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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Child support guideline Panel for Sept 20 postponed

Fathers For Virginia Note About CS Review Panel The next meeting of the Virginia Child Support Guidelines Review Panel that had been scheduled for September 20 has been postponed. Although the panel's website does not yet (Sunday afternoon) reflect the change, Fathers For Virginia representatives were told on Friday that the September 20 meeting would not take place. The next meeting of the panel is likely to be on November 5 in Richmond. We will update you as soon as we know, but we were told on Friday that Dr. Jane Venohr, the Review Panel's economist, is likely to present a report at the November 5 meeting. Her report will contain specific recommendations for new child support amounts to be incorporated in the statutory CS guidelines. On another issue, we had understood that the panel's report on the issue would be finalized in time for the 2013 legislative session. However, we were told on Friday that the report is to be finalized in time for the 2014 legislative session. This timetable clearly gives us more time for comments. The new timetable does not diminish the importance of continued participation by fathers in the Review Panel's meetings. From what we were told on Friday, it seems unlikely that we will get enough time to study Dr. Venohr's report before the November 5 meeting, but we will have opportunities at later Panel meetings to offer our comments. For more general background on the situation, see the Review Panel's website Check out the minutes to be found in the Meetings section of the website. In particular, look at the minutes of the last meeting, on June 12, 2012. They indicate the direction in which the panel is going. FFV Representatives testified at the previous meeting, on November 16, 2011. Some of the major issues for FFV are in testimony by FFV President Fred Hawkins ( and by me ( For those of you who didn't attend the September 8 meeting in Springfield, the following are the major points that were made during the meeting: We have a good opportunity at the present time to raise fathers' issues. There is great concern in Richmond about the costs to taxpayers of fragile families, which Social Services Commissioner Martin Brown says were about $2.4 billion in 2011. Brown seems aware that some government programs have unintentionally created incentives for single-parent families. FFV representatives have stressed that raising child support figures is one way of increasing the incentives for single-parent families. Despite the general impression that the custody situation in Virginia is now more or less gender-neutral, the statistics indicate that this is emphatically not so. Division of Child Support Enforcement statistics show that, as of October 2011, 93.39 percent of custodial parents were female and only 6.23 percent of custodial parents were male. Wholesale discrimination against fathers continues. Fathers must tell the CS Review Panel that it should not go further down this road by recommending increases in amounts of child support, which overwhelmingly is paid by fathers. The current guidelines should be revised to remove the present 90-day limit above which there is no recognition of the noncustodial parent's expenses in caring for his children. A computer program to calculate CS amounts is in widespread use throughout Virginia. The availability of this computer program (VADER --Virginia Attorneys' Divorce Electronic Reference) removes earlier objections that substitution of a sliding scale for the 90-day limit (the so-called "cliff effect") would make CS calculations too complex. There are signs that Commissioner Brown's views about the importance of two-parent families are filtering through to the Division of Child Support Enforcement. DCSE is one of the agencies under his control. For example, DCSE is considering ending the Ten Most Wanted list of noncustodial parents who are delinquent in child support. The DCSE background notice on this proposal says, among other things: "In addition, with the Commonwealth’s increased focus on strengthening families, it is not appropriate to embarrass or humiliate child support obligors and their families, especially since many of the individuals on the lists were those who were unable to pay rather than those who were unwilling to pay. This sort of enforcement tool does not encourage noncustodial parents to pay support and, in fact, may serve as a disincentive." FFV has written to DCSE supporting this proposal. We will try to keep you updated on these issues. Meantime, cancel any plans you have made to attend the September 20 meeting in Richmond! Kenneth Skilling September 16, 2012