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Child Support Guideline Reform

Some parents who are in arrears on their spousal or child support payments may be entitled to relief through California's "Offer in Compromise" program. Depending on individual circumstances you may be entitled to complete relief of all arrearages and interest. CAFC assisted with bills by Assembly Members Wright and Aroner that were eventually passed in 2003 and established the "Offer in Compromise" program under California's Family Code section 17560. (See Family Code sections 17500-17560. Additional information can be found in this March 2004 letter from the Department of Child Support Services.)

This program was to sunset on January 1, 2007, but CAFC advocates worked with Assembly Members, committee staff and others to see that the program was extended. An agreement was reached by committee in a budget bill, AB 1808 (2006), and signed on July 12, 2006, to extend the program until 2009.

In many cases California's current support guidelines are negatively impacting low-medium wage earners and the poor. The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) March 2003 study entitled, Examining Child Support Arrears in California: The Collectability Study (prepared by The Urban Institute), shows that at least 80 percent of all arrears are associated with individuals who make $15,000.00 a year or less. DCSS 2004 data (Support Orders Set By Default, Federal Fiscal Year 2004) further acknowledges that support orders have been set too high and that the rate of default orders are too high because of poor notice and service of process.

CAFC has been attending regular meetings with DCSS at the Directors' office in Sacramento. CAFC will continue to with DCSS to help solve some of these problems in a way that makes it possible for both parents to reasonably support their children.