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SB 141 Lowers Burdens on Poor Parents, Increases Child Support Obligations Less Than Cost of Living…

…and Other Number Crunching!

Senate Bill 141, the update of South Dakota child support laws delayed last month by misguided anti-child-support activists, comes before Senate Judiciary tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 8 a.m. Expect supporters to present some basic math on how SB 141 works.

I’ve run the numbers and discovered the following facts about how SB 141 affects the child support table:

  1. Two separated parents making net monthly income of $1,050 or less (that’s $12,600 or less a year) see their child support obligation drop. SB 141 decreases the child support obligation for the poorest parents of two or more children by over 70%.
  2. Since July 2009, when South Dakota last updated the child support formula, the Consumer Price Index has increased 10.73%
  3. SB 141 imposes a 10.73% increase on child support obligation on no parents making less than $22,151 a month ($265,812 per year).
    1. There are two exceptions to that statement, one based on two inverted digits in the current table, one based on two inverted digits in SB 141, which I have pointed out to Senator Rusch in hopes of a correcting amendment in committee tomorrow.
  4. The average increase across all income brackets under $20K ranges from 2.72% for parents of six children to 3.31% for parents of one child.
  5. The current table caps child support obligations beyond the $20K bracket. that means parents with monthly net of $21K, $25K, $50K, and so on have the same child support dollar obligation as parents making $20K. SB 141 raises the cap bracket to $30K.
  6. Parents making more than $20K thus see larger increases than parents making less. The average increase in monthly child support obligation for parents netting $20,001–$30,000 a month ranges from 22.29% among parents of five children to 23.01% for parents of three children.
  7. If we average figures for parents netting $2,000 or less a month ($24,000 or less a year), SB 141 lowers the share of net monthly income obliged to chld support.
    1. For parents of one child in that income range, the share drops from 24.34% of monthly net to 23.41%.
    2. For parents of three children in that income range, the share drops from 38.57% to 34.80%.
  8. Almost no parents jointly making less than $3,200 a month ($38,400 a year) see SB 141 increase their child support obligation as a share of their net income by more than half a percentage point.

As made clear in the Child Support Commission’s December 2016 report, SB 141’s changes are based on objective economic analysis. As shown by the numbers above, the new formula spares many parents the full cost-of-living adjustment that a straight reading of the Consumer Price Index would justify.


  1. Jenny 2017-02-07 06:34

    I’d have to agree with the ‘anti-child support activists’ on this one Cory. We all know wages are way too low in SD, and a man needs a living wage to support his child/children.
    These numbers are truly in the poverty range and I hope that guys are doing better than this. SD can be a very depressing place to live.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-02-07 08:15

    Jenny, I share your concern for all parents’ ability to make a living wage to support their children. The solution to that problem is to raise wages, not to mention support measures like Senator Nesiba’s paid sick leave bill, SB 96, which Republicans rejected in committee yesterday.

    Opposing SB 141 and letting inflation erode the child support table would have zero impact on wages and parents’ ability to support their children.

  3. Jesse 2017-02-07 14:32

    What if the custodial parent does not work and lives off government assistance and the non-custodial parents’ child support? Raise the non-custodial’s parent child support? Give her more reason to stay at home and do nothing?

  4. mike from iowa 2017-02-07 19:16

    This goes deeper than just child support. Sounds like some people had their feelings hurt and want revenge through the courts.

  5. Craig 2017-02-08 08:28

    Jesse whether or not a custodial parent is employed or is able to make it via child support alone doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not it costs more to raise a child today than it did eight years ago. Do you dispute that fact?

    Besides, although a lot of individuals (primarily men) paying child support like to think the other parent of their children are living off of them, that isn’t a reality very often. First, the typical support payments for one or two children wouldn’t be enough to live comfortably on, and if the parent had five or six children it likely makes more financial sense for them to stay home as opposed to paying for daycare and after school programs which would wipe out most if not all of their income.

    If parents are married, chances are they would make a decision whether or not one parent works based upon if it was a wise financial move. If they realized there was little to no benefit for one parent to work because most of their wages are gong towards childcare, then they would likely be a stay at home parent. If the parents are no longer together, why should that logic differ?

  6. Jesse 2017-02-08 09:17

    What you have to understand, is that not all situations are “typical”. I’m not going to get on a soap box and tell you all the things that are paid for outside of paying child support but I will try and put this situation in to perspective. When my ex and I split up, she moved into a house that was inspected by the state. It was deemed suitable for her and our 3 children. Little did the State know, her Dad bought the house. So the State pays her rent, which in turn goes to her Dad which makes his mortgage payment. So in reality, the taxpayers (you and I) are buying his house. I pay $1000/month child support. She has no rent. The State pays her electricity bill in the winter. Her car and insurance is in her folks name (she has no assets). Her phone is paid by her folks. She has to pay water/garbage ($50-$60/month) and she has Netflix ($15/month). So in all, she has less than $100 in bills per month. That gives her $900 tax free money every month. I forgot to mention, the State gives her $792/month in food stamps. All 3 of my kids are in school. So Craig, should she work? Can she live comfortably? Everything is given to her!!! Do you think she is being a good role model for my kids. “Mommy has money and she don’t work”? She smokes, drinks, gets her hair and nails done and wears designer clothing with money that is meant for my children? I could go on and on but “typical” doesn’t belong here especially when you want to raise MY child support.

  7. Craig 2017-02-08 14:45

    Jesse the guidelines and legislation cannot possibly take every possible scenario into account. The bottom line is the CPI has increased almost 11% since the last time the child support payment tables were updated and therefore it stands to reason that since it costs more to raise a child today than it did in 2009 it makes sense to update the tables once more.

    Whether your former in-laws help your ex or not has little to do with the cost to actually raise a child. The fact you happen to know (or think you know) every possible expense your ex may have right down to who pays for what and how much her Netflix is costing her suggests you may be a tad too concerned about her finances. What you should care about is how well your kids are being taken care of. Are they fed, do they have proper clothing, are they healthy…. that is what matters.

    Stop worrying about how your ex is spending her money as it honestly isn’t any of your business UNLESS your children aren’t being taken care of. If they are – then you should be grateful as many parents aren’t so lucky.

  8. Jesse 2017-02-08 14:50

    WTF!!!!! “Stop worrying about how your ex is spending HER money!!?!??!!?!?” Are you a fool??? That is my kids’ money you moron!!! I know because I have to help her out with bills because she don’t know how to manage money. I have paid her water bill because it got shut off!!!! My children are being taken care of because I give them everything I have. Why am I even answering you. You know nothing….your a damn idiot!!!!!

  9. mike from iowa 2017-02-08 17:29

    When my ex and I split up, she moved into a house that was inspected by the state. It was deemed suitable for her and our 3 children. Little did the State know, her Dad bought the house. So the State pays her rent, which in turn goes to her Dad which makes his mortgage payment. So in reality, the taxpayers (you and I) are buying his house.

    So what? Who owns the house is irrelevant. Be nice if her folks let her live there rent free, but the state is willing to pay them, I suppose they are willing to take it. You sound like you have extreme anger problems and you should seek help for them. Life isn’t fair and you sound like a control freak. Just saying.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-02-08 19:28

    Jesse, opposing SB 141 isn’t going to solve your concerns about your wife spends money that she is legally entitled to spend.

    Mike, I agree, the opposition to SB 141 feels very much like emotional, personal control-freakery. Hmmm… maybe that’s why those marriages broke up in the first place.

    But I’m here to make policy, not delve into everyone’s personal lives. The cost of living has gone up. The state’s child support calculations should go up to reflect that objective, economic, impersonal fact.

  11. Craig 2017-02-09 08:32

    Jesse: “WTF!!!!! “Stop worrying about how your ex is spending HER money!!?!??!!?!?” Are you a fool??? That is my kids’ money you moron!!!”

    You have no idea where your ex might be getting all of her money, and based upon your obsession about how she spends it I don’t blame her for not telling you. But yes Jesse, it is her money. Some of that money may originate from you, some may originate from her family, some might originate from her selling items on eBay or donating plasma… but unless your kids are being mistreated or are not cared for it isn’t any of your business if she spends $15 a month on Netflix or if she gets her nails done.

    Again, what you should care about is whether or not your kids are taken care of, that they have a warm bed at night, that they are healthy, and that they don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. By your own words it appears that is the case, yet you worry about her wearing “designer” clothes.

    With such obsession over her finances and how quickly you lash out with insults and anger, why am I not surprised she is your EX-wife?

    Jesse: “your a damn idiot!!!!!”

    The irony writes itself.

    In any case, your rant aside, this still isn’t about you. This is about the cost of living going up, and the cost of providing for a child going up. That is what this legislation is designed to do. It doesn’t care that you are bitter towards your ex or are looking for ways to minimize your obligations to your kids. It doesn’t care that you couldn’t make a relationship work. It doesn’t care that you have a tendency to overuse punctuation when you get angry. The only thing this bill does is admit that it costs more to raise a child today than it did 8 years ago. Those are the facts, and that is why cheapskates try to shift the subject to their personal struggles or perceived injustices because they are incapable of seeing things from a macro view and are only able to see things in selfish terms.

  12. Jenny 2017-02-09 09:36

    Jesse, if her water bill got shut off and she has kids in the house living with her, maybe you should call up social services. Or maybe fight for full custody if you’re worried about where the money is going.
    So your ex is not working and getting the food stamps and Section 8 housing? Hey people, this mom should be working. Report her to the state, Jesse if she working the system. Just because she has a pack of kids doesn’t mean she can sit back and let the gubmint and Jesse take care of money for her.

    Jesse has a right to be upset. Wages have NOT caught up with the cost of living, especially in notorious low wage SD. I can see both sides of this issue and a divorce/split with children involved is always a difficult stressful situation.
    Maybe form a dad’s support group. Having a support group with individuals in the same situations can be beneficial. Call your legislators, both in Washington and Pierre and let them know your personal situation.

  13. Jenny 2017-02-09 09:46

    One bit of wisdom that I remember to this day that my mom always told me is to “choose wisely” when dating and pondering marriage or having children with a man. This advice is for guys too. Choose wisely and always use birth control if you don’t want to get stuck in situations like this. (Don’t listen to the Catholic church)

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