by R. Mark Rogers and Donald J. Bieniewicz*
Presented at the Southern Economic Association Annual Meeting,
Section for National Association of Forensic Economics
Original, November 12, 2000
With the implementation of presumptive child support guidelines by the states, is there a role for forensic economists in family court? Yes! Contrary to public perception, child support guidelines enacted, judicially implemented, or administratively implemented by the states bear little relationship to actual expenditures on children. The divergence of presumptive awards from economic-based child support obligations is significant not only for high-income situations but generally all income levels. Given that the financial stakes can be high for the parties involved and that presumptive awards do not reflect true economic costs, there clearly is a role for economists to offer an economics basis for rebutting the legal presumption. The forensic economist can then present a rational, economic-based recommendation for the child support obligation. Federal regulations require that state guidelines allow for a rebuttal of the presumptive award when the presumptive award is shown to be unjust or inappropriate and states have put such language in their guideline statutes.
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