TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: September 8, 2015
RE: Rule 8.14, N.D.R.Ct., Termination of Child Support Obligation
At its September 2014 and January 2015 meetings, the committee discussed a proposal for a rule change that would automatically discontinue a child support obligation when the obligor is awarded primary residential responsibility. The committee ultimately incorporated the proposal into a new Rule 8.14 and sent it to the Supreme Court. The Court sent the proposed new rule out for comment and, after reviewing the comments, decided to send it back to the committee. The Court requests that the committee review the comments and report back to the court with additional proposed amendments as appropriate.
The comments received by the Court are attached. To summarize:
Paulette Oberst of the Department of Human Services commented that the language used in the proposed rule about terminating "an order" if the obligor is awarded primary residential responsibility was too broad because "an order" might not be limited to only establishing a monthly support obligation. She suggested the proposal be amended to clarify that only the part of an order establishing a support obligation would be terminated. Her proposed language is included in the attached rule draft.
Attorney Arnold Fleck suggested that a new provision be added to the proposed rule that would automatically terminate child support orders when the youngest child covered by the order reaches the age of 18. He also suggested that the word "file" in the proposal be changed to "action." This suggestion has been incorporated in the attached rule draft. The committee may wish to discuss whether Mr. Fleck's suggestion that new language be added to provide for automatic termination based on age should also be incorporated into the rule.
Attorney Michael McIntee raised a concern about the use of the term "or custody" in the proposal. He suggests that the term by itself is too vague and that "placement by an appropriate government agency" be added after it. This suggestion has been incorporated into the attached rule draft. Mr. McIntee's letter also indicates that a custody change under the Uniform Juvenile Court Act might lead to a child being placed with someone other than a parent and he suggests that support payments could be suspended during this time. The committee may wish to discuss this issue.