The Truth About Child Support

Nothing shocks a non-custodial parent more, and nothing ticks off an alienated parent more than Federal and State child support laws.

I have yet to meet anyone who really has a problem with supporting the needs of the children.

No, the problem is, it’s called “child support”, but that is not really what most of it is.

What the majority of the payment really is, is a tax-free income entitlement to the custodial parent:

  • The custodial parent is generally not required to demonstrate they are actually using the funds for the benefit of the children – they are free to do with the money whatever they please.
  • The intent of child support laws is to ensure the child maintains a standard of living they would have enjoyed if the parents were married – in other words, if your income rises in the future, so does the custodians.
  • Child support payments are considered taxable income on the part of the payer, but are received tax-free on the part of the custodial parent.
  • Federal Law says child support payments are NOT optional and cannot be waived, so even if you and your spouse agree on a child support amount, he or she can always come back at any point in time in the future with an enforcement action for arrears.
  • There is no statute that requires a father be notified of the birth of a child.  So for example, a mother can get pregnant, hide the pregnancy and the child from the father, and initiate and enforcement action against the father at any point in the future.

Furthermore, while most states have different standards for determining child support, Federal Law requires all states to:

  • Establish standards for establishing child support payments
  • Provide a state collection and enforcement agency
  • Provide a process by which child support payments can be modified in the future

And while individual formulas vary, most child support calculations converge around the following general guidelines for determining the amount of child support you are ordered to pay:

  • A pro-rata share of a child support amount based on the combined and individual incomes of both parents.
  • The amount of custody time each parent is awarded
  • The extracurricular or special needs of the children

What Happens If Your Financial Circumstances Change?

Baring your death, there really is NO defense against the non-payment of child support.

If you should lose your job, suffer a medical catastrophe, or any other financial trauma, it is upon you to maintain your child support payments until you can schedule a hearing with the Family Court and ask for a reduction.

However, in most states, even if the Court allows for this, there will almost always a minimum amount of child support you must pay – you cannot have zero child support even if you have zero income.

It’s also worth noting, that there is no requirement for the custodial parent to work in contributing to the financial needs of the children. So, it’s not uncommon for the custodian to be unemployed and living solely on Court ordered child support entitlements, especially if the non-custodial parent has worked hard to increase their monthly income.

The Consequences for Non-Payment of Child Support

This is where it gets ugly.

The Family Support Act of 1988 greatly expanded the power of states to collect payments by requiring that all states immediately withhold child support being raised through an enforcement action.

In addition, after 1994, states were also required (with some exceptions) to withhold child support payments by wage garnishment regardless of whether an enforcement action was in place.

The consequences for non-payment are severe, and include but are not limited to:

  • Fines
  • The revocation of driver’s licenses
  • The revocation of business and professional licenses
  • Seizure of tax refunds
  • Seizure of financial assets and personal property
  • Revocation of passports
  • Jail

Also, Federal Statute also allows States to asses court costs or interest merely for the administration of child support payments, and nearly states report child support payments and histories to credit bureaus, which affects your FICO score, ability to obtain credit, and the interest rates you must pay.

Furthermore, in most states, there needs to be no actual proof you are behind on your child support obligations. All that is required is for the custodian to fill out an affidavit of arrears, and you’ll be served with the action and told it is up to you to prove the figures are misrepresented.

In Other Words, The Short Story Version Is This….

There is no enforcement process to ensure visitation with your children – it’s all about the money.

In fact, in 1975, the Federal Government enacted the Title IVD program to create the Office Of Child Support Enforcement. The intent here was a noble one: to shift some of the financial burden of welfare mothers away from the Federal Government by ensuring non-custodial parents paid child support.

The end result is the Fed’s pay the states $1.50 to $2 for every $1 the states are able to collect through child support administration programs (ironically, the Government Office of Accounting has admitted this program loses actually loses more money than the previous system).

And while one would think that States receiving this money would use it to help enforce visitation orders, they don’t. 

They’re free to use the money in any way they see fit, and so they’re using this money to shore up their state budgets.  – it’s PORK money created by exploiting children and non-custodial parents.

But, don’t think you have to be months behind to compel a Judge to order you pay child support through the State. In truth, all the custodial parent has to do is ask for it, and they’re going to get it (for a good review of how States are profiting from child support,  please see this article).

Furthermore, while support payments are labeled “child support”, there actually is NO legal requirement that custodial parents use the money for the support or benefit of children.

To the contrary, as much as there is an economic incentive for States to maximize your child support payments, there is also financial profitability for the custodial parent to limit your time with the children and even avoid working at all if your income is substantial, because the payments they receive are tax-free and a function of your current and future earning power.

And lastly, miss a child support payment, for any reason, and you’re in big, BIG trouble; with long-term consequences that will affect your ability to get a job, secure insurance, or obtain credit for years to come.

Nearly all non-custodial parents are happy to provide for the financial needs their children.

However, the body of child support law, while well intended, is absolutely absurd.

Because children have been reduced to money-making assets for custodial parents and States.

And you have NO defenses against non-payment.

Have a kid to make money – it’s that simple.

 

 

 

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