The Georgia Commission on Child Support. Atlanta, Georgia. May 1, Re: Presentation by Dr. Robert Williams

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1 The Georgia Commission on Child Support Atlanta, Georgia May, Re: Presentation by Dr. Robert Williams of Policy Studies, Inc. Denver, CO

2 Page 0 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Well, good morning. I'm happy to be back here. According to my notes, it's been five years, I think, since I've worked with the Commission, and even though it's been quite, I mean four years, five years, -- even though it's been a while, some of the things that I'm gonna talk about are similar to what I discussed last time. So for those of you who were here last time, I kind of apologize in advance, but we do have some new material and some new observations this time. I'll be stepping through the briefing material that's entitled "Child Support Guidelines Review," and you have to kind of make believe that these are color overheads, okay? And we'll kind of go from there, but there are several things that I want to talk to you about this morning. I'm gonna start with just a brief discussion of federal requirements around a four-year review of guidelines and what that review is supposed to impel. Secondly, I want to talk some about the existing Georgia guidelines and what we think should be reviewed. I've compared the existing guidelines against what we think are the best available estimates of actual child-rearing costs for children in intact families. Then compare the Georgia guidelines with guidelines in the surrounding states, some of the key guidelines in surrounding states. We tried to pick the ones that we think are most

3 Page 0 0 interesting and useful as comparisons. Then talk about comparison of the guidelines with the most widely-used guidelines model, which is income shares. Then talk some about what we think might be some interesting, possible, potential adjustments to the existing guidelines if you decide to keep the same basic structure for the guidelines that you have now. Let me just say a couple words about my perspective. My perspective is that of someone -- I've worked on child support guidelines, as some of you know, going back to and did some of the original federal research on that topic and have worked, at one time or another, with about 0 of the states in terms of their development and updating of child support guidelines. In addition, our company operates child support enforcement agencies, and I just wanted to put that out on the table because we do operate three child support enforcement agencies here in Georgia for Cobb and DeKalb and Fulton Counties for the nonwelfare cases. I just want to lay that out on the table because sometimes people think that's significant, and sometimes people think that's not significant, but wanted to let you know about that part of our background here. the Counties themselves? Is that private or do you do it for

4 Page 0 0 DR. WILLIAMS: We do it under contract to the State, so we're actually operating the State child support enforcement program for those counties for the nonwelfare cases. So let's start with page where it says -- the one that's entitled "The Four-Year Review Guidelines." States are required to review their child support guidelines at least every four years, and states generally have a great deal of latitude in terms of how they conduct their review, who conducts the review. Certainly a commission like this, I think, is an ideal way to conduct the review. And there's only two requirements for this review. One is that you must consider economic evidence on child-rearing costs as part of your review, and I think the discussion that we're gonna have this morning will really accomplish that objective of the review. Secondly, you are supposed to analyze case data on deviation from the guidelines, and I had a little bit of discussion with Justice Hunstein before the meeting about this. This is a federal requirement. I would say that states have honored this in a number of different ways, including not doing very much at all on this topic, frankly, but there are a couple of ways that I think are good to go about this. One is if the State automated child support system for D cases, STARS in

5 Page 0 0 Georgia, has data on deviations from guidelines, then that could be an easy way of getting information on deviation rates at least as they access for D cases. A better way to do it, although something that very few states have done, is to go out and actually sample cases to see what is the impact of the guidelines in individual cases, to what extent there are deviations, and what are the reasons for those deviations. Given the guidelines that you have, a useful side effect of that, I think -- a useful side benefit would be to see how people are using the ranges that you have. I would caution you, though, that doing something like this can be informative in another way. I think states have tried, because they have found that the case files, the court files, are not as well documented as they are supposed to be and so I think before you actually contemplated doing something like this that I think you should go out and take a small sample first to see whether the data are there. If the data are not there, it means that judges are not doing what they're supposed to be doing. If the judges or the attorneys or parties to the cases, in terms of making sure that the guideline calculation is documented and that there's evidence in the case file or court file as to what that is all about. You're talking about any kind of

6 Page deviation. DR. WILLIAMS: Yes, any kind of deviation. And that is supposed to be required now that it be in writing. DR. WILLIAMS: Correct. And the question is, is it. Yes. I think that -- so it is -- to come up with the right kind of methodology would take really a pretty good amount of planning. DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. Probably a form sheet. At the front of the case file would be the easiest way to accomplish that and require that the court keep the form, fill out the form, whether it's an agreement or a jury trial or whatever it is. DR. WILLIAMS: Right. Absolutely. DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. Okay. What would a sample size be like that you 0 think would be appropriate? DR. WILLIAMS: Oh, off the top of my head, I can't answer that, Mark, except that I would think 00 or 00 cases would be, you know, a ball park kind of minimum. You could try to

7 Page get by with lower, but if you want to break it into any subgroups at all, I think you want to go up to 00 or 00 and preferably even more. That really depends in part on the quality of your data and how many breakdowns you want to do. I'm still trying to interpret what the 0 0 intent of CFR in this matter is. Is my understanding correct that one of the intents is to review the application in court of the guidelines versus what the presumptive awards are so as to determine if it's appropriate to change the guidelines to correspond to actual practice? DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. I think that's exactly the intent. I think the intent is really to see how well guidelines are working, and if you see a pattern of deviations -- let's pose theoretically you saw a pattern of deviations around additional dependents or around shared custody or visitation or, yeah, or custodial parent income, any of those factors. Then that may affect, may affect or may not affect, your perspective on whether you should go change the guidelines or not. On the other hand, if you see that there's not a lot of deviation going on, then that might make you think that the system guidelines are working pretty well. Gerald, would you happen to know whether STARS is capturing data on deviations or not?

8 Page MR. GILLETTE: No, I don't believe it does. DR. WILLIAMS: Okay. MR. GILLETTE: If not -- good analysis, DR. WILLIAMS: Right. Could you check on that and be sure and get back to the Commission? MR. GILLETTE: Certainly. Is this a new requirement from the CFR? 0 DR. WILLIAMS: No. No. It's been in there since these regs were promulgated, and I don't recall exactly, but I think it was around 0 or that these regs were promulgated. Okay. So it's been a requirement for some time. DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. But there are very few states that 0 have managed to actually compile this kind of required statistic. DR. WILLIAMS: There are very few states that have done full-blown studies of the type that we're talking about. There are quite a few states where the child support enforcement system does capture those data, and so in those states they can at least get a read for D cases but not for non-d cases. But basically to meet the federal

9 Page requirement for matching funds, we need to do this. DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. But the federal government also 0 doesn't push it, is that correct? That they have not strictly construed it. DR. WILLIAMS: Right. I mean, to be candid about this, if you in fact have what, a July deadline for reporting, I mean, I think it's gonna be hard for you to mount an effort like this, but I think what's critical or would be critical then is that going forward you try to lay the groundwork for making sure that a study like this gets done. And that's what I try to tell states and suggest to states. MS. CLAIBORNE: Well, the federal government would not, in fact, be able to withdraw funds without giving the State notice and opportunity to respond, etc., right? DR. WILLIAMS: Yeah. I've never seen them, I've never seen them come down on a state over this. I mean, they have many more important things to go after states about than this. MR. THOMAS: When you say lay the groundwork, would 0 having looked at the other state's pick this data out as part of their data system would be -- would the best option be to try to alter stars assuming that the data aren't there? DR. WILLIAMS: I think that -- yeah, I think that would be

10 Page 0 0 one good option. I think the best option -- the best option really is to have a university or someone go out and do a study and see what's actually going on in the case files. I think it is good -- I think it would be good if STARS captured this information. I think that's what a lot of state systems do, are designed to do, but I think the best thing from the standpoint of being on a commission -- and I've been on the Colorado Commission three times. What you really want to see is you want to see the total picture, and D cases are just gonna being a subset of the total picture. They may be less prone to deviation, by the way, than the other cases. MR. LAND: I'm new at this. DR. WILLIAMS: I'm sorry. MR. LAND: Is the information that you're talking about picking up, is that information that would come out of individual court files? DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. MR. LAND: I'd just maybe make a suggestion to Justice Hunstein. The State Bar -- we did a study report in the city a year ago that was mainly addressed at the lack of available civil data, civil case data. It's principally designed to address the problem with tort reform proposals that people come and say, we've got a runaway jury system, dada, dada, dada, and

11 Page 0 0 yet there was no available database to determine the average jury verdicts and those type things. Out of that there was a committee appointed through the State Bar that includes the clerks throughout the State as well as the lawyers. It's chaired by Paul Kilpatrick, and they have been studying how to develop a better data collection system for civil cases. And I think they're gonna include in their recommendation information relating to divorce cases, but I don't know exactly what type of information they're gonna be including that. And it seems that this could be something that would go hand in hand with their effort. I know they're going to make the recommendation to the Supreme Court and ask Justice Benham, I think, to consider including the recommendation in his report to the General Assembly next year because it's gonna require some funding to link up all these computer systems throughout the State. That's a good idea. 0 MR. LAND: And instead of us going out on a separate limb, it seems like to me we could include this in their recommendation. And they're gonna have a standard form for collecting data at the beginning and at the disposition of cases that I think they're gonna consider, suggesting that the court make that a part of the Uniform Rules. And this would

12 Page seem to me to go hand in hand with that. I agree. MR. LAND: Paul Kilpatrick, I think, is the chair. All right. 0 0 MR. LAND: Of that committee. It's about 0 people. Kay Sibley is coordinating it so far. DR. WILLIAMS: I think that's a very good suggestion, and I think that generally speaking, from what I've seen, the federal government is mostly concerned with states try to come up some way of getting systematic information about how their guidelines are working. Guidelines in general are not regarded as a major issue right at the moment because they are working pretty well in, I'd say, basically all the states. MR. LAND: One thing that appeals to me about this is that it's gonna require appropriation of some money to reautomate our system to get our different groups working together, but you can go to the legislators and say that there is this, that we're supposed to keep this data in order to receive federal funds in this area, then there may be a little more incentive for folks to be willing to use part of the budget for that. Just saying we need this data to improve our justice system. And I think it's really important that the next Commission have the opportunity to have that case data

13 Page study. MR. LAND: Did this issue come up during the last Commission? DR. WILLIAMS: I do not remember, I'm sorry. I don't either. DR. WILLIAMS: It was five years ago, and I've been to a lot of different states so after a while -- Well, I've only been the chair of that 0 0 one Commission, and I don't remember either whether it came up. It didn't seem like it was the same problem that it is right now. DR. WILLIAMS: Yeah. Okay. Let me move on to key assumptions of your guidelines. Of course, it's primarily based on number of children and percent is -- gross income, but we're gonna be looking at that quite a bit. And it's expressed as a range of percentages, for example, to percent of gross income for one child and so on. And there is an extensive list of deviation factors. Let me start off by talking about two and three for a moment. In going with the range of percentages first, if you flip to page, we do have some significant concerns about the use of ranges -- not only the use of ranges, I would say, but how broad they are with respect to the Georgia guidelines. And

14 Page 0 0 this concern comes primarily from our understanding of federal -- behind the guidelines, and it also are work with other, with guidelines in other states. We think that the use of ranges may conflict with federal requirements because if go to CFR 0, which is just a few short paragraphs that address child support guidelines, they require that your child support guidelines result in the computation of the child support obligation. And so the intent -- our understanding of the intent of that rule is that you be able to take whatever information that they -- using the calculated guideline, and say, in your case, number of children and gross income of the obligor and come up with a result, not a range of results. Because part of what guidelines are supposed to accomplish are to achieve consistent results across people in similar situations, and part of what guidelines are supposed to accomplish is to bring some predictability to the process of setting child support. And both of those are frustrated if you have ranges, especially ranges as broad as what Georgia does. You could take, for example, you have an obligor that's making $,000, a noncustodial who's making $,000 gross a month. Depending on where he or she falls in the ranges, the child support obligation can range from $0 a month to $0 a

15 Page 0 0 month, and that's a very wide range, I think, in terms of guidelines. And it's something that I would hope that you would really take a hard look at. Now I've asked many people down through the years how do the Georgia guidelines really work. Do the Georgia guidelines -- do people always use a midpoint, almost default to the midpoint. Well, the answer is frequently, yes, but then some people say that there's variation, that it's systematically made to account for income of the noncustodial parent, as say the higher the income, the lower the judge tends to go on the range, and some people say that custodial parent income is taken into account through the range. That is to say judges tend to go lower in the range if there is significant custodial parent income. If that's true and if it's fairly systematic, then maybe you don't have a big problem. Or, alternatively, if judges are defaulting to the midpoint, well, then, maybe you don't have a problem. But to the extent that judges are bouncing around and that the amount of child support is not predictable, I think that is a problem. We really don't have any indication because we don't have the case data study. Is that correct? DR. WILLIAMS: I don't have any indication, and I think

16 Page 0 0 the question is whether the people on the Commission that are more familiar with the day-to-day workings of the guideline would have that kind of information. MR. LAND: But this problem would be one of the reasons specifically why we would want to have the case data in hand to make our determination for this Commission. DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. I think that you would have two reasons for getting case data. I think one is to look at deviations, and I think the second is to look at what's going on within that range systematically, if you could, to find out whether it's applied in any kind of uniform way. Now when I get into the subsequent discussions, I'm gonna be talking about two approaches to this issue. One is to change guidelines. Actually, there's three approaches to this issue. One is to change guidelines. The second is to, and this is in no particular order -- the second would be to just reduce the ranges to one number. That's essentially what New Jersey did a number of years ago. They had a plus or minus five percent factor in there to give the judges some leeway. They found that judges weren't using it, so they just went to the middle number. Was this after a case data study? DR. WILLIAMS: New Jersey, I think, has pretty

17 Page consistently done case data studies, but they -- their guidelines are set by a judicial committee, a committee of judges. I see. DR. WILLIAMS: So in their case, they were pretty familiar, they were trial judges, and they were quite familiar with the way that the guidelines were being used and how other judges were using them. So, at least for the interim, for this 0 Commission, we could, we could talk to judges or have judges come talk to us and get a general feel about deviation and use of the range and uniformity and that sort of thing. DR. WILLIAMS: I think, at minimum, that would be helpful, yes. Okay. 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Both -- I would think it would be helpful both to get in individual judges and also attorneys, family law attorneys, and child support enforcement attorneys that work with these kinds of issues on a daily basis and are up in front of a lot of judges cause frequently it's been my observation that if you bring in judges, they tend to be people that are in leadership positions and may be more conscientious than other judges might be or more knowledgeable. And it's helpful to get

18 Page kind of a spectrum if you can. attorneys? Okay. So, family law attorneys and D DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. Because they tend to go off in front of a broader range. Okay. Thank you. 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Then the third possible way of dealing with the ranges is something that I'll be discussing later. We just come up with, we just played around with some ideas. That's the best way to describe it -- played around with some ideas for taking what we've been told are some common uses of the range and then essentially codifying them, codifying them in the sense of saying, okay, if you're really going lower in the range in noncustodial parent groups, income goes up, then have a defined step-down process. Or if you're going lower in the range with custodial parent income, then have a defined stepdown process. So that's, I have some ideas that I'll be talking about later on that. Could I just restate that? What you're 0 saying, the way I understanding it, is the range was basically an implicit admission that the percentage should decline as income rises? DR. WILLIAMS: No. I don't think that's -- the question

19 Page 0 is how is it actually used, and I've been told that that's one of the ways that it's used, but it's just anecdotal evidence, Mark, and I just don't know really. You don't know until you go out and find out yourselves how the ranges are actually being used. MR. LAND: One reason for the range could be geographic. I mean, it could be concluded that in [city], Georgia, that maybe the percentage needed for child support may be different than in Buckhead. MS. CLAIBORNE: That's actually one of our deviation factors, so we shouldn't require a range for that. The legislative history of the range is that it was the great reluctance on the part of the General Assembly to enact a fixed guideline. They wanted to preserve judicial discretion, and the purpose of the range was to allow for discretion. And that's the history. Now that doesn't address how it's applied today, but MR. THOMAS: Discretion for any reason. MS. CLAIBORNE: Yes, for any reason. 0 MR. THOMAS: Relating to custodial income. MS. CLAIBORNE: Right. That's correct. MR. THOMAS: Related to that, and I don't know if you want to address this now or later, but the issue of the fact of

20 Page the extensive list of deviation factors -- DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. MR. THOMAS: I don't know whether you have any comments you want to make on that. DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. MR. THOMAS: Now or later. Good. 0 0 DR. WILLIAMS: I was going to comment on that next, which is it's extremely extensive, and just as we don't, we're not aware of any other states that use ranges with their guidelines any more. We are also not aware of any state that has a list quite this long. There's some states that have lists that are longer than I would personally like to see, but this is a very long list of deviations. And it really does concern me that you are -- I guess the question is, how are they being used. Are they being used sparingly and systematically? Maybe yes, maybe no. Or are they being used as license to deviate from the guidelines almost at will because you could certainly, in this list, find a rationale for deviating in just about any case. And I guess what troubles me about this is that it doesn't tell anybody how you should deviate. A lot of these deviation factors are addressed quantitatively in other guidelines. Ages of the children. Educational costs. Childcare costs. Shared physical custody adjustments. And, again,

21 Page what this says to me is you're giving a tremendous amount of latitude for variation, but you have no idea how that latitude is being exercised and whether it's being used to achieve results that are fundamentally fair or not. So that's why I have kind of a philosophical problem with it. I mean, as a rule of thumb, I like to tell states they shouldn't have more than four or five. If you have more than four or five, you really need to be rethinking the design of your guidelines. Maybe your guidelines aren't addressing enough specific factors. Let me just add one caveat. I, however, am not one that has said that ever that guidelines should be rigidly applied. I'm always in favor of ultimate judicial discretion around use of guidelines because I don't think I'm smart enough, and I don't think any group of people sitting on a commission are smart enough to anticipate every combination of circumstances that arises. So I think there should always be an elastic clause in there allowing a judge or a court, a master hearing officer or whatever, to deviate for good reason because it's necessary in the best interest of the child or to achieve fairness between the parties, but I like to see states keep the list of specific factors down to a very small number. Now, of those deviations, which ones

22 Page 0 0 do you think should be eliminated? DR. WILLIAMS: Well, I haven't really, I haven't really thought about that a lot, but I think the last time we suggested possible adjustments to the existing guideline for a number of these factors, and those included the health-care premium, support obligations to another household. I don't think income amputation is a reason for deviation. I think that's something that should be incorporated into a definition of income used -- The calculation -- DR. WILLIAMS: Around income amputation. Oh, I don't know. I mean, those are to give you some idea. Even travel expenses to exercise visitation are things that are sometimes addressed explicitly within guidelines. But, anyway, there -- it's really a matter of striking a balance, I think, between where you want to take the guidelines. There are a lot of the things that you just kind of -- that are just kind of in this list of deviation factors that I think would be preferable if you could quantify them in some way. I think you would end up with much more predictable and fair kind of system. I think the reason we have such an extensive list is there were complaints that judges, in the exercise of their discretion, without this deviation list,

23 Page 0 would not consider those as a good reason to deviate from the guideline. DR. WILLIAMS: Right. And I guess, I guess my question is what's really happening out there, you know. If I had to guess, my guess is that there's not a tremendous amount of deviation going on. That they are gravitating toward the midpoint of the range. That a few of the judges are maybe a little bit more systematic in terms of what they do within the range, and I'm just guessing that, based on my experience in other states, that judges quickly gravitate to guidelines cause it kind of gets them off the hook. And they just -- I think it really helps the parties settle and resolve the issue themselves, gives them some certainty. DR. WILLIAMS: And that's why guidelines are good, but the problem is if you're relying on this list of deviation factors to achieve fairness around a lot of these variables, then you're probably gonna be disappointed in terms of how the guidelines are actually working. 0 When you say that we should consider eliminating health-care premiums as one of the reasons, along with such as other dependent obligations, custodial parent income, what you're saying -- that should be part of the

24 Page presumptive formula? DR. WILLIAMS: Yes. The preferable methodology? 0 DR. WILLIAMS: That's exactly right. You should build it into the calculation. And if you don't have it handy, I'd be happy to give you a copy of some of the material that we developed last time for the Commission that proposed some ways that you could build adjustments, some alternative approaches to it to taking those factors explicitly into account in the guideline. What are the benefits of quantifying these 0 reasons for deviations in the presumptive formula? DR. WILLIAMS: Well, for example, health insurance is something that's gonna come up in virtually every case, and if you don't -- if you have it quantified, then you know every person that is affected by this calculation is going to be affected in the same way. If you don't quantify it, then it's gonna be all over the map. You're gonna have some cases where there's a deviation, some cases where there's not a deviation. And cases where there is a deviation, the courts are going to be addressing it in different ways. They're gonna be calculating it in different ways. So what's going on right now, I would lay money on this, is that you have courts all

25 Page over the map in terms of whether they consider it or not and how they, how they take it into account. And without any guidance from the Commission and the Legislature, therefore you're gonna have a situation which is not necessarily equitable as between two people that are similarly situated. So if -- reasons for deviations were 0 quantified in the presumptive award, one of the benefits would be all the parties would feel like they were treated fairly, relative to other cases. DR. WILLIAMS: Correct. Predictability and horizontal equity. I mean, you want people -- two people that are working side by side in the same job with substantially similar circumstances to be treated similarly. That's the low odds kind of situation with our current guidelines. Well, he doesn't know that. 0 DR. WILLIAMS: I don't know that, but I would -- and I would certainly like to be reassured otherwise. I'm just saying it's an area of potential concern. You know, I think what I'm trying to do is with a lot of these discussions is to challenge you a little bit to look at areas that I think would be of concern based on our experience dealing with guidelines in other states.

26 Page 0 0 So, okay, let me then go next to a discussion of childrearing costs. Let's turn to page, if we could. There have been a variety of studies that have been performed nationally on child-rearing costs. There is not, to our knowledge, any credible child-rearing studies that have been done for any state, let alone Georgia. There may be one out there we're not aware of, but we're not aware of any. There are precious few that are done. There are precious few studies at the national level, let alone get down to the state level. The one that we find most credible and that we've been using with other states is one by Dr. David Betson that goes back now to 0. Dr. Betson was at Notre Dame University when he performed this study, and it was specifically funded by the Department of Health and Human Services under the mandate of the Family Support Act of to develop data on child-rearing costs that could be used for states in developing and updating their child support guidelines. So this is why this study was done, and we have worked closely with Dr. Betson in terms of taking his basic findings and converting them into a form that would be applicable for child support guidelines. I can go into this a little bit or a lot, but I'll just start out by going into it a little bit, and then if you have questions, I'll be happy to answer. If you look at the graph

27 Page 0 0 one page, this would be a summary of the results of his findings as they have been converted to percentages of net income. That is to say he looked at, he did estimates of the percentage of what are called family consumption expenditures that are allocated to children and then you have to go through several more steps, which we have done, with advice and counsel from him to convert them to percentages of net after tax income. If you look at these estimates, then these would be what we consider to be the best estimates, the most credible estimates of the proportion of the family net income that's spent on children. And although the study was done in 0, it's based on data now that are getting a little old, 0 to, although what we're looking at are percentages here, not absolute dollars, and we have adjusted these up to price levels. So for one child, what it's saying is that for aftertax income of zero to $,000, that's the low-income part of the range, you're looking at roughly to percent of net income that gets spent on children. For the middle part of the income range, anywhere from 0 to percent, and the high part of the income range around percent of net income. And for two children, you start at around or percent. It drops down to 0 to percent in the middle part of the income range, and then around percent at the upper part of the

28 Page income range. Yes? So your findings are that the percentages decline as the income ranges rise? DR. WILLIAMS: The percentages do decline as the income rises, yes. What did you mean by these numbers are 0 0 adjusted for inflation? DR. WILLIAMS: Just the income ranges at the bottom are adjusted for inflation because you wouldn't want to use 0 or income ranges at the bottom there. MS. CLAIBORNE: Are these the numbers for intact families? DR. WILLIAMS: These are the numbers for intact families, right. MS. CLAIBORNE: And do you have any percentage add on that you believe it costs when it becomes necessary to have two households? DR. WILLIAMS: Well, when you have two households, this is a very contentious issue. The question is do single-parent households spend more or do they spend or should they be spending more or should they be spending less on children. And then the question is, as a percentage of what. Let me back up and say why we don't try to use singleparent spending patterns to estimate what should be allocated

29 Page 0 0 in the way of child support. The basic reason is that it's irrelevant because people spend on children in accordance with their ability to spend on children. A middle-class household will spend a lot more on a child because the child's being raised to a middle-class standard of living than a household living in poverty. Single parents, by definition, they typically have a lot less income. And so if you look at what they're spending in that household, it's limited by how much money they have available. Let's think about a simple example here, and you can see why it doesn't help you a lot to know what people of singleparent households are spending, at least in my view, to come up with a child support guideline. You have situation "A" where the custodial parent has a thousand dollars a month income, and the noncustodial parent has a thousand dollars a month income. And then you have situation "B" where the custodial parent also has a thousand dollars a month income and the noncustodial parent now has $,000 a month in income. Now, you might look at those, the single parent -- and let's suppose that no child support's being paid in either case right now and you're trying to figure out how much child support should be paid. You might look at these single parents that have a thousand dollars a month coming in and a kid and you may say, okay, they're

30 Page 0 spending half that amount on the kids, so it's costing $00 a month to raise that kid. But I don't think that any one of us would look at those two situations and think that just because they're getting by with that $00 a month right now that that should be used to draw out the child support calculation for those two noncustodial parents that have dramatically different income levels. So that's why we think that using two-parent numbers are actually, is actually better, aside from the fact that you don't have the kind of problems measuring, the same kind of problems measuring child-care costs in a two-parent family because you can look at what those two parents would have spent, estimate what those two parents would have spent if the household were together and kind of portion it out based on their incomes. Is that clear? MS. CLAIBORNE: Yeah. My understanding is we were always looking 0 at family income in the first place, so even though their individual -- there are two single parents, but they're still the same family income generally. But also aren't we having to deal with increased overhead as a total reducing discretionary spending and all other facets say other than say rent, utilities, car payments, and so on. DR. WILLIAMS: Right. Exactly.

31 Page 0 In both single families. 0 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Yeah. If you go from an intact family to two single families, it's gonna cost more to maintain those two households. There's no doubt about it. So the question then is what should be the impact on the child of that split. On the one hand, you might argue that since it cost more to maintain those two households that you should reduce the amount that is spent on the child. The child should take a hit as well as the adults. On the other hand, some people have argued that it's more expensive to raise a child in a single-parent household than in a two-parent household. You have to pay more for child care if you want to go out and get any free time at all or go shopping even, there's not another parent to take care of the kids. There's a lot of additional costs that are associated with raising a kid in a single-family household, so I've heard it argued both ways, and nobody's ever figured out how to measure, you know, as a household transitions from one state to the other, how that all plays out, I guess, and what the impact of that is on spending. But some states have said, well, that's a more expensive situation, so you're gonna take your intact family estimates and you're gonna reduce them down some. But other states would maintain that, well, this situation is going to be harder on the child and so you're

32 Page 0 actually gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe take the intact family figures and even up them a little bit. So, states have gone both ways on it. Okay. So if you flip to page, what we've done is to take these child-rearing cost estimates and apply them to one specific type of situation, which is a noncustodial parent that's earning at the average level in Georgia. And just so you know what that is, average annual pay is $,00. Now, don't get this confused with median family income. What this is is this is a figure on what the average individual gets paid in a job, okay? Yes, Mark? So these numbers -- I was going to ask if this is a point estimate for family income of $,00. DR. WILLIAMS: No, it's not a point estimate of family income. It's a point estimate of -- The child-rearing costs are gonna -- according to your formula, they're going to vary -- DR. WILLIAMS: Correct. By income level. 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Correct. So just to clarify these percentages for child-rearing cost estimates, that's for a particular income level. It would not apply over a wide range.

33 Page 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Precisely. And what I was going to say was the following. That -- let me just kind of step through it, okay, and then I'll see if I answer your question adequately cause I think it will. What we're trying to do is take your ranges and apply them to what might be close to the average noncustodial parent, okay, just to see how they fall for starters. And what that says is your average person that's paying child support under the range, that they're going to be, they're going to fall within your ranges in terms of estimated child-rearing costs. However, if they are at, the lower they are, the lower the income they have -- say if you have somebody's making $,000 or $0,000 and instead of $,000, then you look at it then instead of at $,00, they would be at a higher level. They would be more like probably 0 or. I don't know what without actually working it out. What's your assumption? DR. WILLIAMS: And somebody at a higher level, somebody at a higher level -- let's say, for example, making $0,000, they would be at a lower percentage, okay? 0 What's your assumption for the custodial parent income, cause in your formula is the family -- DR. WILLIAMS: Here I'm assuming zero, okay? This is just to try to give you an idea. We didn't plot it across the whole

34 Page 0 range. But to get -- you'll see when you kind of -- when we compare it to the income shares model, that will give you a much, much -- that's give you a comparison over much broader set of circumstances, okay? But this is just kind of a starting off, okay? So, what I want to do next, then, is to compare with bordering states and essentially in the graphs that follow and the tables that follow, we've picked two states to compare you with. One is Tennessee. We picked them because they have a flat percentage of net income guideline. In other words, similar concept to what you have, but they're basing it on net income rather than gross income. DR. WILLIAMS: No. Do they do a range? Just one flat figure? 0 DR. WILLIAMS: One flat figure. Twenty-one percent for one child. I think it's for two children. Right, for two children, and so on. And then the second state we picked is North Carolina, which has an income shares model that has been updated fairly recently, and there are a couple of reasons we picked North Carolina. One is we thought that you might feel that they were somewhat comparable to Georgia in terms of demographics and so on. And secondly, they have one of the

35 Page simplest versions of income shares models that are out there, so I thought they might be kind of interesting from that point of view. Now, just to give you some idea of what else is going on around you, Florida has a net income based income shares model. It's gonna be roughly comparable to North Carolina in terms of levels of orders that are yielded. But it's also a very simple kind of model. But you didn't choose that one? 0 DR. WILLIAMS: No, we could have. I think we may have compared them. No, we didn't compare them last time. I think -- I didn't choose them -- income shares then? I don't think -- did Florida have 0 DR. WILLIAMS: They've had income shares all the way back to, yeah. We didn't choose them, but we could. It would give a very similar result to North Carolina. Then Alabama and South Carolina also have income shares guidelines, but they have been realigned a little bit so that they are a little bit lower because of the low household income in those states. MR. THOMAS: Do all these use the net income? And I guess the follow-up question on that is whether you plan to comment at some point on the net versus gross income.

36 Page 0 DR. WILLIAMS: The income shares models, the only one that uses net income is Florida. North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina, they use gross income. However, the way that we develop income shares model, while it really doesn't make much difference because all you're doing when you go from net to gross income is you build the withholding tables into the overall tables. So the Florida guidelines, you know, again we haven't plotted them here, but the Florida and North Carolina guidelines should give pretty close kinds of results. But it's different. I'll show you in a minute, but it's different, has a different impact going from net to gross income shares than it does on a percentage kind of model. Doctor, any time you want to take a 0 break -- I know it's tough to stand up there for hours at a time, just let us know. DR. WILLIAMS: Thanks. I will. I'm kind of on a roll here. It's 0 till, Denver time. MR. GILLESPIE: All I remember is that the minimum guideline is four percent of gross, is that correct? DR. WILLIAMS: Right. Some states have guidelines where they'll say, okay, if you have an arrearage, we're gonna take, automatically take percent or 0 percent of your current support order, and they kind of key off the current support

37 Page 0 0 order. But it's highly unusual for an IDO to get up to 0 or percent. I think. MR. GILLETTE: We do look at it at the child support -- if we don't, if we can't get at the gross income or there is no current support. DR. WILLIAMS: Let's see. Where was I here? Let's turn to page, and what we like to do is graph the effects of the impact of child support guidelines across a range of situations and a range of incomes. There are comparative studies that have come out that take three or four cases and compare how state guidelines fall based on three or four cases. We have, we don't like studies like that. I mean, they're okay up to a point. They're useful up to a point, but the selection of the cases and the circumstances of those cases has a huge impact on how guidelines compare. If you look at page, what we're doing here is we're comparing the impact of these three guidelines as a percentage of an obligor's net income. We're converting from gross to net using standard withholding tables here along the methodology that I've talked about before. And we're looking at the impact from $00 a month to $,000 a month, and there's kind of a bump in the middle where the scale changes at $,000 a month. And then on the left axis there you're looking at how this works

38 Page 0 0 out as a percentage of obligor income. And if you look at, say, $,00 or $,00 a month net, you'll see that these guidelines are very close, that they're within a few dollars of each other, both North Carolina and Tennessee, although their methodologies were different, will yield orders of $ a month and Georgia's at $. So that's so close that it hardly matters at that level, but one thing that I have to point out is that the North Carolina guideline is gonna be adding on for child-care expenses, and the other two are not going to be. So that's really gonna potentially affect the comparison, and that's why it's not easy to compare the impact of guidelines unless you really know what is going on. It's also gonna have, I believe, an add-on potentially for health insurance payments that would be taken into account there. So you can see in this particular example, this is assuming that the custodial parent's income is half of the noncustodial parent's income, so if the noncustodial parent is earning $,000 and the custodial parent's earning $,000 and so on. We're just kind of making this as an assumption, but we've given you graphs that are comparing the impact of guidelines where the custodial parent has zero income, and we've also given you graphs comparing guidelines where they are assumed to have equal income. Because, again, the results shift depending

39 Page 0 0 on the guideline. So what this graph suggests is for that income combination, and if we ignore the impact of child-care expenses, that all of these are quite close up to around $,000 a month. And then they start to diverge. Income shares assumes it's the income shares model. In fact, the North Carolina guideline is based directly on that graph that I showed you earlier. The estimated child-rearing costs. And estimates of child-rearing costs suggest child-rearing costs drop as a percentage of net income or gross income as income rises. So the income shares model for North Carolina shows declining child support orders as a percentage of income, not as a dollar amount, as you go past the $,000 net. Tennessee, of course, is flat all the way across. It's saying, okay, percent of net is what it is, and it doesn't matter what your income is, although I think they cut out at around $,000 a year. I don't remember exactly what their cut off is. Georgia, however, you'll see that it's taking out a larger percentage of net income as gross income increases, and that's because, of course, as your gross income goes up, the percentage of income that goes to taxes increases. So it would show, at least for the normal situation, then it would show the proportion of net income that goes to child support going up as

40 Page income goes up. Yes? Can you offer any commentary on the 0 0 appropriateness or otherwise of a guideline that has a rising percentage as net income rises? DR. WILLIAMS: Well, first of all let me just throw in a caveat. It depends on what's going on in part with the application of the ranges because if people are kind of working their way down in the ranges as income goes up, then you're not gonna see this result. We're assuming that the guidelines are being applied at the midpoint for all these comparisons, okay? However, as I think I've said before in Georgia, to the extent that you're showing levels that are above -- when you get into the higher income ranges, at least it would be our belief that your guidelines are showing amounts that would be higher than what we think are the best credible estimates of child-rearing costs, okay? At the lower parts of the range that would not be true, and it would vary according to the number of children. But if you're applying them at the midpoint, we think that there is some upward variance relative to our best estimates of child-rearing costs. What studies would corroborate a rising percentage with net income rising? What studies would corroborate that?

41 Page 0 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think you would find a study that would corroborate that. I think there are certain theories of child support that would justify that. The primary theory would be what the Wisconsin guidelines are based on and out of University of Wisconsin that suggest that child support should be treated like a tax because they want to keep it very simple, and they want it to be something that can be applied actually as a percentage. And in fact Wisconsin has a practice that we don't necessarily agree with. They actually set many of their child support orders as a percentage of income rather than as a fixed dollar amount so that -- amount of child support. Any change in income changes the DR. WILLIAMS: Correct. Correct. need for modification. Which should reduce or alleviate the 0 DR. WILLIAMS: Correct. It's a self-modification. The concept is of a self-modifying order, and there is some very good studies out of University of Wisconsin that suggest, that leads to the payment of child support over time, but it's very problematic in terms of a level of consistency for the custodial parent, and we also think that it somewhat inconveniently violates the federal law against around

42 Page modifying arrearages retroactively because you need to have -- we think, based on the Bradley Amendment, that child support has to be set as a fixed dollar amount, Bradley Amendment of. Child support has to be fixed, set as a fixed dollar amount so it can accrue as a judgment, and then those judgments are not modifiable once you go down -- Well, the problem I would have with it is that a percentage of zero is zero. DR. WILLIAMS: Yes, that's a problem, too. 0 And there's some noncustodial parents that would rather make zero than -- But you can always impute. DR. WILLIAMS: Yeah. You can always impute. This is one of those -- I think in Wisconsin, I don't remember the exact figure, but I think it's somewhere between a third and a half [TAPE ENDS]. Oh, with the -- DR. WILLIAMS: As a percentage. I want to make sure I understood correctly. 0 You're not aware of any economic study, empirical study, that comes out with the result that child costs rise as a percentage of net income as net income rises. DR. WILLIAMS: Correct. There are a number of estimates

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