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Will Alabama soon update its child support guidelines?

Whether you pay or receive child support, its amount, and the calculations used, greatly impact your life. As noted by the Subcommittee on Child Support Guidelines and Schedule Update in its Sept. 28, 2021, Memorandum to the Alabama Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines and Enforce1nent, the state adopted its current schedule in 2009. Consequently, many legislators and others question whether the schedule needs an update. The Subcommittee became tasked with making recommendations.

In its Memorandum, the Subcommittee set forth the following four main issues involved:

  1. Should the state change its Schedule?
  2. Should it change the Self-Support Reserve Adjustment?
  3. Should it change the Minimum Order Requirement?
  4. Should it adjust the Form CS-42 worksheet?

1. Schedule

The Subcommittee recommends changing the Child Support Schedule using the Betson-Rothbarth 5 methodology realigned for Alabama incomes. Theoretically, this will make child support amounts fairer to low-income payors who must spend more of their income on food. The Subcommittee further recommends adjusting the current Schedule’s maximum combined monthly gross income amounts from $20,000 to $30,000.

2. Self-Support Reserve Adjustment

The Subcommittee recommends changing the Support Reserve Adjustment to the 2021 federal poverty levels, which for Alabama amounts to $981 per month. It also recommends further adjusting this amount 15% downward to address payors’ payroll taxes, thereby allowing them to retain a slightly greater portion of any pay increase they experience as a result of obtaining full-time employment as opposed to part-time.

3. Minimum Order requirement

The Subcommittee recommends maintaining the current $50 per month minimum child support order for payors, less any health care or work-related childcare costs. In no event, however, should a court issue an order of less than zero.

4. Form CS-42 worksheet

The Subcommittee recommends adjusting the worksheet to take work-related childcare costs into account.

These recommendations now go to the Advisory Committee for a vote.

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