Myth v. Facts

Georgians for Child Support Reform (GACSR) Comments to Opposition’s Statements

As seen on an opposition’s website:

The former child support guidelines based on % of obligor was out of compliance with federal regulations and/or was unconstitutional.

The former guidelines were upheld to be constitutional and in federal compliance.”

GACSR Response:

Fact: The Georgia Supreme Court simply “deferred” to the responsible federal executive agency that determined if Georgia was in federal compliance.

GACSR has sent Freedom of Information Act Requests to multiple “federal executive agencies” requesting the “evidence” that Georgia complies with federal mandates. So far, we have only been provided a “checklist” dated October 21,1991 that Georgia sent to the Department of Health and Human Services as “proof” of compliance. Is this what the Georgia Supreme Court relied upon as evidence of compliance?

What cannot be debated is that Georgia’s former “% of obligor only model” was so bad, that two Superior Court Judges ruled that Georgia’s guidelines were unconstitutional and not in federal compliance.

It would be fruitless to compose a full rebuttal since the guidelines that were under attack in Ward v McFall and DHR v Sweat are no longer in existence thanks to the adoption of HB 221.

Also seen on opposition’s website:

The former child support guidelines bankrupts the non-custodial parent while the custodial parent enjoys a higher standard of living.

Only 9.2% of non-custodial parents live below the poverty level while 23.4% of custodial parents live below the poverty level.”

GACSR Response:

The myth mentions bankruptcy and standard of living, but does not address poverty.

The fact given doesn’t necessarily refute the myth.

Normally the reason custodial parents more often have a standard of living below the poverty level is because the custodial parent works less and has fewer job skills.  The lower standard of living is attributable to the custodial parent’s inability or unwillingness to support oneself with an understanding that the custodial parent may have to incur additional expenses such as day care, etc. 

Without understanding the source of their data, what the opposition really states is that 23.4% of mothers work LESS than part-time.

Here is their fact, again:

Only 9.2% of non-custodial parents live below the poverty level while 23.4% of custodial parents live below the poverty level.”

Note: According to Kids Count 2004 stats, 35% of female-headed families receive child support and only 8% of Georgia’s children are in extreme poverty.

Poverty is determined by income level alone and does not include child support, income-tax credits, WIC, food stamps, etc.

Let’s consider the cash child support payment of $721.00/month (20% for one child using the average gross income given by the Census Bureau, which is $43,316/year).

This equates to $8652.00/year to the mother and does not include any non-cash payments made by the father or any other benefits the mother is entitled to (i.e. non-cash or tax credits).

Poverty income level is $12,830.00 for a 2-person household (mother and child). If a mother is at poverty level, than this means that she is earning less than $4178.00 year. Remember, she receives an $8652.00/year payment of support from the father, which means she needs to earn $4178.00 or more to be considered out of poverty.

A minimum wage worker earns $11460.08/year at 40 hours per week, part time $5730.04/year<20 hours/week>. The earnings from a part-time job  in addition to child support would be $14,382.04/year (higher than poverty level). So, if the fact states that 23.4% of custodial parents live below the poverty level, they are really stating that those custodial parents are working less than part-time, earning minimum wage.

* Calculations are based on the August 1, 2005 minimum wage amount of $5.51/hour for the state of Georgia, as provided by the Department of Labor,

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