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Recent Child Support Law Passed in Nebraska Supports Children

Recent Child Support Law Passed in Nebraska Supports Children

The Nebraska Legislature took action this year to ensure that child support funds collected by the state were used to support Nebraska’s lowest income families. 

Historically, the federal government has provided financial assistance through the “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TANF) program. This federal program has been administered by the State of Nebraska through its “Aid to Dependent Children” (ADC) program. ADC consists of direct payments to families with minor children to pay for necessary family expenses such as rent, utilities, food, clothing, and other necessities. For example, a family of four is eligible to receive $562.00 per month in ADC benefits. To note, with limited exceptions, ADC can only be received for 60 total months in a parent’s lifetime.

In practice, when ADC payments are made to families, the State child support unit intervenes and seeks to recover all or a portion of those payments from the “non-supporting parent” in the form of child support payments.

However, when ADC is distributed to families, the amount paid to the family is “assignable” to the State. Essentially, any payments received through child support payments, up to the amount paid to a family through ADC, would be reimbursable to the State of Nebraska. Moreover, any child support amounts received, regardless of the amount, would be considered income to the family for the purposes of determining eligibility.   This practice hurt financially vulnerable families. 

During the most recent legislative session, a bill was proposed to fix this issue.  If a family receives ADC payments, any collected amounts of child support would not be assignable to the state and, instead, would “pass through” to the recipient (the child). Further, any amounts not assigned to the State, and received by the family, would not be considered as income for the determination of eligibility. The intent of this bill, as introduced, was clear: give more money to the families that needed it the most and not jeopardize eligibility based on the successful collection of child support by the State of Nebraska.

The bill was eventually passed and it provides benefits to Nebraska families that need the support the most. Instead of a “pass through” amount equal to the amount of support collected, up to $200.00 per month will be retained by the families that need it the most. The amount of money “passed through” to the family would also not be counted against them when determining eligibility for ADC benefits.

Joshua Livingston

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