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Family Support Act of 1988


Published: November 18, 1988
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Case Management, Collections/Distribution/State Disbursement Unit (SDU), Paternity Establishment, Funding, Federal Financial Participation (FFP)
Policy, Action Transmittals (AT), Statutes/Legislation


Nov. 18, 1988

Subject: Family Support Act of 1988




November 18, 1988


SUBJECT:Family Support Act of 1988 - Provisions regarding the $50 Disregard Payment, Establishment of Paternity Until the Child's 18th Birthday, and 90 percent Federal Financial participation for Laboratory Costs in Establishing Paternity.

BACKGROUND:On October 13, 1988, the President signed into law the Family Support Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-485) which makes several changes that affect the Child Support Enforcement program under title IV-D of the Social Security Act (the Act). We are issuing this action transmittal to notify States that three changes to Federal law under title IV-D either have retroactive effect or have an imminent upcoming effective date. Proposed regulations implementing these statutory changes are under development and will be published for comment, but the statute is effective as of the dates noted below.

CONTENTS:$50 Disregard Payment. Section 2640 of the Deficit Reduction Act (Pub. L. 98-369) amended section 457(b)(1) of the Act to require States to pay the first $50 of such amounts collected periodically which represent the monthly support obligation to the AFDC family. The statute also amended section 402(a)(8)(A)(vi) of the Act to require States to disregard "the first $50 of any child support payments received in such month" when determining AFDC eligibility and the amount of the AFDC payment. These changes resulted in AFDC families having up to $50 of additional disposable income each month.

Section 102 of the Family Support Act of 1988, effective January 1, 1989, amended sections 402(a)(8)(A)(vi) and 457(b)(1) of the Act to clarify that the first $50 received in a monthwhich was due for a prior month must be paid to the family if the payment was made by the absent parent in the month when due. Under the new law, the AFDC family may not be denied the $50 disregard payment when the absent parent pays support on-time but there is a delay in transmitting the payment from the point of collection to the agency responsible for distribution. This is consistent with regulations published in the Federal Register on June 9, 1988 (see OCSE-AT-88-11 dated July 1, 1988). The Family Support Act of 1988 also takes significant changes to the Act affecting requirements for wage withholding. Immediate wage withholding is required in new orders,issued or modified on or after November 1,1990, and other changes are made which will ensure wage withholding applies in a majority of cases in the future. We believe that under the new law the $50 disregard also applies in any case in which an absent parent's child support payment is irrevocably withheld from his or her wages in the month in which the payment was due. In other words, if an employer withholds child support in the month the support was due and subsequently pays that support to the IV-D agency in a later month,the $50 disregard must be credited for the period during which the withholding actually occurred. States may be required to notify employers in existing wage withholding cases of the requirement that they identify the date. If the income withholding after January 1, 1989.

Establishment of Paternity Until a Child's 18th Birthday. Pub. L. 98-378, the Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984, added section 466(a)(5) of the Act to require States to have in effect and have implemented laws and procedures for the establishment of paternity for any child at any time prior to the child's 18th birthday.

Section 111 of the Family Support Act of 1988, effective October 13, 1988, amended section 466(a)(5) of the Act to clarify that, effective August 16, 1984, the date the Child Support Enforcement Amendments were signed into law, the requirement to have in effect laws and have implemented procedures to establish the paternity of any child at any time prior to the child's 18th birthday applies to: (1) any child for whom paternity has not yet been established; and (2) any child for whom a paternity action was brought but dismissed because a statute of limitations of less than 18 years was in effect in the State.

90 Percent FFP for Laboratory Costs to Establish Paternity. Prior to the enactment of the Family Support Act of 1988, section 455(a) (1) of the Act made Federal Financial Participation (FFP) available at the 68 percent rate for the cost of establishing paternity, including costs for laboratory testing.

Section 112 of the Family Support Act of 1988, effective October 1, 1988, amended section 455(a)(1) of the Act to make FFP available at the 90 percent rate for the costs of laboratory testing related to the establishment of paternity.

ATTACHMENT:Copies of section 102, relevant portions of section 111, and section 112 of the Family Support Act of 1988.


DATES:January 1, 1989 for the $50 disregard payment. August 16, 1984 for the establishment of paternity prior to the child's 18th birthday. October 1, 1988 for 90 percent FFP for laboratory testing related to establishing paternity.

INQUIRIES TO: OCSE Regional Representatives.

Wayne A. Stanton