Until today, I had never considered child support enforcement as an election issue, especially with all the hot topics in this year’s presidential election. Usually issues such as the economy and the war in Iraq get all the press. However, I read a very interesting blog post from Attorney Stephen Worrall on his Georgia Family Law Blog titled Presidential Election 2008: About Child Support that discusses child support and enforcement issues in the election. Although family law matters are usually dealt with on a state level, there are family issues such as child support enforcement or abuse and neglect of a child that the federal government addresses on a national level. Knowing where each candidate stands on these kind of issues can be an important part of the decision making process.
John McCain does not have child support issues listed on his campaign or Senate website, nor has he introduced legislation regarding it. However, Senator McCain does have a lenghty voting history compiled by Attorney Worrall.
In 1988 he voted in favor of the 1988 Family Support Act, which required each state to build a single, automated system for child support collection and distribution. Eight years later he supported further changes to the child support infrastructure, which were folded into the 1996 bill that overhauled welfare. The bill pressed automation requirements further, expanded states’ authority to establish paternity and toughened enforcement measures.
McCain also was in the Senate when it passed the 1998 Child Support Performance Incentive Act with unanimous consent. It established five benchmarks for good performance on child support enforcement that states needed to meet to qualify for additional federal funding.
Barack Obama has included child support enforcement in his campaign platform and has directly spoken about issues such as responsible fatherhood. Attorney Worrall discusses a recent bill introduced by Senator Obama regarding child support enforcement:
The Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Family Act, is sponsored by Obama and Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. In addition to restoring funding, it includes provisions to promote fatherhood and healthy parenting and bars states from treating imprisonment as “voluntary unemployment.” It also ensures all collections go to families, rather than to reimburse the state for money spent on welfare payments to the custodial parent and child.