Civil Legal Aid, Indigent Defense and the Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization in Child Support Programs Final Regulation: What Practitioners Need to Know About the New Federal Child Support Regulation

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Friday, January 13, 2017 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm

Webinar hosted by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association

On December 19, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new regulation that impacts child support enforcement programs in states across the country. Designed to allow for more realistic and regular payments to the custodial parent or guardian, while also avoiding the accrual of huge arrearages by noncustodial parents, the regulation ensures that child support orders are calculated to reflect the noncustodial parent’s actual ability to pay.

This free webinar featured Vicki Turetsky, Commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and practitioners from the civil legal aid and indigent defense communities to discuss highlights and goals of the new regulation, and its impact on clients served by civil legal aid and public defenders. This was an opportunity to learn what you and your program can do to assist your clients in child support establishment and enforcement proceedings. 

Child support orders set beyond the capacity of a noncustodial parent’s ability to pay frequently result in large arrearages that remain unpaid. In addition, the accrual of large child support arrearages often negatively impacts a noncustodial parent’s ability to maintain employment, which in turn impacts their capacity to make future child support payments. Arrearages also often have led to the incarceration of noncustodial parents held in contempt for nonpayment, even when they lacked the ability to pay. In Turner v. Rogers, the Supreme Court allowed incarceration without counsel if the court ensured certain process standards were met, and the new regulation is intended to incorporate these due process requirements.

State child support agencies are now required to consider a low-income noncustodial parent’s specific circumstances when a child support order is set. States must also consider incarceration as a substantial change in circumstances, are required to notify parents of their right to request a review and adjustment, and adjust payments accordingly. HHS considered more than 2,000 comments from the public, states, members of Congress and other stakeholders in finalizing the regulation. The regulation aims to set realistic orders so that noncustodial parents pay regularly, rather than setting unreasonably high orders, and is a substantial step in making child support enforcement programs more effective and flexible.

PDF of the Presentation: Child Support Programs Final Regulation Webinar

A recording of the webinar presentation will be available shortly.