Support Primer [PDF]|
Montana’s Child Support Enforcement Division developed
a “primer” for participants in its 2004 child support
guideline review. This document is largely objective and gives
historical background for states adopting presumptive child
support guidelines. Also provided are descriptions of alternative
guidelines, their strong points and apparent economic flaws.
Good reading for those needing basic information about alternative
The Primer from R. Mark Rogers
This Montana child support guideline primer is very good overall.
I did find a few minor errors – which can be expected
in a document this comprehensive, attempting to simplify very
technical material, and reliant upon a variety of sources.
On page 6, the statement that half the
Wisconsin-style states use fixed percentages and half use
a percentage that varies by income is incorrect. There may
be confusion over the fact that half of obligor-only states
apply their fixed percentages to gross income, and a little
over half apply them to net income. Only two states that are
obligor-only use percentages that vary with income: Arkansas
and North Dakota. This is discussed in Venohr and Williams,
"The Implementation and Periodic Review of State Child
Support Guidelines," Family Law Quarterly, Spring
1999, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 7-38.
Additionally, there is some discussion
of Cost Shares’ use of USDA data that is not quite correct.
Cost Shares specifically does not rely upon the per capita
costs from the USDA. Some USDA components are per capita and
some are not. Cost Shares removes the per capita housing component
from USDA data and substitutes the marginal housing costs
for children from the Department of the Interior. For other
USDA components that are per capita (transportation and miscellaneous),
husband-wife data are substituted as a proxy for marginal
costs for single parent households. These data act as a proxy
for marginal child costs. They are corroborated as reasonable
based on standard of living analysis on Cost Shares as published
in “Child Support Guidelines: Underlying Methodologies,
Assumptions, and the Impact on Standards of Living,”
R. Mark Rogers and Donald J. Bieniewicz, Conference on the
Law and Economics of Child Support Payments, University of
California, Santa Barbara, September 20, 2002. Publication
scheduled in The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments,
William S. Comanor, ed., Edward Elgar Publishing, fall 2004.
v. Smith case
in Oregon would be a good reference for the page 2 discussion
on the little consideration given to applying welfare recovery
formulas to non-welfare cases. This case was critical of a
suggestion to apply a welfare guideline to non-welfare cases
and indicated how child costs should be allocated to reflect
a standard of equal duty of support. Smith v. Smith,
626 P.2d 342 (Or. 1981).
Again, this Montana document is well written,
substantially objective, simplifies key issues, and provides
excellent background material for those being introduced to
child support guideline issues.