Family Law

Child Support Laws: Equitable and Fair for Both Parents?

child supportWe all know how traumatic divorce can be, and the stakes are raised when children are involved, because there’s the whole matter of child support. However, the trauma is often the same even for children conceived outside of marriage. Unfortunately, many people, particularly men, feel that child support laws are not equitable and fair for both parents.

When there is a breakdown in a couple’s relationship, settling the matter of child support is not always easy. However, the calculation of the amount of payable is governed by state regulations. Calculations are typically done based on the percentage of income model, or the income shares model. In addition, some states use variations of these models, or a combination of both.

The Percentage of Income Model

Under the percentage of income model, child support is based solely on the income of the noncustodial parent. The income of the custodial parent is not included. Since in most cases the noncustodial parent is the father, many fathers often feel hard done by law. In many cases, the noncustodial parent complains that there is no accountability required by the custodial parent when payments are made.

In some quarters, it’s believed that fathers often resent having to pay support, because they don’t believe it’s a fair measure of the financial needs of the child. So some of them only pay child support on an ad hoc basis, or avoid paying it altogether.

However, in those instances where fathers are awarded custody of the children, and child support calculations are done based on the percentage of income model, the laws are duly enforced. Therefore, child support payments are calculated as a percentage of the mother’s income. So in that respect, the child support law is fair.

The Income Shares Model

Some states in the US have made the decision to amend the laws so that calculations for child support consider the income of both parents. This is the basis of the income shares model.

The income shares model is designed to ensure that children are not at a financial disadvantage because their parents are no longer together. The amount payable by each parent will depend on their percentage share of the combined income.

Pooling the resources of both parents to arrive at child support is seen as a more equitable calculation. However, some noncustodial parents think that this still does not go far enough. They believe that the formula should focus primarily on the real expenses associated with raising a child. This would make the matter less contentious for the noncustodial parent, as the child support payable would be based on real costs.

The existing models are sometimes implemented in different forms in various states. It’s therefore important to consult with an attorney in your state regarding the specifics of child support laws for the state in which you live.

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