Presumptive Guidelines for Child Support Awards
TO: ALL STATE IV-D DIRECTORS
RE: PRESUMPTIVE GUIDELINES - FOUR YEAR REVIEWS
As you know, Federal law and regulations require each State to have presumptive guidelines for setting child support award amounts in the State. See õ467 of the Social Security Act and 42 CFR õ302.56. These guidelines may be established by law or by judicial or administrative action. Federal law and regulations also mandate that guidelines shall be reviewed at least once every four years to ensure that their application results in the determination of appropriate child support award amounts. We addressed the timing of this review process in the final rule published in the Federal Register on May 15, 1991 (56 FR 22335). Since the law was effective October 13, 1989, we specified in the Preamble to that rule that the initial four year review and any necessary revisions to the guidelines must be completed by October 13, 1993 (56 FR 22346).
The purpose of these reviews is to ensure that the application of the guidelines result in the determination of appropriate support award amounts in each State. The rule further requires that, as part of the review, States must consider economic data on the cost of raising children and analyze case data, gathered through sampling or other methods, on the application of, and deviations from, the State's guidelines. These reviews will help to determine if the guidelines are adequate or should be modified in any way, and if deviations are limited and justified. This requirement is designed to ensure informed decision-making as a result of the review process.
By and large, earlier studies undertaken prior to the establishment of the guidelines required by 42 CFR õ302.56 would not have met the standards and guideline evaluation criteria set forth in the regulation. With the deadline for completion of the review fast approaching, we want to bring this to your attention because failure to meet this requirement could result in loss of Federal funding to the State.
Robert C. Harris
Acting Deputy Director
Office of Child Support Enforcement
cc: ACF Regional Administrators