South Carolina Supreme Court’s Suspension of Family Court Rule 24 for Title IV-D Cases

Posted Sunday, July 29th, 2012 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Child Support, Contempt/Enforcement of Orders, Family Court Procedure, Of Interest to Family Court Litigants, Of Interest to Family Law Attorneys, South Carolina Specific

Two different family law attorneys have asked–nay demanded–that I blog about the July 19, 2012 South Carolina Supreme Court Administrative Order suspending application of South Carolina Family Court Rule 24 as it relates to the review and enforcement of Title IV-D child support payments paid through the clerk of court.  This suspension is based upon an Action Transmittal dated June 18, 2012 from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement to all state agencies administering child support enforcement plans under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.  That Action Transmittal discusses the procedural components required for enforcing child support obligations in compliance with the United States Supreme Court decision in Turner v. Rogers, 564 U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 2507 (2011).

Turner found South Carolina’s procedures for enforcing child support failed to comport with due process.  Such a conclusion didn’t surprise me as it was a issue I had previously written and lectured on.  Without denying that the state needs a method for collecting child support, the defacto reinstitution of debtor’s prison in the guise of using civil contempt sanctions was an open and notorious civil rights violation that, excepting a few “fathers’ rights” organizations, no one seemed bothered by. Anecdotally none of my family law colleagues indicate that Turner changed the way family court judges employ incarceration as a method of enforcing support orders.  I presume this Action Transmittal is intended to force DSS to develop constitutionally-adequate procedures for enforcing child support.

Sadly, this Supreme Court order does not apply to all support enforcement proceedings and it leaves many custodial parents without a remedy to collect child support.  States have had over a year to develop procedures that comport with Turner.  My pre-Turner criticism of South Carolina’s child support enforcement procedures noted with approval a Florida court rule that addressed the constitutional violations Turner confirms existed within South Carolina’s enforcement procedures.  Too bad South Carolina didn’t use the past year to develop similar rules.

4 thoughts on South Carolina Supreme Court’s Suspension of Family Court Rule 24 for Title IV-D Cases

  1. Linda says:

    I have only had one case with a Greenville Judge wherein he would not incarcerate the pro se Defendant because she was not “on notice” of Turner, i.e., that her ability to pay was at issue. Now I serve a copy of the case with the Rule and ask them to be prepared to produce relevant income information. If we know where they are working, I always subpoena such records prior to the hearing if there is sufficient time.

  2. Giovanni LoPresti says:

    It is my opinion that the State of New Jersey, by and through its Family Court Judges, Probation Officials and Armed Law Enforcement Officials are engaged in a debt collection business for a profit. The State’s child-support enforcement program at issue in the case, like that in every other State, is part of one of the largest cooperative federal-state programs, established under the Social Services Amendments of 1974 (1975 Act), Pub. L. No. 93-647, § 101(a), 88 Stat. 2351 (42 U.S.C. 651 et seq.) (adding Title IV-D to the Social Security Act).
    Operating without citizen oversight and with the backing of the Federal Government, State Judges, Probation Officials and Armed Law Enforcement Officials, ruthlessly pursue the collection of a Civil Money Judgment Debts, with a blatant disregard for the State & Federal Constitutions, ethics, liberty, due process and fundamental fairness. The State receives $2.00 for each dollar they collect from a citizen, plus other incentives from the Federal Government. This has created a situation whereby the State’s debt collection officials have a direct personal financial interest to generate revenue on all Civil Money Judgments that concern Child Support.

    As a citizen, I would have to view this as conflict of interest, or at least an appearance of impropriety. Furthermore, there is no doubt that a citizen appearing before a Family Court Judge can reasonably and logically rationalize this would impair their objectivity and judgment. This joint cooperation expands the power of a Family Court Judge and represents one of the most significant threats to civil liberties in U.S. history. This joint cooperation eliminates checks and balances which had been the difference between the free world and the suppressed. Regrettably, a citizen can no longer look to the courts to ensure these powers are not abused.
    The State’s collection tactics has caused duress and misery for countless citizens. The State has granted their debt collection officials with unlimited bureaucratic power with fascist-like tendencies. The State employs staff that have an underlying contempt for constitutional rights in our society and who wish to cause pain on our citizens for falling behind a debt on Civil Money Judgment. Their ability to initiate arrest warrants for a Civil Money Judgment, regardless of whether a citizen is in financial distress, has turned a normal law abiding citizen into criminals, wrecked lives and in some cases have driven a citizen to suicide. As a citizen, I am shocked and appalled to find out my tax dollars are being diverted to the States to put them in debt collection business for a profit. As a citizen, I can now conclude and without a shadow of a doubt, that Child Support Enforcement is about children and making a profit.
    As of 1998, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee admitted, “Most States make a profit on their child support program.” The committee also noted, “States are free to spend this profit in any manner the State sees fits.” [Committee Report, page 596] It is undisputed that federal incentive payments to the States under a Social Security program, pays two dollars for every dollar collected by the State for State-imposed child support orders. 42 U.S.C. §658(a) (5)(C) (i)
    The law further provides in part, the following incentives:
    Sec. 458. [42 U.S.C. 658a] (a) In General.—In addition to any other payment under this part, the Secretary shall, subject to subsection (f), make an incentive payment to each State for each fiscal year in an amount determined under subsection (b).
    (b) Amount of Incentive Payment.—
    (1) In general.—The incentive payment for a State for a fiscal year is equal to the incentive payment pool for the fiscal year, multiplied by the State incentive payment share for the fiscal year.
    (2) Incentive payment pool.—
    (A) In general.—In paragraph (1), the term “incentive payment pool” means—
    (i) $422,000,000 for fiscal year 2000;
    (ii) $429,000,000 for fiscal year 2001;
    (iii) $450,000,000 for fiscal year 2002;
    (iv) $461,000,000 for fiscal year 2003;
    (v) $454,000,000 for fiscal year 2004;
    (vi) $446,000,000 for fiscal year 2005;
    (vii) $458,000,000 for fiscal year 2006;
    (viii) $471,000,000 for fiscal year 2007;
    (ix) $483,000,000 for fiscal year 2008; and
    (x) for any succeeding fiscal year, the amount of the incentive payment pool for the fiscal year that precedes such succeeding fiscal year, multiplied by the percentage (if any) by which the CPI for such preceding fiscal year exceeds the CPI for the second preceding fiscal year.
    (B) CPI.—For purposes of subparagraph (A), the CPI for a fiscal year is the average of the Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period ending on September 30 of the fiscal year. As used in the preceding sentence, the term “Consumer Price Index” means the last Consumer Price Index for all-urban consumers published by the Department of Labor.
    (3) State incentive payment share.—In paragraph (1), the term “State incentive payment share” means, with respect to a fiscal year—
    (A) the incentive base amount for the State for the fiscal year; divided by
    (B) the sum of the incentive base amounts for all of the States for the fiscal year.
    (4) Incentive base amount.—In paragraph (3), the term “incentive base amount” means, with respect to a State and a fiscal year, the sum of the applicable percentages (determined in accordance with paragraph (6)) multiplied by the corresponding maximum incentive base amounts for the State for the fiscal year, with respect to each of the following measures of State performance for the fiscal year:
    (A) The paternity establishment performance level.
    (B) The support order performance level.
    (C) The current payment performance level.
    (D) The arrearage payment performance level.
    (E) The cost–effectiveness performance level.
    (5) Maximum incentive base amount.—
    (A) In general.—For purposes of paragraph (4), the maximum incentive base amount for a State for a fiscal year is—
    (i) with respect to the performance measures described in subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) of paragraph (4), the State collections base for the fiscal year; and
    (ii) with respect to the performance measures described in subparagraphs (D) and (E) of paragraph (4), 75 percent of the State collections base for the fiscal year.
    (B) Data required to be complete and reliable.—Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the maximum incentive base amount for a State for a fiscal year with respect to a performance measure described in paragraph (4) is zero, unless the Secretary determines, on the basis of an audit performed under section 452(a)(4)(C)(i), that the data which the State submitted pursuant to section 454(15)(B) for the fiscal year and which is used to determine the performance level involved is complete and reliable.
    (C) State collections base.—For purposes of subparagraph (A), the State collections base for a fiscal year is equal to the sum of—
    (i) 2 times the sum of—
    (I) the total amount of support collected during the fiscal year under the State plan approved under this part in cases in which the support obligation involved is required to be assigned to the State pursuant to part A or E of this title or title XIX; and
    (II) the total amount of support collected during the fiscal year under the State plan approved under this part in cases in which the support obligation involved was so assigned but, at the time of collection, is not required to be so assigned; and
    (ii) the total amount of support collected during the fiscal year under the State plan approved under this part in all other cases.

    1. joy lucas says:

      How can I get help with threats of incarceration for non payment of child support along with medical and college expenses. i have had no income for years due to my business failing. My children are now 19 and 21. My daughter has medical bills and I may be ordered to pay for them forever… Can anyone give me a consult by email?

  3. Melissa Burkett-neville says:

    What can i do if the state has made up arrears to heyo ne in the system. Has not been fourth coming with these amounts aaaaand and refunded me money. Taken away six thousand dollars from said debt and now and have been holding payments from me illegally.
    Now i Mysteriously have NO CASE with the child support devision as of today according to their system, is what i’m being told. Yet i had one last week abs the world system says i have one!

    I can’t find a lawyer. Im dying from the tears of stress!
    Is anyone out there?

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