Thursday, March 02, 2006

Child-support plan prompts outcry - NH

Child-support plan prompts outcry

Excerpts:

The bill would give divorced parents who pay child support credit for the time they spend with their children, reducing their payments to the primary parents. Rep. David Bickford, the bill's lone sponsor, said the state's existing child-support guidelines are a relic from the days when divorces often resulted in one parent gaining full custody of the children. The system can penalize divorced parents who have partial custody, said Bickford, a New Durham Republican.

Bickford's plan would pro-rate child support so that a parent who makes payments would owe only for the days the other parent cares for the children.

Opponents said the bill could provide the wrong motivation for divorcing parents when negotiating time with their children.

Lawmakers who oppose Bickford agree that the system is imperfect, but they say that the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act needs time to be observed before more changes are made.

"I think we need to not be so impatient," said Rep. Carolyn Gargasz, a Hollis Republican who opposed Bickford's bill on the House floor.

Bickford said his ultimate goal is to reform the New Hampshire child-support formula so that it's based on the cost of raising a child, not the income of divorced parents. Hiring the economist is the first step in that direction, he said.

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