Realistic, enforceable orders that will yield stable support payments for children must be based on the actual ability of the noncustodial parent to pay support. Low-income noncustodial parents with inappropriate support orders that represent a high percentage of their reported earnings result in the child not receiving adequate or stable support and the accumulation of arrears that are not collectible. Judges and judicial officials should also be mindful that legal questions arising from insufficient information or lack of clarity in a child support order may result in another court’s refusal to effectively enforce the order, inadequate enforcement, second guessing of terms, or long processing delays.
An excellent and useful child support order checklist is published in the bench card A Practice Guide: Making Child Support Orders Realistic and Enforceable. Selected examples of the items on the checklist are:
Recommendations aimed at setting appropriate, realistic and enforceable orders are addressed in the National Judicial - Child Support Task Force report Setting Appropriate Child Support Orders: Practical Techniques Used in Child Support Agencies and Judicial Systems in 14 States. This August 2007 report also discusses the framework and current challenges for setting appropriate child support orders gleaned from a survey of fourteen states. For an examination of “Who is Not Paying and Why” and the value of a “problem-solving court” review the technical assistance bulletin Integrating Problem-Solving Court Practices Into the Child Support Docket. For the effects of child support order amounts on payments by low-income families review ACF/OCSE Reports (April 2007).