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Bar News - May 15, 2009

Changes Recommended for NH Child Support Guidelines Analyzed


Every four years, the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is required to conduct an economic analysis of the child support guidelines. The analysis this year was conducted by the UNH Cooperative Extension Office. Researchers collaborated with the UNH Department of Family Studies and the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, and conducted public forums in several cities. Information also was gathered from various stakeholders, including the NH House Children and Family Law Committee, the NHBA Family Law Section, and various organizations.


The report and recommendations summary is prefaced by this statement:


“The following recommendations are intended to be considered as a package. Any separation of individual issues may impact the overall balance of effects of these recommendations on obligors and obligees. In addition, the authors stipulate that some of the recommended changes may require legislative and/or judicial involvement.”  


Recommendations, summarized:


  1. Update the Child Support guideline tables to reflect recent estimates on costs associated with raising a child, and to produce a formula that results in a consistent balanced application of the Income Shares philosophy.
  2. Increase the self-support reserve in the New Hampshire guidelines, from 100 percent to 115 percent of the federal poverty line.  The self-support reserve is currently set at the federal poverty threshold for a single person.  In calculating Guidelines, the Payor’s income that remains after paying child support, is compared to the self-support reserve to insure that he/she retains sufficient income to meet basic needs.
  3. Adopt the shared parenting adjustment currently used by Vermont to account for the additional fixed costs associated with raising a child in two homes. Once the Child Support amount has been calculated, an adjustment is made to account for the amount of time (calculated in overnight increments) the child spends with the Payor.
  4. Change the guidelines so that the costs of medical insurance and child care are deducted from both parent’s gross income on the Guidelines Worksheet, regardless of whether it is the Payor or Payee who directly pays the cost.
  5. Change the definition of the reasonable cost of health insurance to 5 percent of gross income, as suggested in the new federal guidelines, rather than the current 4 percent.
  6. Remove the cap for work-related child-care costs and revise the definition of the term “work-related” to include necessary educational and/or training associated with employment.


To access the full report, go to and click on 2009 New Hampshire Child Support Guidelines and Recommendations, Division of Child Support Services.

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