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Congressman withdraws high-asset child support bill

Divorce is a complex process. In addition to the legal procedure that terminates the marriage, there are a large number of related issues that also need to be attended to. Property division and spousal support, for example, are common concerns, as are child custody and child support.

All of these issues can be compounded in their complexity in a high asset divorce. More assets need to be divided, more child support needs to be awarded and a potentially large amount of alimony may need to be arranged. These matters are determined by Minnesota state statute and by the discretion of our judges.

One lawmaker in our neighboring state of Wisconsin recently made national news when he attempted to alter his state's child support formula for high-asset parents. Under the proposed law, no income over $150,000 would be considered when determining child support, effectively putting a cap on the maximum child support that could be ordered in that state. The law would also require judges to modify child support agreements in the event of substantial changes in economic circumstances. Modifications to child support agreements are possible now, both in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but they are done at the judge's discretion.

The proposed law would have also retroactively modified all current child support agreements to conform to the new terms. The bill came under heavy fire, however, when it was revealed that it had been written, at least in part, by a campaign donor for the sponsoring congressman. That donor, a multimillionaire, has three children for whom he pays child support. He has tried, and failed, to get his child support payments modified in the past. The bill, if turned into law, would have automatically modified his child support for him.

The proposed law was criticized for helping one man rather than serving the needs of all of Wisconsin's families. This week, the bill was withdrawn, but the sponsoring congressman stated that he was "disappointed" by what he called "misinformation" that had damaged the bill's reputation.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal, "Republicans defend controversial child support bill" Matthew DeFour, Jan. 14, 2014

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