Family Law for Paralegals

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FAMILY LAW OVERVIEW PART II

Family Law - Part II
LEG400
December 10, 2011

Within this paper an overview of family law will be highlighted. The impact and state requirements by the Child Support Enforcement and Establishment of Paternity Act of 1974 will be discussed. Child support, guidelines, enforcement, duration, and tax implications will be analyzed. The difference between permanent alimony, lump-sum support, and rehabilitative support in spousal support will be examined. Classification of property, marital property division and valuation, distribution, and tax implications will be highlighted. The significance of Levy v. Louisiana and the legal framework for paternity issues will be discussed. This paper will also describe the pros and cons of artificial insemination from a sperm bank versus a known donor.

The goal of the Child Support Enforcement and Establishment of Paternity Act of 1974 is to compel absent parents to become monetarily accountable for their children. Every state is impacted by the passage of the 1974 Act and the establishment of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). OCSE is the national agency that requires each state to develop IV-D agencies within their state to oversea and administer a comprehensive child support program. These state agencies provide assistance in locating absent parents by collaborating with their own state Parent Locator Service Agency or the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) which is operated by OCSE. IV-D agencies are also required to establish and enforce child support awards; periodically review awards; and establish paternity. They must provide assistance regardless if families are receiving public assistance or not. The State IV-D agency resources must be utilized first before federal assistance can be authorized. The FPLS will then utilize an assortment of federal databases to trace the absent parent.

Child support guidelines address problems of inadequate and inconsistent awards by computing specific numeric criteria. Guidelines are designed to assist parties, lawyers, and judges in creating more consistent awards of child support but not to order exact amounts in all circumstances. States must elect an approach and decide what income is subject to the support obligation (Ehrlich, J., 2011, p. 277). Income must be defined and the relevant income base must be determined. A state may elect one out of the three guideline approaches to adopt. They may elect the percentage-of-income; income-shares; or the hybrid Melson formula approach. The benefit of the percentage-of-income approach is its ease of a flat percentage support amount of the noncustodial parent. The disadvantage of its ease is the inequitable results from multiple factors that are not considered. The theory behind the income-shares approach is the assumption that despite of the dissolution of marriage parents should continue to share the financial obligations had the family stayed together. It is criticized for ignoring the increased expenses of the custodial parent that they now have to pay and the non-economic contributions by the custodial parent to benefit the childs’(rens’) well being.

The definition of income almost always includes investment earnings, rents, profits shares, dividends, annuities, self employment, royalties, and governmental benefits, such as social security retirement and unemployment benefits (Ehrlich, J., 2011, p. 278). Imputed or attribute income concepts are recognized in the guidelines. Imputed incomes such as jewelry or antiques are considered imputed assets that do not produce income. Instead it is an attempt to shield assets from consideration in support and forms a benefit. Voluntary unemployment or underemployment will be factored into the support equation and is considered attributed income.

Support can be calculated based on gross income, adjusted gross income, or net income. The gross income base...
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