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Should grandparents be responsible for child support?

In the typical child support enforcement matter, state officials pursue a mother or father who has failed to meet their court-ordered obligations through a variety of mechanisms such as wage garnishment or asset seizure.

In the majority of these actions, the delinquent parents being pursued are adults, meaning they are generally capable of working full-time.

Things are decidedly different, however, when the delinquent parent in question is considered a minor in the eyes of the law. That's because they may be unable to work full-time due to school and a host of other obligations that can make covering the costs of raising a child difficult if not impossible. Indeed, many minor parents end up turning to the state for financial assistance.

In recognition of this reality, lawmakers in the state of Hawaii have recently introduced a very interesting bill that, if passed, would require the parents of minors who have a child to cover support and maintenance costs. In other words, it would make grandparents responsible for paying child support for their grandchildren.

Specifically, House Bill 128 would authorize the state's child support enforcement agency to pursue support and maintenance from both sets of grandparents until the minor parent or parents reach the age of 18.

According to proponents of the measure, the measure would enable minor parents to take steps to better prepare for assuming their role as primary providers (completion of school, parenting classes, etc.), strengthen familial bonds and reduce reliance on public assistance.  

While this measure may seem novel, at least 13 other states already have such measures in place, including Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

HB 128 is currently before the judiciary committee of the state legislature. Stay tuned for developments.

What are your thoughts on this legislation? Do you think Texas should consider something like this?

Source: KHON-2, "Bill could hook grandparents for child support," Brigette Namata, Feb. 3, 2015

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