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Child-support bill close to approval

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A child-support overhaul is now only one vote from final approval, despite continued concerns from noncustodial parents and some lawmakers.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved SB23, sponsored by Sen. Greg Bell, R-Farmington. The bill updates the state's child-support guidelines for the first time since 1994, increasing monthly support amounts nearly across the board and extending the tables for those parents who make more than $10,000 a month.

Those opposed to SB23 maintain the new tables are based on bad data and will put too much financial strain on parents who pay child support.

"Divorce is bad enough, but bankruptcy is worse and that's what this drives," former state representative Chad Bennion testified Wednesday.

South Salt Lake resident Craig Berntson agreed, saying many noncustodial parents will have to find second jobs, reducing the time spent with their children.

"This bill will actually be detrimental to the child by reducing noncustodial parent time," Berntson said.

Proponents of the measure say the update is long overdue and custodial parents are now being required to bear the burden of the Legislature's failure to act in past years.

"This Legislature is having to play catch-up" said Rep. Roz McGee, D-Salt Lake. "I think it's time that we do that and it is a significant change, but we're trying to take a chunk at once."

SB23 received a 10-2 vote Wednesday morning. It will now go to the full House for consideration. The state Senate previously approved the measure with a vote of 26-3.