An Overview of the Commonwealth Countries'
and United States' Procedures for
Establishing and Modifying Child Support

Executive Summary

In recent years, child support has taken on major significance to governments in other Commonwealth countries and the United States in response to a number of factors including increased government spending on social assistance programs, court backlog and a growing number of unrepresented parties attending court on their own behalf. Child support guidelines have existed for several years in these other jurisdictions.

Whereas some places have incorporated the guideline application into the existing court processes, other jurisdictions have established elaborate administrative processes to process child support cases when certain qualifying criteria are met. In most jurisdictions, the courts still exercise primary authority over family law and continue to make child support orders in many situations. In other jurisdictions, the administrative systems have taken on a more wide-ranging role in regard to child support. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the administrative child support scheme has entirely replaced the function of the courts in this area.

Accordingly, there are many potential models and variations of those models in existence for both establishing and modifying child support. This report provides an overview of some of the predominant trends throughout jurisdictions where governments have moved some of the traditionally judicially based decision-making authority over to other forums designed to be more expeditious and less costly to the parties involved.

As much as possible, attempts have been made to highlight some of the advantages and disadvantages of some of the processes existing in other jurisdictions.

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