Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, August 15, 2013

We Should Reform Child Support

President Obama's Father's Day speech included one very important sentence: "We should reform our child support laws to get more men working and engaged with their children." That was an excellent statement because child support laws, indeed, are urgently in need of "reform."

Many fathers work long hours and make incredible sacrifices for their families. However, child support payments from divorced fathers are based on the ridiculous notion that a father will make those same sacrifices for an ex-wife who is living with her new husband or boyfriend, and for children he never or seldom sees. Many fathers would happily do more to support their children if they got to see their kids more often and were more engaged in their lives. But current child support laws have reverse incentives: the more the mother prevents such contact, the more child support she receives.

Child support is not even really child support because the mother has no obligation to spend the money on the kids, and the faithful payment of child support by the father does not buy him time with his kids. The purpose of child support is to allow the mother to maintain a standard of living comparable to the father's. A so-called "no fault divorce" is often followed by a bitter child custody dispute with bogus allegations of domestic violence or child abuse, and the winner can get a huge child support windfall. Usually the family court judge cannot tell who is telling the truth.

No parent should collect money for denying kids the opportunity to see the other parent. But a family court judge can ignore current income (or lack thereof) and instead calculate child support on past income or on imputed future income. Reform of child support should eliminate all bad incentives in the current system that prevent good fathers from being engaged with their own children.

Listen to the radio commentary here:


Anonymous said...

I can't agree with you more....

Anonymous said...

I live in Michigan. My 17 year old son decided to move in with his dad (who never lifted a finger for him at home or school) when he didn't want to abide by our rules. I, the mom, pay child support. Since his move in with his dad, he dropped out of sports and is failing high school. He is 18.5 years old, going into his senior year this September, 4 classes in the hole. I filed a motion to have the child support stopped based on no reasonable expectation of graduation. I guess that's up to the judge and I will more than likely lose, however, if a child gets so far behind in school like this and runs around all day and night without any consequences from the custodial parent, why should that parent get the benefit of child support? I do believe the law can be too black and white at times, but I would hope a judge would see the real reason my ex wanted full custody – his own financial benefit. I would be happy paying child support if I thought my child was better off with the dad. My child NEVER failed any classes while living under my roof.

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