Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/27/1995 03:05 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
  SENATE BILL NO. 116                                                          
                                                                               
       An Act  relating  to  administrative  establishment  of                 
  paternity      and  establishing  paternity   by  affidavit;                 
  relating to child   support enforcement;  and providing  for                 
  an effective date.                                                           
                                                                               
  Co-chairman  Halford directed that SB  116 be brought on for                 
  discussion and noted  that it was sponsored  by the Governor                 
  and  previously heard by both the  Senate Health, Education,                 
  and  Social Services  Committee  and  the  Senate  Judiciary                 
  Committee.      It   received   predominantly   "do    pass"                 
  recommendations in both prior committees.                                    
                                                                               
  Glenda   Straube,   Director,   Child  Support   Enforcement                 
  Division, Dept. of  Revenue, testified that the  bill allows                 
  for administrative establishment of paternity.   New federal                 
  guidelines require that  75% of all child  support audits be                 
  established  within  six months.    Paternity must  first be                 
  established before  a child support order may  issue.  Court                 
  backlogs are  taking up to  six months to  approve paternity                 
  work.  The  bill would allow administrative  paternity under                 
  the same standards used  by the court system.   Paternity is                 
  established either  by voluntary acknowledgement  or genetic                 
  testing showing a 95%  or greater chance of paternity.   Due                 
  process assurances would remain in place.  The process would                 
  allow for informal and formal  conferences and appeal to the                 
  courts.                                                                      
                                                                               
  For   an  annual  investment  of  approximately  $73.0,  the                 
  proposed bill  would allow the  division to bring  in $850.0                 
  per year in AFDC reimbursements alone.  The division cannot,                 
  at this time, comply with federal guidelines when the courts                 
  are taking up  to 6 months to  sign off on paternity.   Time                 
  needs to be shaved off the process.  The proposed bill would                 
  cure the problem, decrease the  general backlog in the court                 
  system, and reduce Dept  of Law time in preparing  for court                 
  cases.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Ms.   Straube  next  addressed   problems  which   arise  in                 
  situations wherein both the wife and  husband state that the                 
  husband is  not the father,  and a third  party acknowledges                 
  paternity.   The  State cannot,  at  this time,  accept that                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  knowledge  without going to court.   The proposed bill would                 
  allow for acceptance of an  affidavit from all three parties                 
  acknowledging  who  the  father  is.   That  will  avoid the                 
  expense of delay in filing a paternity action.                               
                                                                               
  Co-chairman  Halford posed  a  questioned regarding  genetic                 
  testing.   He asked  if the blood  test is  evaluated in the                 
  probability that 95% means for sure one is the father?   Ms.                 
  Straube  responded that most test results are in the 98%-99%                 
  range.  Statutes  specify 95% since  that is the  percentage                 
  used by the  court system.  If a father wants to contest the                 
  validity of fatherhood, he can go through  the court process                 
  and  have a blood test taken.   Ms. Straube attested to past                 
  policy which  did not  allow for  disestablish of  paternity                 
  unless  paternity is established for a third party.                          
                                                                               
  Ms. Straube reiterated  that the purpose  of the bill is  to                 
  more   quickly   resolve   cases  by   obtaining   financial                 
  information and genetic  testing.  The  effort is to  reduce                 
  the process so it is more timely for all parties.                            
                                                                               
  In response  to a question from Senator  Rieger, Ms. Straube                 
  advised  that  child  support  enforcement  consists of  170                 
  positions  with the  intent of  bringing 30  more on  board.                 
  Senator Rieger  proposed splitting  the agency  in half  and                 
  calling it by two different names: Child Support  Agency and                 
  Child Support Enforcement Agency.   The Child Support Agency                 
  would  handle  child support  orders  until payments  are in                 
  arrears.  Once  in arrears, the  person would report to  the                 
  Child  Support  Enforcement  Agency.   He  advised  that the                 
  suggestion stems  from complaints  from timely  obligors who                 
  feel  they have  been handled  like deadbeats.   Ms. Straube                 
  indicated that the  division is being reorganized  so that a                 
  client is given one person and that  person meets all his or                 
  her needs.  There are two levels of employees in this field,                 
  one of which  will be handling  the payments.  The  division                 
  was  able  to  effect  this  change  without  new  statutory                 
  language.                                                                    
                                                                               
  A question of safety was raised.  Ms. Straube acknowledged a                 
  problem with safety  and having to work  behind bullet-proof                 
  glass.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger asked if  the division has the ability  to do                 
  income withholding  orders on non-custodial parents  who are                 
  current   on   their  child   support   payments  (automatic                 
  withholding).                                                                
                                                                               
  End     Tape SFC-95, #50, Side 2                                             
  Begin   Tape SFC-95, #52, Side 1                                             
                                                                               
  There was considerable discussion  regarding genetic testing                 
  and its use  in determining paternity.   Co-chairman Halford                 
  stressed need for  availability of genetic testing to  a man                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  who has  assumed the  obligation of  payment of support  but                 
  subsequently has reason to believe he  may not be the father                 
  of the child.   It  was determined that  testimony from  the                 
  Dept  of  Law was  needed.   Continued  discussion regarding                 
  children who  have been adopted and  psychological parenting                 
  ensued.   The bill  was subsequently  held in  committee for                 
  further review.                                                              
                                                                               

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