New Child Support Guidelines - Excessive Arrearages Are Not in Child's Best Interest
Attributing potential income that results in an unrealistic child support obligation may cause the accumulation of an excessive arrearage, and be contrary to the best interests of the child(ren). Research shows that on average more noncustodial parental involvement is associated with greater child educational attainment and lower juvenile delinquency. Ordering support for low-income parents at levels they can reasonably pay may improve noncustodial parent-child contact; and in turn, the outcomes for their children.
In other words, a noncustodial parent may be less likely to have contact with the child if he/she is harassed to pay back a large child support arrearage. The counter-argument is that the noncustodial parent made his/her own bed when he/she failed to pay support and now they must lie in it. By including this language the Supreme Court is not favoring custodial or noncustodial parents, but rather the children involved.
There remains plenty of opportunity for either a custodial or noncustodial parent to argue their own position with support from the guidelines and other applicable law; however, it is clear that the Supreme Court wants attorneys, judges and parents to be cognizant of the concern that high arrearages may, for whatever reason, have the effect of chilling the parent-child relationship, and this is not in the child's best interest.
For more on the policy concerns behind excessive child support arrearages click here.