Sunday, April 08, 2007

List of child support problems

A reader asked me to summarize what is wrong with the American child support system. Here is my list, in no particular order.
  • It is not related to actual needs or expenses of the kids.
  • There is no requirement or obligation to spend the money on the kids.
  • The formulas give each parent a huge financial incentive to deny the
  • other parent access to the kids.
  • Payments are required even if the custodial parent is rich.
  • The formulas presume that a parent who never sees his kid should spend just as much on him as one who sees his kid every day.
  • The percentage of income allocated on child-rearing is based on an obscure academic analysis of spending on alcohol, tobacco, and adult clothing.
  • The formulas are supposed to be based on income, but do not use actual income like IRS taxes.
  • The system has turned middle class single and remarried parents into welfare cases.
  • Debts are treated as criminal offenses, and a man can be jailed just because he is unemployed and broke.
  • A man can be forced to pay even if a DNA test proves that he is not the father.
  • Parents have no financial privacy, and a bitter ex-spouse can use the system for many years of harassment.
  • Judges can ignore the formulas with impunity, and there is rarely any appeal.
  • For some women, it is a huge and undeserved financial winfall.
If I missed anything, please add it in the comments.

1 comment:

anon said...

I'd like to add a few more:

The risk of child support is a disincentive to responsible saving by men.

It is an incentive to single parenthood.

It is a gold-digger's charter.

It costs in tax and income forgone by men who don't wish to declare or work overtime at an effective tax rate of 70%.

There is always a cascade of 'quality of spending'. I use most efficiently money that I earned via hard work, spent on something I need. Less efficient is my spending a windfall I got unearned from someone else on something I need. But the most pointless wastes occur when I'm spending someone else's money for a third party. This is child support.

I could go on...