Friday, July 27, 2018
From The New Jersey Law Journal:
Unfortunately, the rate of divorce is exceptionally high—80-90 percent—among families of children with special needs. It is critical that family law practitioners understand the unique issues that arise in these cases. While all divorces are emotional and fraught with concerns about both short and long-term issues, divorce proceedings for parents of a child with special needs must be viewed through the lens of the long-term realities of disability. This is particularly true for children with complex or severe disabilities, who will require lifetime supports and services. Unlike “typical” kids, these children will never outgrow their need for assistance with basic decision-making, activities of daily living, self-care, etc. However, even children with mild disabilities may require specialized planning during a divorce due to their unique needs.
When a child is a minor, and custody or parenting time is at issue in a divorce, any special needs the child has must be considered when making final decisions. Children with autism or sensory processing issues, for example, may have a more difficult time transitioning between homes regularly. One home—or parent—may be better equipped to safely manage a child’s disability-related needs due to knowledge, work scheduling issues, other individuals in the home, etc. As with all custody discussions, the “best interests of the child” should prevail. Similarly, in terms of child support, additional expenses may need to be built in beyond the mandated guidelines to account for necessary therapies, private tutoring or education, specialized medications, items not covered by insurance, etc.
Read more here.
Friday, October 14, 2016
From The Huffington Post:
- How is it determined? Child support in California is based on a statewide guideline. The formula by which it is determined is rather complex. As a result, it is usually calculated by attorneys using one of a few computer programs licensed by companies that provide legal research software. The calculation is based upon the number of children, the income of each of the parents, the timeshare that each parent has custody, their tax filing status, and their tax-deductible expenses;
- Is there a dollar limit on the amount of support that one can be ordered to pay? Unlike some states, California does not provide for a cap in the amount of support to be ordered. The guideline calculation is the presumptively legal calculation in most cases. There are some very limited instances when the court can deviate from this, discussed below.
- What happens if the calculation generates an amount that is clearly higher than what is necessary to raise a child? The guideline calculation may or may not generate such a result. What is necessary to raise a child varies on a case-by-case basis. The law provides that a child is entitled to have a lifestyle commensurate with that of his or her parents. For this reason, a child support calculation that improves the lifestyle of the lower income parent is often upheld by the court. In those instances when the child support amount is so excessive that it bears no reasonable relationship to either the lifestyle of the parents or the amount of support required to raise a child commensurate with that lifestyle, the court may deviate from the guideline.
Read the answers and more here.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
From Jeanne M. Hannah writing for Updates in Family Law:
Melissa Kucinski, an American Bar Association colleague who practices in Washington, D.C., advises today that on this day, August 30, 2016, President Obama signed the instrument of ratification for the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
The official statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on The Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance may be read at this link. While the United States has child support enforcement well in hand, the same has not been true in other countries. This Convention is intended to remedy non-support cases where the payer of support resides in a foreign country and fails to provide court-ordered child support. The Convention's purpose is to assist custodial parents in enforcement proceedings in their state courts for collection of financial support due from parents residing outside of the United States.
Read more here.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
From the Denver Post:
Under Colorado House Bill 1227, teenagers and victims of domestic violence will have one less barrier to applying for assistance for day care. The current law requires anyone requesting for assistance to pay for childcare to apply for child support within 30 days of the application. The new law exempts teenagers and victims of domestic violence from child support enforcement requirements.
Read more here.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A stepfather who sought legal and physical custody of his ex-wife's children can be liable for child support, the state Supreme Court has ruled.
The Supreme Court ruled on a 3-1 vote last week in A.S. v. I.S. that when a stepparent takes aggressive legal steps toward assuming the same parental rights as the child's biological parent, the stepparent assumes parental obligations.
Justice Max Baer, who wrote the majority's opinion, said a parent's in loco parentis status — meaning he or she assumed parental obligations without going through legal adoption — doesn't create a child support obligation.
“Here, we have a stepfather who hauled a fit parent into court, repeatedly litigating to achieve the same legal and physical custodial rights as would naturally accrue to a biological parent,” Justice Baer said, adding “this is not the ‘typical case’ of a stepparent” who wants a post-separation relationship with the children.
The decision reversed both the trial court's ruling that the stepfather should not owe child support and the Superior Court's affirming decision.
Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor issued a dissenting opinion arguing there was an insufficient record in the case because the trial court dismissed the mother's complaint for child support at the pleadings stage.
Read more here.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
It’s probably one of the most bizarre Craigslist transaction, involving a lesbian couple desperate for a sperm donor, and a Topeka man willing to help.
Little did he know that act of kindness would lead to a lengthy child support battle that continues to this day. Recently this controversial case led to a court ordered DNA test that revealed he is a father, “I’m the sperm donor, I’m not the father,” William Marotta said.
If Marotta had a nickel for every time he’s said that in the past three years, he’d have enough money to pay off the amount the state of Kansas wants in back child support, “Cause it would be really easy for me to just pay off the money and be done,” Marotta said. “But that’s not the point, shouldn’t have been done in the first place, it’s wrong.”
The person he believes is responsible for the wrongdoing, Governor Sam Brownback, “I believe he’s sat down with a group of his people and said ‘okay,this is what I want to do, how do we accomplish that.’”
This all started when Marotta donated his sperm to the lesbian couple in 2009 after seeing their post on craigslist. Marotta accepted to help the couple, and later that year the couple had a little girl, “Angie and Jennifer are the parents,” Marotta said.
However the state of Kansas won’t accept that. Despite the fact that the lesbian couple and Marotta signed a contract giving up all parental rights to the child.
Read more here.
Friday, June 26, 2015
From Florida Times-Union:
Under a new law, the Department of Human Services will now be able to conduct DNA tests for all child support cases in which paternity is unresolved.
DHS met on Wednesday in Atlanta to discuss changing its internal rules to fit HB568 that will go into effect July 1.
Under the new law, any man that is proven not to be the biological father will not have to pay child support. The bill was intended to end wrongful paternity claims prior to legal action.
Read more here.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
From Deseret News:
The public views court-ordered formulas calculating child support in the United States and England to be unfair, according to a study released Monday that researchers hope will be valuable information for policymakers dealing with family law issues.
Although child support laws in the two nations differ, the study, published by the Child and Family Blog, found that respondents from the U.S. and England have similar personal views on what is fair in calculating child support paid by noncustodial parents.
The research ultimately found that the public believes child support should be adjusted higher or lower based on the mother's income (assuming she is the custodial parent caring for the children). In some states, child support is based solely on the noncustodial parent's income, while in others both incomes are used in the calculation with an emphasis on the noncustodial parent's income. Each state has a set formula for judges to use in child support cases.
Read more here.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
From Star Tribune:
MADISON, Wis. — A state appeals court says a woman who separated from her same-sex partner doesn't have to pay child support, and still has visitation rights with her partner's biological child whom they raised together.
Read more here.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
From Bloomberg Family Law Reporter:
While it is within a trial court's discretion to order child support when parents share physical custody of their child, such an award may not be used to equalize their incomes, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Aug. 15. Explaining that income equalization is inconsistent with principles underlying support orders, the court also noted that the trial judge below did not find that the subject child's reasonable needs were not being met in the absence of such an order, where both parents enjoyed comparable standards of living and had incomes exceeding the levels to which the support guidelines presumptively applied (M.C. v. T.K., Mass., No. 10910, 8/15/12).
Read more here.
Hat Tip: Naomi Cahn
Sunday, October 3, 2010
The story of one Michigan man's serious child support issues:
The Muskegon man has fathered 23 children with 14 women, and is more than $533,000 in arrears in his child-support payments, according to the attorney general's office, which has been pushing a case against Veal -- tied to two of those children -- in Kent County Circuit Court.
On Thursday, Judge Dennis Leiber sentenced Veal, 44, to two to four years in prison for failure to pay child support, a felony. With this sentence, the judge far exceeded the state guidelines, which called for Veal to get no more than six months in the county jail.
"You are the poster child for irresponsibility," Leiber told Veal, who appeared surprised by the sentence. "You're an insult to every responsible father who sacrifices to provide for their children."
Read more here.
Friday, September 10, 2010
News report on changes to MO law that make it easier for fathers to challenge child support orders based on paternity:
It didn’t take long for Michael W. to confirm that the 2½-year-old girl for whom he was paying child support wasn’t really his biological daughter.
He just had a DNA test done one weekend when she was with him for visitation.
But it has taken three years since then for Michael, 35, to finally make his case to a judge that he should not have to keep making those payments.
Until a new law went into effect last year, Michael and other men like him were stuck. Even if they had DNA evidence proving that they were not the biological fathers, they still were obligated to make child support payments until the child turned 18.
But Michael and thousands of other such Missouri men now have the opportunity to legally answer the paternity question and, perhaps, get out from under payments that they think are unfair.
The new law allows men broader opportunities to petition courts to order DNA testing and then set aside paternity judgments and child support obligations.
Under the new law, any man paying child support can file a challenge to the paternity question until Dec. 31, 2011. After that, men will have two years to file such lawsuits after judgments of paternity or support have been entered.
The old law permitted such challenges for only a year. Previously, the presumed father had to prove fraud — that is, that the woman had lied to him about being the father.
The Missouri General Assembly moved to change the law after an appeals court ruled in January 2009 that despite Michael’s proof that he was not the father, state law offered no help.
“He is certainly correct that scientific advancements in the determination of parentage raise new issues not previously addressed,” the appeals court wrote. “This court, however, is not the legislature. Whether our statutes are inadequate in light of scientific advancements to provide appropriate relief to these types of cases is a question better suited for the legislature.”
Lawyers cautioned, however, that a man who was not the father still could be ordered to pay child support.
After DNA testing is complete, the law calls for a judgment that is “in the best interest of the parties,” a new and untested standard that has not yet been refined by case law and appeals courts. Under the old system, the “best interests of the child” prevailed.
Read the full article here.
Friday, September 3, 2010
From the WSJ blog:
A New York state appellate court ... became the first in the state to rule that a same-sex partner may be liable for child support.
The case of H.M. v. E.T involved a one-time lesbian couple who allegedly agreed to conceive a child through artificial insemination.
But after the baby was born, E.T. — the non-biological parent — ended the relationship. H.M. argued that she relied on her former partner’s promise of support when she decided to give birth to the child.
H.M. has stated a viable cause action for child support, a New York appellate court ruled. In prior ruling in the state, the court noted, fathers who have denied paternity have still been required to pay child support if they had developed a relationship with a child and had promised to support the child.
“By parity of reasoning, we hold that where the same-sex partner of a child’s biological mother consciously chooses, together with the biological mother, to bring that child into the world through [artificial insemination,] and where the child is conceived in reliance upon the partner’s implied promise to support the child, a cause of action for child support . . .has been sufficiently alleged,” the court ruled.
Monday, June 28, 2010
The lawyer who represented the
woman known as "Lola" in a high profile child support case is in
court for a similar case involving six women who feel
Anne-France Goldwater is alleging children of divorce in
Read more here.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Children and the Law Junior Faculty Workshop
July 16 -17, 2009
The Frances Lewis Law Center
at Washington & Lee University is sponsoring a workshop for junior
scholars working on legal issues related to children. The workshop will
be held this summer on the campus of Washington & Lee in Lexington,
More info on Feminist Law Professors blog here.
Friday, October 24, 2008
"Multiple Families, Multiple Goals, Multiple Failures,"
32 Harvard Journal of Law and Gender ____ (2009).
The abstract posted on ssrn provides:
Current child support laws are based on false assumptions about families that fail to reflect family complexity and the realities of parenting. As a result, the federal goals of child support laws are not met. New federal child support goals should be centered on the needs of poor families and multiple families and should consider more of the resources available to the families.
Multiple families are families where at least one existing parent has a child with a different partner. Federal child support laws ignore the way that children in multiple families compete for the limited resources of their parents. States lack guidance about how to choose between the two policy ways to allocate child support among families, "first family first" or "equalization."
This Article argues that the federal government should provide guidance to the states in answering the question of who bears the cost of subsequent families; this article proposes a new theory of child support, "limited equalization," which makes an explicit policy choice in favor of existing families.
Limited equalization includes five new child support goals: (1) an explicit policy choice about supporting multiple families giving a preference to existing families; (2) attention to the demographics of the families that need child support; (3) an expanded definition of parenting and the duty of support; (4) attention to poverty prevention; and (5) attention to gender equality. Limited equalization re-envisions the goals of child support and provides a mechanism to examine all of the circumstances and realities of the families in calculating child support awards. This major structural change attempts to address the complexities of child support, particularly in multiple families, while giving preference to existing families.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
It's official law now -- teenagers do not NEED to have a car. The case, in addition to presenting a catchy policy issue to discuss, provides an excellent demonstration of statutory interpretation.
A young woman in foster care sued the county to compel payments for automobile liability insurance so that she could lawfully drive a car. The juvenile court denied her motion and the California Court of Appeals affirmed. The petitioner argued that federal and state statutes required the payments to her foster parents for auto insurance and provided a set of arguments regarding statutory interpretation that would make a fine example of the skill for new law students. She argued that federal and state statutes regarding payments to foster parents were designed to “secure for the minor custody, care, and discipline as nearly as possible equivalent to that which should have been given by his or her parents.” Moreover, those statutes included requirements that payments be made for “liability insurance with respect to a child” which she argued included auto liablity insurance. (42 U.S.C. § 675(4)(a); § 11460)
The court disagreed, interpreting the statutes to exclude auto liability insurance and concluding that "The care of a minor does not require payment for car insurance (as opposed to necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter)."
In re Corrine W., (Cal. App. August 22, 2007)
Opinion online (last visited August 24, 2007 bgf)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Case Law Development: Child Support for Ward of a Divorced Couple Is Not Terminated When Ex-husband Withdraws as Guardian
The Indiana Supreme Court reversed a trial court's modification of child support in a case involving a couple who had become guardians of Wife's grandson from a prior marriage. Ten years after the guardianship was established, the couple divorced. The trial court incorporated into its decree the parties' settlement agreement, in which the couple agreed to share custody of the grandson and Husband agreed to pay Wife for some of the expenses of raising the grandson.
After the dissolution, Husband remarried, withdrew as guardian, and sought modification of the decree's section about payments for the benefit of the grandson. The trial court granted modification, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Indiana Supreme Court concluded that termination of guardianship was not grounds for modifying the dissolution decree.
The court rejected Wife's argument that Husband was in loco parentis to the grandson, and thus obligated to obigated to pay child support as if he were the father, reasoning:
...it makes little sense to require child support from a person in loco parentis when that status is temporary in nature and essentially voluntary. The stand-in parent would effectively be able to choose whether or not he or she should be required to pay child support simply by choosing to continue or discontinue the relationship. It also seems unwise to create a layer of financial risk for adults who voluntarily provide financial and emotional support to children not their own. Lastly, it is difficult to imagine imposing parallel obligations on the institutions (like juvenile courts or universities) to which in loco parentis is commonly deployed.
The court did, however, find that there were no grounds for modifying the decree. The court considered whether the agreed payments were best characterized as maintenance, child support, or disposition of property, but concluded that, regardless of the characterization, "the termination of guardianship has little practical effect" as there were no grounds for modifying the dissolution decree under any one of these theories.
In re Marriage of Snow, Indiana Supreme Court (March 13, 2007)
Opinion on web (Last visited March 20, 2007 bgf)
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Legislation is working its way through the Colorado legislature that would make it harder for Colorado to force people to pay child support to children DNA tests have proven aren't theirs. The text of the bill. See the CBS4Denver website for a news video on the bill.
According to the Kansas City Star, this week a bill was introduced into the MIssouri legislature allowing DNA evidence to disestablish paternity after the current one-year limitations period.
See this Time magazine article on the national movement to pass similar legislation.
(all links last visited February 15, 2007 bgf)
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Case Law Development: Michigan Court Lets Stand Parental Agreement that Future Child Support Shall Be Satisfied From Alimony
I regularly have students ask about parental agreements that waive child support and assure the students that parents may not bargain away their duty to support their children. But then I see cases like this one, in which the Supreme Court of Michigan over a strongly worded dissent denied appeal of a case in which the parents agreed that if the father was ordered to pay any child support in the future, the obligation must be satisfied entirely from the mother's alimony. The dissenting judge noted that "The 'deal' that the parents agreed on is unusual in the annals of divorce law in this state [and] may well be in violation of public policy."
Laffin v. Laffin, 2006 Mich. LEXIS 2788 (November 29, 2006)bgf