I. Welcome and Introductions
The meeting was called to order at 1:30 pm.
II. Review of Minutes – 07/28/17 Meeting
Mr. Stephen Harris moved to approve as corrected (spelling) the minutes from the July 28, 2018 meeting.
Judge Lisa Jones seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
III. Old Business
A. Related to SB 137
1. Multiple Worksheets – Go back to original language?
a. Checklist for Multiple Worksheets
b. Income Deduction Orders
c. Child Support Supplements
d. Superior Court Rules 24.11 and 24.12
Ms. Pat Buonodono stated that the feedback received regarding the requirement of filing multiple worksheets has been mostly negative. She created a checklist to help litigants navigate the stepdown process because there are several things to consider such as health insurance, work related child care, preexisting orders, and the age of other qualified children. It also creates confusion in the income deduction process and the question of when a child is no longer qualified for child support, particularly when that event is far in the future. Child support addenda are implemented usually at a county level and they will also need amendments to provide for step downs. Lastly, the statute currently instructs the custodial parent is responsible for serving the income deduction process but they will have no incentive to provide paperwork in the distant future for a decrease in child support. A question was raised about whether the stepdown info would already be provided to employers in the order but additional paperwork like the federal IWO form and notice to payor have to be served as well.
Representatives from Atlanta Legal Aid brought concerns about complicating matters for pro se litigants as well as creating a liability for custodial parents for overpayment. Other concerns are for domestic violence survivors having to serve their abusers farther down the road.
After discussion, it was determined that the intention of the bill was to provide judicial discretion for cases with children imminent to aging out and that the current bill should reflect such.
Judge LaGrua asked Senator Emanuel Jones about the best way to ensure that the bill passes with the intended language to which Senator Jones responded that having sponsors in both parties who are well informed about the intention of the bill would be the most crucial aspect so that it can be effectively communicated when and if changes are attempted to be made in committee.
On October 3, 2017 an electronic vote was taken for the approval of the concepts discussed at this meeting and contained with LC 29 7649 attached hereto as addendum. The Committee voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
B. DHS/OCSE Final Rule
Mr. Stephen Harris presented his suggested language regarding the final rule at the July 28, 2017 meeting and stated that DHS is still going through its legislative process which begins with the Governor’s Office and getting their insight and approval on the concepts.
C. Revise O.C.G.A. § 19-6-51 to include an administrative judge on the Commission
Ms. Pat Buonodono stated she spoke with the appointments secretary at the Governor’s Office about adding an administrative law judge to the commission. However, she was advised it would likely have to wait for the next Governor. Ms. Buonodono also stated that a new appellate level judge is needed on the
Commission since Judge Branch’s resignation due to being elevated to the federal court. The appointment secretary is asking for suggestions.
D. Changing the makeup of the Commission
B. Training Schedule
IV. New Business
Ms. Pat Buonodono asked the committee to revisit the question brought previously by Judge Robert Leonard of Cobb County as to whether alimony deviation means alimony from one parent to the other parent of the child for which support is being determined or whether it is from another, previous marriage. Ms. Katie Connell did seek input from previous committee and commission members as to the intent of the inclusion of the alimony deviation. No firm answer was received but it was likely one of two reasons – 1) It was carried over from one of the model guidelines without much consideration, or 2) It was a hot button issue with one of state legislators so it was included. No clear decision was reached by the committee and the item was tabled until more input could be gained from other judges.
A. Also related to SB 137
1. Complaints about parenting time deviation change
Mr. Wayne Slear expressed his concern about the basic child support obligation table not having the expense of the noncustodial parents parenting time built into it. Ms. Pat Buonodono stated that at one point in time standard visitation was to be built into the obligation but it doesn’t appear to have happened.
Also there was intended to be a parenting time formula but it was scrapped due to mass confusion and legislature at the time not being able to decide what constituted a day of parenting time. A quadrennial review is being held this year and public input will be considered at which time it is possible to address
this issue. Mr. Slear argued that an upward deviation would then be unjust if the custodial parent is already receiving 100 percent credit for the expense in the obligation table.
2. Possible change to definition of “final child support order” to be “final child support amount.”
Many instances in the statute it says “final child support order” where it actually means final child support amount. These instances have been corrected in the draft legislation.
3. Rounding within BCSO Table
Before the meeting began, this item was determined to be a nonissue and not addressed at the meeting.
V. Schedule Next Meeting
The next meeting will be scheduled at a later time.
Meeting adjourned at 3:03 pm.