2007 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Senator(s) Nunnelee
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-19-34, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT AN ARREARAGE IN CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS BY A NONCUSTODIAL PARENT SHALL NOT BE A BAR TO A REVIEW OF THE SUPPORT ORDER BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND A DOWNWARD MODIFICATION OF SUPPORT PAYMENTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-19-34, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-19-34. (1) In lieu of legal proceedings instituted to obtain a modification for an order for support, a written stipulated agreement for modification executed by the responsible parent when acknowledged before a clerk of the court having jurisdiction over such matters or a notary public and filed with and approved by the judge of said court shall have the same force and effect, retroactively and prospectively, in accordance with the terms of said agreement as an order for modification of support entered by the court, and shall be enforceable and subject to subsequent modification in the same manner as is provided by law for orders of the court in such cases.
(2) With respect to a child support order in cases initiated or enforced by the Department of Human Services pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, wherein the department has determined that a modification is appropriate, the department shall send a motion and notice of intent to modify the order, together with the proposed modification of the order under this section to the last known mailing address of the defendant. Such notice shall specify the date and time certain of the hearing and shall be sent by certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested; notice shall be deemed complete as of the date of delivery as evidenced by the return receipt. The required notice may also be delivered by personal service in accordance with Rule 4 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure insofar as it may be applied to service of an administrative order or notice. The defendant may accept the proposed modification by signing and returning it to the department prior to the date of hearing for presentation to the court for approval. In the event that the defendant does not sign and return the proposed modification, the court shall on the date and time previously set for hearing review the proposal and make a determination as to whether it should be approved in whole or in part.
(3) Every three (3) years, upon the request of either parent, or if there is an assignment under Section 43-19-35, upon the request of the Department of Human Services or of either parent, the department shall review and, if appropriate, seek to adjust a support order being enforced under Section 43-19-31 in accordance with the guidelines established pursuant to Section 43-19-101, if the amount of the child support award under the order differs from the amount that would be awarded in accordance with the guidelines, taking into account the best interests of the child involved. No proof of a material change in circumstances is necessary in the three-year review for adjustment pursuant to this subsection (3). A preexisting arrearage in support payments shall not serve as a bar to the department's review and adjustment procedure. Proof of a material change in circumstances is necessary for modification outside the three-year cycle.
(4) Any order for the support of minor children, whether entered through the judicial system or through an expedited process, shall not be subject to a downward retroactive modification. An upward retroactive modification may be ordered back to the date of the event justifying the upward modification.
(5) In the event that a downward modification is determined to be warranted pursuant to the guidelines contained in subsection (3), the noncustodial parent's arrearage, if any, shall not be a basis for contesting the downward modification in any subsequent legal proceedings.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.