The state's new child-support guidelines, which apply to all divorce, separation and paternity cases, takes effect Sunday and apply only to cases filed afterward.
The guidelines are advisory to all eight district courts in the state, which means the judge is not required to use them in setting child-support awards.A 17-member Child Support Task Force developed the guidelines over a one-year period. The task force held a series of public hearings statewide in April, revised the guidelines based on public testimony and presented its report to the Judicial Council in June.
The council adopted all of the task force's recommendations. However, it made the guidelines advisory instead of presumptive, which would have required a judge to specify reasons for deviating.
The guidelines call for child-support payments to be based on the income of the natural parents, and age of the children. They also take into consideration extended visitation, child-care expenses and split custody situations.