2011 CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES REVIEW
August 8, 2011
Iberville Building, Room 1-129 Baton Rouge, LA
- Gary E. Franklin, DCFS CSE;
- Paul S. Fiasconaro designee for K. Jacob Ruppert, President of LA H.O. Association;
- Vincent Saffiotti, designee for the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Family Law Section;
- Bennett Wolfe, LA Ch. of American Academy of Matrimonial lawyers;
- Melissa Moreau, LDAA;
- Jennifer DeBlanc, designee for the Louisiana Senate, Senator Julie Quinn’s office;
- Randy Trahan, designee for LA State Law Institute’s Marriage and Persons Advisory Committee;
- Judge Lisa Woodruff-White, designee for the LA Dist. Court Judges Assoc.;
- Judge Pamela Baker, designee for Juvenile and Family Ct Judges; Tiffany Simpson, LA Children’s Cabinet;
- Lisa Andry, DCFS/CSE Executive Program Director
- Jessica Braun, designee for House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure
The public meeting was called to order by Gary Franklin.
Lisa Andry introduced Laura Gardner (sic correct name is Lara Gardner), Economist from Southeastern Louisiana State University. She is under contract to do the economic study for the Child Support guidelines. Committee members introduced themselves to her.
To update the CSGuidelines, child rearing expenditures will need to be determined as they relate to net income and gross income and how child support payments are determined.
Gary will get a copy of the final report from 4 years ago.
Bennett Wolfe asked if the guidelines would be expanded?
Mr. Franklin let Ms. Gardner know of the assigned research projects.
Ms. Gardner asked if the $100 minimum support should be kept.
Judge Lisa Woodruff White is studying the minimum Child Support amount.
Mr. Wolfe said the schedule needs uniformity to reduce conflict.
Vincent Saffiotti stated that the needs of the child should be considered.
Paul Fiasconaro said four years ago dollar amounts per child combined for gross income of family were increased. $100 minimum remained the same.
There are deductions for standard withholding using gross income.
Child support schedule shows combined income.
Judge Woodruff-White explained the schedule from zero to $10,000 was based on the old. Later the schedule from 10,000 to 20,000 was added. There was concern with the legislature updating the schedule. Even though the economic data supports it, the parents at the lower end of the scale would end up having decreases in child support. There is a problem when there are multiple children and multiple family cases. We have two sets of data. Judge Woodruff White said we need an updated schedule. There is a difference in child rearing expenses and child care expenses. There is a little problem between the $7,500 and $10,000 amounts. We need the most current economic data. The custodial parent is in a better position if a realistic obligation is paid rather than if an unrealistic obligation is not paid.
Two guests from Mahalia Jackson Community Center, Gregory Rattler Jr. and Tanya James, were invited by Judge Woodruff White to attend the meeting. She gave them surveys to fill out.
Ms. Gardner asked if there were other issues.
In the current schedule, $250 is included for extraordinary expenses.
Mr. Franklin brought up self employment income.
Extracurricular expenses need to be studied.
Judge Woodruff-White said under the current schedule there is a 15% dissolution factor. Do we use that throughout the schedule? There is lots of research out there on how to deal with low income parents. There is a self support reserve for low income parents. We define what percent of the self support reserve is used because if we used 100% to factor it, that would have resulted in more decreases. Data will show that it is important to use a self support reserve for low income parents. If we are going to do it, do it where it is applicable to the schedule.
We decided to include a work incentive. That is so it encourages parents to work.
Judge Woodruff-White spoke in regard of the lower end of the schedule where there is a $100 minimum in the state of Louisiana. The last time she looked, there were very few states that had a$100 minimum and they were not low income states. We used to have a schedule that started at $600. It is now $900. Judge Woodruff White would like it if the table would start at $600 again. Then make decisions where to go from there. It is fictitiously there because we had to bump it up.
What is the scope of Dr. Gardner’s contract? Analysis and determining child rearing expenses
One is economic or one is legal. Ms. Andry said Melissa and Gary, as attorneys, can take a lead on the legal part of the final report. If that is not sufficient we can find someone to help.
Mr. Franklin is to follow up with Jessica Braun on availability of Kerry Triche.
In regard to Survey Monkey, Bob Levy was not able to print out the survey.
The committee voted to extend the survey to the end of August. (Aug. 31)
Mr. Franklin turned over the floor to Paul Fiasconaro. He found a document from 2009 on Act 378. It is used by the 24th Judicial District Court in an effort to come up with income from the self- employed. It states that suitable documentation of current earnings shall include employer statements.
Judge Pam Baker said it would be great if it’s someone who keeps good business records but not all do. Some NCPs that get paid in cash want to be set as earning minimum wage. What can be done? Issue a subpoena? It won’t show on their tax return. They need verifiable income.
During discovery, Mr. Wolfe gets documentation such as federal tax returns and paycheck stubs to establish parent’s incomes.
Judge Woodruff White asked if anyone knows what other states are doing? It may address this issue in the majority of the cases. Last time information was gathered from other states.
Judge Baker says a big problem for her, are the people who have no documents or bank accounts and pay their utility bill in cash so we can’t trace anything.
Tiffany Simpson suggested looking at a person’s mortgage or loan application which would show their income.
Judge Baker asked what documents are necessary? If there is a question on a parent agreeing to the income amount, they would fill out an income expense affidavit. But if both parents agree, they wouldn’t need to fill it out.
Judge Woodruff White said she could get with the Work Force Commission to gather information.
Mr. Franklin said Professor Katherine Spaht will give her report on Paternity next meeting.
Ms. Andry said the committee needs a report on the survey by the September meeting so we can get the final report ready since the Legislative session starts early next year. A subgroup may need to gather shortly after the 31st to get a synopsis of what was found by the survey.
The next meeting will be held on Sept. 12.
The meeting was adjourned.
October 10, 2011 - 1:15 pm
November 14, 2011 – 1:15 pm