The Family Support Act of 1988 amended the guidelines provisions of the Child Support Enforcement Amendments of l984 by requiring that a state’s support guidelines operate as a ”rebuttable presumption” of the correct support amount in any judicial or administrative proceeding for the award of child support. A decision-maker at such a proceeding may deviate from the guidelines amount only if a written finding or a specific finding on the record is made that it would be inappropriate to apply the guidelines amount in the particular case.
The Family Support Act mandated that each state, by October 1990, have in place procedures for the purpose of ”reviewing” and ”adjusting” child support awards that were being enforced by the state’s child support enforcement agency in accordance with the state’s child support guidelines. This provision applies equally to cases in which the custodian and the children are receiving public assistance payments and to cases not involving public aid in which the custodian is seeking child support services.
Under the Family Support Act, a state must also adopt procedures to ensure that each parent who is subject to a child support order in effect in the state is so notified. There must be notice of any review of the order at least 30 days before the commencement of the review, of the right to request the state to review the order, and of a proposed adjustment in the child support award amount. A parent will be afforded not less than 30 days after such notification of the right to initiate proceedings in order to challenge the adjustment or determination.
In addition, the Family Support Act requires all states to adopt proven techniques for improving, simplifying, and otherwise strengthening methods of securing child support and establishing paternity. The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) also offers a Federal Parent Locator Service that has access to addresses and social security numbers from the Internal Revenue Service. States have become more aggressively involved in collecting court-ordered child support awards since the enactment of the Family Support Act.
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