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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

New guidelines for Child Support payments go into effect

Child Support Services (ASUME) Administrator Nicole Martínez.

By The Star Staff

New guidelines to calculate child support, which went into effect last week, may reduce these payments by 20% to 30% but increase the amount of money a noncustodial parent can keep for his or her own expenses.

“These guidelines have been designed considering changes in the cost of living and the basic needs of minors. By implementing these updated guidelines, we seek to provide a more fair and transparent framework for determining noncustodial parents’ financial obligations with their children’s support,” Child Support Services (ASUME) Administrator Nicole Martínez.

The guidelines, which went into effect March 16 and had not been revised since 2014, will impact current revisions of child support in the courts even if they were filed before the guidelines came into effect, Martinez said.

“We want to emphasize that these new guidelines will apply to all cases filed as of their effective date, which is March 16, 2024. They will also apply to all cases pending adjudication,” she said.

The child support rule in force, like the one adopted in 2014, divides the pension into two parts. The first is the basic pension, which covers the basic expenses of food, transportation, clothing, entertainment, and utilities. The second is the supplemental child support, which pays for housing, education or child care, and health expenses.

Instead of considering both parents’ income, the new guidelines will only consider the income of the noncustodial parent for the basic pension. To calculate the supplemental pension, the courts must consider the income of both parents and each minor child’s expenses.

The calculation of the basic pension will consider all of the noncustodial parent’s children. This means the courts must consider that the noncustodial parent is responsible for two households rather than just one.

To calculate the basic pension, officials must take the noncustodial parent’s monthly net income and subtract the reserve, which is the amount of money the parent is allowed to keep for his expenses.

Under the 2014 rule, the reserve was fixed at $615. Now, the reserve amount will vary depending on the noncustodial parent’s monthly salary under a table of percentages established by ASUME.

The resulting amount from the subtraction is used to calculate the child support for each dependent child in proportion to the child’s age.

For instance, a noncustodial parent who makes $2,200 a month and has a five-year-old and a 12-year-old will be allowed to keep at least $1,069 for his own expenses. About $1,130 of the income will be considered for child support. The five-year-old will get $367.51 in child support, and the 12-year-old should get $390.12 monthly.

Currently, ASUME has a total of 165,851 assets in the system.

Angel Perez, a member of Creando Conciencia, noted that a noncustodial parent cannot live with a mere $615 a month, which was the amount of the reserve under the 2014 regulations. “Right now, there are parents losing their homes, their jobs,” he said. Another parent noted that one of his children gets a substantial amount of his income while two others have to survive with what he can provide because the courts did not take into account that he had three children under the child support calculations.

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