimbursed.

VETOED LEGISLATION

A few states passed legislation during the 2012 session only to have the bills vetoed by the governor. The following is a list of vetoed legislation that will not go into effect.

  • California AB 832 (Vetoed) would have established the State Children's Coordinating Council to serve as an advisory body responsible to the children and youth of the state. The law provided the makeup of the council membership. It would have required the council to provide recommendations to the Governor and Legislature every odd numbered year.

  • California SB 1476 (Vetoed) authorizes a court to find that a child has two presumed parents notwithstanding the statutory presumption of parentage of the child by another name. The bill provides that a child may have a parent and child relationship with more than two parents. It requires the court to allocate parental custody and visitation based on the best interests of the child and directs consideration of the income of each parent and the time spent with the child by each parent unless application of the guideline would be unjust and inappropriate.

  • California SB 1258 (Vetoed) requires the Director of Employment Development to permit the use of any information in his or her possession to the extent necessary to enable federal, state, or local governmental departments or agencies to administer child support enforcement programs and may require reimbursement for all direct costs incurred in providing any and all information specified under the Unemployment Insurance Code.

  • Puerto Rico SB 888 (Pocket vetoed by governor) would have provided an additional penalty to be used in special and meritorious cases of an electronic monitoring device to enforce parental maintenance.

*PLEASE NOTE: The National Conference of State Legislatures is an organization serving state legislators and their staff. We cannot offer legal advice or assistance with individual cases, but we do try to answer questions on general topics.

About This NCSL Project

NCSL staff in D.C. and Denver can provide comprehensive, thorough, and timely information on critical child support policy issues. We provide services to legislators and staff working to improve state policies affecting children and their families. NCSL's online clearinghouse for state legislators includes resources on child support policy, financing, laws, research and promising practices.  Technical assistance visits to states are available to any state legislature that would like training or assistance related to this topic.   

The Denver-based child support project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience. Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or cyf-info@ncsl.org.

NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child support issues before Congress and the Administration. In D.C., Joy Johnson Wilson (joy.wilson@ncsl.org) and Rachel Morgan (rachel.morgan@ncsl.org) can be reached at (202) 624-5400.

The child support project and D.C. human services staff receive guidance and support from NCSL's Standing Committee on Health & Human Services.

 

Share this: 
NCSL Summit Resources
We are the nation's most respected bipartisan organization providing states support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill.

NCSL Member Toolbox

Denver

7700 East First Place
Denver, CO 80230
Tel: 303-364-7700 | Fax: 303-364-7800

Washington

444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202-624-5400 | Fax: 202-737-1069

Copyright 2014 by National Conference of State Legislatures