PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — An updated child-support payment schedule for parents has survived its first hearing at the South Dakota Legislature.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-6 Wednesday to endorse the plan that runs 50 pages. HB 1278 now heads to the full 70-member House for debate, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon.
Supporting the plan were representatives Doug Barthel, R-Sioux Falls; Ryan Cwach, D-Yankton; Sue Peterson, R-Sioux Falls; Peri Pourier, D-Pine Ridge; Taylor Rehfeldt, R-Sioux Falls; Rebecca Reimer, R-Chamberlain; and Mike Stevens, R-Yankton.
Opposing it were representatives Aaron Aylward, R-Harrisburg; Scott Odenbach, R-Spearfish; Tom Pischke, R-Dell Rapids; Bethany Soye, R-Sioux Falls; Tamara St. John, R-Sisseton; and chairman Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids.
The House will also debate a companion measure, HB 1279, that makes various changes in South Dakota’s child-support laws.
“It affects a lot of parents, obviously, as well as kids,” said Stevens, a lawyer who served as the House’s member on South Dakota’s commission. He added, “I think it cleared up some hitches along the way.”
South Dakota uses both parents’ incomes to determine how much support a child should receive.
Federal law requires states to review child support every four years. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed South Dakota’s commission. The Legislature last adopted a different schedule in 2016.
Pischke, who pays child support and participated in the commission’s meetings last year, tried to amend a current law that provides a 38% reduction each month that the non-custodial parents has the child for at least 10 nights that month. Pischke wanted to reduce the minimum to six nights.
But, Stevens said, when one thing is changed, “a lot” of other things also need to be changed. “Those percentages have been in the (state) code a long time,” he said. Pischke said he likely would support the package if his amendment passed. Hansen ruled it failed on a voice vote.
Pischke said a national group gave South Dakota an F-plus grade for child-support laws. He said the support obligation for two parents making $70,000 apiece would rise to 25% of the non-custodial parent’s income under the revised schedule from the current 19%.
Comparing that to a comparable increase in property taxes, Pischke said, “A lot of us would be raising holy-heck.”
But Stevens said that his clients tell him they can’t buy as much as they did in 2016. “So we’re trying to bring it up five years,” he said.
Pischke offered a different perspective. “Inflationary increase — those happen to both parents,” he said. “Those have to be in consideration as well.”