Sunday, April 30, 2006
Case Law Development: No Credits Against Child Support Arrearages for Social Security Retirement Benefits Paid to Children
The Court of Appeals of Hawai'i provides a thorough review of caselaw from across the United States regarding credits toward child support for social security dependent payments. The court reversed a trial court that had applied the social security retirement beneficiary payments paid to Father's childrens as a credit against Father's child support arrearages that had accrued before his retirement.
The court noted the majority of jurisdictions that hold that an obligor's social security disability and retirement benefits paid to dependents both may be credited against contemporaneous child support obligations. (See Family Law Prof blog postings of January 8 and November 18). The question in this case, however, was whether those payments could be used to satisfy arrearages. Reviewing decisions of other states on this question, the court agreed with the majority approach and declined to allow a credit to be applied to arrearages. The court noted that "the Social Security disability payments belong to the children. To allow any part of that money to be credited towards the obligor's arrearage which was due prior to his or her date of disability would be, in essence, requiring the children to purge the obligor of contempt."
Clark v. Clark, 2006 Haw. App. LEXIS 156 (April 19, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited April 29, 2006 bgf)