Are Child Support Laws Equitable and Fair For Both Parents?

If support payment is based on a noncustodial parent income, then what happens to the excess of the money that is received by the custodial parent once the child’s needs are taken care of? Most noncustodial parents want accountability for the payments received. I concur. During the divorce process, both parties are required to present a financial affidavit outlining all their expenses, assets and their income. Why then shouldn’t custodial parents outline the monthly expenses of the child or children and present that to establish support payment? If it takes only $500 for a child’s monthly expenses and the custodial parent receives $1200, then the remaining $700 is custodial support. Doesn’t seem fair does it? The question that was presented to both men and women was should custodial parents be accountable for the child support payment they receive?

Child support laws have changed in many states to include the income of both parents, however, it needs to be changed nationwide for child support to be based on the expenses of each child. Most noncustodial parents would then stop evading child support and those that are reluctant to pay child support will pay child support because it will be based on the expenses and needs of the child. In order to make child support fair to both parents, this small change can be easily implemented when establishing the child support order.

Christy is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend and she came to my office for advice on how to proceed with her relationship with the father of her child. She was initially quite angry and disappointed but elated that she was having a baby. She did not want the father involved with the unborn baby and wanted to do it all by herself. I thought how selfish, but I explained to her that her baby would benefit by having both parents involved in his/her life. In another session, we discuss how much child support she should receive. I asked her to write down all the expenses she would incur from having the baby as well as the budget monthly for caring for the baby. She brought the expenses during a follow-up session and I suggested that is the amount you ask for child support and present the father with the budget. When she came back, her relationship with the father had taken a positive turn. Christy informed me that he was relieved that she was fair and equitable in deciding on the financial responsibility of raising their child.

However, the face of child support is changing. Statistic shows that 85% of custodial parents are mothers and 15% are fathers. The fasting growing segment/population of parents are fathers. More and more fathers are fighting for custody and in today’s changing world; more fathers are getting custody of their children.

This is the perfect place to introduce Denise. Denise contacted me last year when her husband, of whom she was separated from, kept her two children when they visited him for the summer. She wanted to know her rights and the rights of her husband. What I told her shocked her. No parent actually has custody of their children unless it is outlined and determined in a divorce decree or in other documentation signed by both parents. I suggested to Denise that when the children come back for the Christmas holiday she could keep the children with her. However, I also suggested that she should have a candid conversation with her children to see where they prefer to live, with mommy or daddy.

At Christmas her two children came to visit, however, Denise did not take my advice. The children went back after the holiday to their father. During her divorce hearing in the following spring, and when the issue of custody was presented, the judge asked, “if you wanted the children with you, why didn’t you keep them when they came to visit?” He continued to say, “if you didn’t think the father was doing a good job with the children, why did you allow them to stay with him for so long.” Denise called me after the hearing and informed me that the father was awarded custody and she should have listened to me.

Denise is not the only mother I know that doesn’t have custody of their children and is the noncustodial parent. I have several mothers that I consult that are noncustodial parents. What happens when mothers are noncustodial parents? Do they have to pay the percentage outlined in child support laws? The answer is yes. What I’ve seen when mothers are noncustodial parents are fathers are more lenient to mothers paying child support and seldom demand that they pay the amount outlined in child support laws. This is the case for Denise. She only pays a small amount per month to the father for the care of her two children.