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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Shared Parenting Initiative takes a hit

My estimate of the North Dakota Shared Parenting Initiative's chances of passing in November just went from slightly favorable to markedly unfavorable. That's because of this op-ed in today's Herald by Carol Olson, executive director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services.

Olson is unequivocal: "If the measures pass, the state could not certify that its programs meet federal requirements, and North Dakota would lose about $71 million in federal money for those programs during the 2007-2009 biennium."

Olson refers to "the measures," but the only measure that has garnered enough signatures to likely make it onto the ballot is Mitch Sanderson's (www.ndspi.org). Here is Clause # 3 of the initiative, whose full text is available at the above Web site:

"Child support payments and allocation of child support obligations will be determined according to the parenting plan, and will not be greater than the actual cost of providing for the basic needs of the child(ren)."

That's the problem, Olson says. The idea behind the clause is to make child-support payments depend more on what the child needs and less on what the non-custodial parent earns. But "federal law requires courts or administrative agencies, as neutral third parties, to determine child support using state guidelines that must be based, in part, on a percentage of all of a noncustodial parent's income," Olson writes.

Then she offers this quote: "Due to the gravity of the consequences that may result, we urge you to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that initiated measures are not enacted that would render the state's statutes out of compliance with the federal law." That's from a letter to a North Dakota state senator by Thomas Sullivan, regional administrator of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Will North Dakotans approve a measure that would result in such a big cutoff of federal funds? I don't think so ... and I'm guessing the initiative's supporters are preparing a response even as you read this. They'll need a good one.

18 Comments:

Blogger Peder Rice said...

Money or equality? Tough question of values here.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I agree with Peder.

Tom, what Carol left out in her thoroughly one-sided accounting of the situation is that if ND custody laws are found in violation of federal standards (something that's still open for debate, as far as I'm concerned) North Dakota would only lose a small percentage (something like 1%) of the funding each year until we are in compliance.

If we pass this law and for some reason North Dakota does fall out of compliance we are not going to lose $71 million in fudning. That's just hysteria talking.

At most we'll lose a percentage of that. If tweaks are needed to get back to full funding the legislature can fix that later.

Please, please please don't make up your mind on this based on the one-sided assesment of a career bureaucrat who is more interested in protecting her funding than equality of law.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous johnboy said...

Tom, I thought you had more of an open mind than that. How can you read a one-sided letter and be totally convinced by it to write a response like you did on your blog? I'm not sure how I feel about this issue, but I am not going to be swayed to one side by a biased piece of propaganda.

4:20 PM  
Blogger The Whistler said...

That seems like a pretty big stretch to say that a limitation would affect that law.

"determine child support using state guidelines that must be based, in part, on a percentage of all of a noncustodial parent's income,"

How exactly is that out of step. I'm pretty sure that you can come up with a formula that's based on a percentage while not exceeding how much it costs to raise a child.

I really have to question the motivation of someone who's going to object to limiting child support to a 100% reimbursement.

Why should the custodial parent profit from being granted custody? I'm sure it's not either parent who's looking at this as a business opportunity.

On the other hand if I understand it right the state DOES get more money if they get higher support payments.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe LOTS of us regular North Dakota Guy non-custodial fathers that know the current system is inequatable and not as beneficial as it should be to our children. However, I/we find it hard to get behind a person or process that appears too radical or extremest. We don't want to be associated with an extremest view.

I am afraid the the message and intent may have been lost or mutated beyond benefit due to the current approaches.

We need to reform out current system, but we need a good plan and a good message. I have not decided if the current initiative is a good idea or not, I'll read and decide. I won't decide based solely on the opinion of a beaurocrat, or the proponents.

10:52 AM  
Blogger jim said...

Carol Olson and Thomas Sullivan are liars. But what do you expect from a couple of foxes stealing from tax payers. They would rather promote single parenthood and ensure that children have only one parent.

I think they have earned a pink slip and can step into the unemployment line.

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY... LOSE THIS LOSE THAT... WHO GIVES A FLYING f**k WHAT EVERYONE ELSE LOSES. WHAT IS THE CHILD LOSING? WHAT HAS THE CIHLD ALREADY LOST AS A DIRECT RESULT OF THE CURRENT LAWS? QUIT THINKING OF YOURSELVES, ANS TRY THINKING ABOUT WHATS BETTER FOR THE CHILD?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Custody and support laws stink. Equal rights for all parents and children! Current laws in most states take these rights away from fathers and children. I am a father in a shared parenting arranged and I thank God everyday for the strenght it took to fight the court system, in what should have been an automatic right. Becuause of an income disparity (which my ex-wife quick college as soon the divorce started) I pay support - and I still need to provide shelter, food, clothing ... for over 50% of the time that I spend with the children - I am ordered to pay 75% less the first $100 for medical needs (which I have paid 100% since my ex-wife will not be actively involved in anything that involes paying for anything for the children) and I pay 100% of all activities, school fees and needs ... My ex-wife shops at Goodwill for the childrens's clothes while in her care - but she shops at department stores for her clothes Support system flaws allow for legally taking money away - this money could actually be used for the children! The laws across the country need changed. The best set of laws I have seen yet are from Oregon! Clean up your state laws the children are crying for you to do so - From Ohio - I wish you all luck. These law flaws across this great country are need addressed. Also - take a look at Indiana Civil Liberties Union - class action lawsuit involving most states and these equal rights for parents including support issues - enough is enough. It is not just about money and the fathers who are being forced out childrens lives - it is about the CHILDREN - the future of this country!!!

Good luck in November!!!

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