45 CFR 302.56 - Guidelines for setting child support orders.

§ 302.56 Guidelines for setting child support orders.

(a) Within 1 year after completion of the State's next quadrennial review of its child support guidelines, that commences more than 1 year after publication of the final rule, in accordance with § 302.56(e), as a condition of approval of its State plan, the State must establish one set of child support guidelines by law or by judicial or administrative action for setting and modifying child support order amounts within the State that meet the requirements in this section.

(b) The State must have procedures for making the guidelines available to all persons in the State.

(c) The child support guidelines established under paragraph (a) of this section must at a minimum:

(1) Provide that the child support order is based on the noncustodial parent's earnings, income, and other evidence of ability to pay that:

(i) Takes into consideration all earnings and income of the noncustodial parent (and at the State's discretion, the custodial parent);

(ii) Takes into consideration the basic subsistence needs of the noncustodial parent (and at the State's discretion, the custodial parent and children) who has a limited ability to pay by incorporating a low-income adjustment, such as a self-support reserve or some other method determined by the State; and

(iii) If imputation of income is authorized, takes into consideration the specific circumstances of the noncustodial parent (and at the State's discretion, the custodial parent) to the extent known, including such factors as the noncustodial parent's assets, residence, employment and earnings history, job skills, educational attainment, literacy, age, health, criminal record and other employment barriers, and record of seeking work, as well as the local job market, the availability of employers willing to hire the noncustodial parent, prevailing earnings level in the local community, and other relevant background factors in the case.

(2) Address how the parents will provide for the child's health care needs through private or public health care coverage and/or through cash medical support;

(3) Provide that incarceration may not be treated as voluntary unemployment in establishing or modifying support orders; and

(4) Be based on specific descriptive and numeric criteria and result in a computation of the child support obligation.

(d) The State must include a copy of the child support guidelines in its State plan.

(e) The State must review, and revise, if appropriate, the child support guidelines established under paragraph (a) of this section at least once every four years to ensure that their application results in the determination of appropriate child support order amounts. The State shall publish on the internet and make accessible to the public all reports of the guidelines reviewing body, the membership of the reviewing body, the effective date of the guidelines, and the date of the next quadrennial review.

(f) The State must provide that there will be a rebuttable presumption, in any judicial or administrative proceeding for the establishment and modification of a child support order, that the amount of the order which would result from the application of the child support guidelines established under paragraph (a) of this section is the correct amount of child support to be ordered.

(g) A written finding or specific finding on the record of a judicial or administrative proceeding for the establishment or modification of a child support order that the application of the child support guidelines established under paragraph (a) of this section would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case will be sufficient to rebut the presumption in that case, as determined under criteria established by the State. Such criteria must take into consideration the best interests of the child. Findings that rebut the child support guidelines shall state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines and include a justification of why the order varies from the guidelines.

(h) As part of the review of a State's child support guidelines required under paragraph (e) of this section, a State must:

(1) Consider economic data on the cost of raising children, labor market data (such as unemployment rates, employment rates, hours worked, and earnings) by occupation and skill-level for the State and local job markets, the impact of guidelines policies and amounts on custodial and noncustodial parents who have family incomes below 200 percent of the Federal poverty level, and factors that influence employment rates among noncustodial parents and compliance with child support orders;

(2) Analyze case data, gathered through sampling or other methods, on the application of and deviations from the child support guidelines, as well as the rates of default and imputed child support orders and orders determined using the low-income adjustment required under paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section. The analysis must also include a comparison of payments on child support orders by case characteristics, including whether the order was entered by default, based on imputed income, or determined using the low-income adjustment required under paragraph (c)(1)(ii). The analysis of the data must be used in the State's review of the child support guidelines to ensure that deviations from the guidelines are limited and guideline amounts are appropriate based on criteria established by the State under paragraph (g); and

(3) Provide a meaningful opportunity for public input, including input from low-income custodial and noncustodial parents and their representatives. The State must also obtain the views and advice of the State child support agency funded under title IV-D of the Act.

[ 81 FR 93562, Dec. 20, 2016]

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