Getting started, Intelligence, Legal (Custody, alimony & support)

Child Support Reform: What Side of The Fight Are You On?

Learn about child support and child support reform.
(4 minutes 22 seconds read)

Cathy Meyer
Cathy is a Master Certified Relationship Coach and certified Marriage Educator.

Child Support Reform: What Side of The Fight Are You On?

Child support reform? Not if it means custodial mothers receive less child support than they do now based on state child support guidelines. Not if it means children go without so Dad can have a better lifestyle.

If you are new to divorce let me explain how child support works. A parent pays child support based on guidelines set by the state the divorce takes place in. Those guidelines vary state to state so, check your state’s divorce laws for an accurate explanation of how your state decides how much a parent pays.

The one thing I can say, with all sincerity, is that child support guidelines are fair. No father is going broke due to a child support order. And, if he is, the courts have a solution for that, it’s called child support modification. He may go broke because he is in arrears…has not kept up with his child support and is having to pay the state back plus interest. If so, that is his problem, not his child’s problem and no child should have to pay for bad choices Dad made.

The internet is wrapped up with fathers complaining about paying “unreasonable” amounts of child support. According to Glenn Sacks, “A new study of child support has concluded that most states’ child support guidelines are poorly designed, inequitable, and in need of reform.”

After years of surviving on minimal child support and working with both mothers and fathers during and after divorce, I don’t see this as a clear case of injustice and inequality against fathers, the parent who is more likely to be ordered to pay child support. In fact, I don’t think that a sense of “injustice and inequality” have anything to do with fathers who resent paying child support.

I’m a single mother who provided for the majority of her children’s financial needs until they graduated from college. My ex-husband walked away from our marriage with 87% of his income and livid about paying the remaining 13% in child support. His complaint was, “how am I supposed to live?” My response, the one that finally left him stopped his complaints, “You’ll live a hell of a lot better lifestyle than your children.”

Here is the issue with men who complain about paying child support. It isn’t the amount of child support they pay; it’s having to pay it to the ex that gets under their skin. They can’t separate their relationship with the ex from the responsibility they have toward their children.

Should we reform child support laws just because some men are angry with their ex, no we shouldn’t. Loud, angry men are shouting over the heads of divorced moms who are raising and providing for their children. If we aren’t careful those men, those squeaky wheels will get the grease while our children suffer even more due to their mother’s inability to provide financially.

Do some research, you will find the justifications men use for believing child support should be reformed. Justifications like…

  • Custodial mothers don’t have to provide receipts to non-custodial fathers that prove child support was spent on the child. Or, custodial mothers should provide for the children, share receipts of what was provided and then the non-custodial father can pay her back.
  • It’s unconstitutional for the state to order a father to pay child support. It’s all about the 14th amendment. Paying child support deprives fathers of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law” as is accorded under the 14th amendment. I’m not sure how being ordered by a family court to pay child support can be misconstrued as not having due process. And, there seems to be no concern by these fathers of the “life, liberty, property and due process they would be denying their children by paying less child support.
  • The worst comes from a woman, though. Phyllis Schlafly says, “The purpose of child support is to allow the mother to maintain a household and standard of living comparable to the father’s.” A woman who has spent decades fighting against equal rights for women lends her inexperienced voice to the topic of child support? She has no dog in the fight, has no idea what she is talking about and any argument from her holds no weight.

The child support system should be improved, not reformed to lower child support payments. In 2009, over $100 billion was owed in unpaid child support and nearly half of that to taxpayers supporting their children on public assistance. When custodial mothers don’t receive child support payments, they end up receiving public assistance. That public assistance costs the federal government around $53 billion a year.

The need isn’t to reduce what fathers owe their children financially. What we need is to reduce the burden on the federal government and custodial mothers due to fathers who don’t pay. Child support reform is a controversial subject. People have mixed feelings about the topic and I understand that. I don’t, however, understand how allowing fathers to become less responsible for their children will solve any problem, especially not the problem of a fair and equitable right our children have to be financially supported by both parents.