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Last updated 2:09AM ET
March 5, 2021
Alabama
Alabama
Alabama Child Support Schedule Could Be Changed
(2007-08-06)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - A committee that advises the Alabama Supreme Court says it's time to adjust the Alabama Child Support Schedule, which would change the amount of money divorced noncustodial parents pay for their children each month.

Middle-income parents those earning $1,250 to $5,450 per month before taxes could pay up to 36 percent more under recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines and Enforcement. Parents in the lowest income threshold less than $1,100 before taxes could see their payments drop as much as 71 percent, while those with income of $5,500 or more would see increases ranging from 0.5 percent to 9.5 percent.

But the Supreme Court is concerned about the possible impact of the proposed changes, particularly double-digit increases for middle-class parents, and asked the committee to take another look at the proposal.

Courts use the schedule to determine child support that parents pay or receive and the committee meets again on the issue on Sept. 21 in Montgomery. Changes will only affect divorces that are finalized after the court adopts a new schedule, but it could send parents returning to court to modify existing agreements.

Decatur attorney Eric Summerford, whose practice includes clients paying child support, said the proposed changes could be "devastating" for parents with modest incomes and could result in more people falling behind in child-support payments.

"You are going to fill up the jails with non-compliant parents," told The Decatur Daily in a Sunday story. "If you do that, they are not out making money to pay child support."

But he also believes some change is overdue because the state schedule uses income ranges adopted more than a decade ago for money intended to take care of children at today's prices.

Summerford, who himself pays child support, said the parent whose income is $2,250 per month, or about $12.98 per hour, would need an additional 58 cents per hour the equivalent of a 4 percent raise.

"I know what they are trying to do," Summerford said, of the committee's proposed changes. "But at that income level, that is a substantial change."

Two fathers, Tim Smith of Decatur and advisory committee member James R. Blackston of Vestavia Hills, want more opportunity for public comment before the committee's decisions.

"It is parents in the middle who pay the most, while people who have the most income and political influence pay less," Smith said. "Everyone understands why people at the lower end pay less."

Smith, who has a 13-year-old son, and Blackston, whose children are adults, are concerned about the impact of two other proposed changes: prorating insurance costs and credit for children born before or after the divorce.

Another committee member, Benjamin W. Patterson of Montgomery, also believes the proposed payment schedule could be a financial hardship for many people, but he disagrees that the committee ignores public concerns.

While many members are professionals, Patterson said, they represent many professionals with different perspectives.

He said the model does not consider the fact that divorced families have two households, usually two sets of mortgages or rent payments and two sets of household expenses while intact families do not.

That means that a parent paying child support has less disposable income than the theoretical shared-income family model the committee used as the basis for the child-support schedule it recommended, he said.

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Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml


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