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Controversial child support bill receives harsh criticism

Here in Illinois and across the country, the laws governing child custody and child support change and shift from year to year, as state lawmakers work to adapt our laws to a changing society and seek out better ways to serve the interests of the child. Most of these new laws are incremental and enter the law books without much public notice. A recent child support bill in another state, however, recently garnered national attention.

The bill was created in the Wisconsin state legislature by a single representative. Ostensibly, the bill seeks to equalize the rights of the sexes in child support disputes. Some observers, however, have noticed a supposed ulterior motive in the wording of the new bill.

The bill puts a cap on the amount of child support that can be awarded in any given situation. If the bill were made into law, any income over $150,000 would be exempted from consideration when calculating child support. It would also alter many current child support agreements that do not fit the new standard.

Sources were quick to point out that the bill appeared to have been written by one of the representative's campaign contributors, a multimillionaire who had given several thousand dollars to the politician's election campaign. The millionaire is divorced with three children, and recently tried and failed to have his child support payments reduced from $15,000 per month to $4,109. The man says his income has dropped sharply in recent years.

In legal terms, the man attempted a child support modification - an attempt made with the assistance of an attorney to change the terms of a child support agreement. The Wisconsin bill would have made it easier for people to receive modifications in the future.

The bill is now accused of serving "one man" and not the public as a whole. The representative who sponsored the bill, however, vowed to change it to remove the retroactive alterations clause, and asked the public to view the bill on its merits alone and not as a reflection of its writer.

Attorneys and judges are bound to obey the laws that our lawmakers create. It is up the American public, then, to ensure that these laws continue to serve the best interests of the child. Every piece of child support legislation deserves to be read and considered, as every bill has the power to effect thousands of families, both in the present and in the future.

Source: The Wisconsin State Journal, "Republicans defend controversial child support bill" Matthew DeFour, Jan. 13, 2014

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