On Gender
Politics

 

Child Support Reform


Even though every divorced father knows his child support is far too high, few do anything about it. Even among father’s groups there is limited effort toward child support reform or resources for cases.

There are probably many reasons. Seeing your kids at all is more important, and divorced fathers have little money for more legal battles or political lobbying. Yet irrational child support is now a significant contributor to still higher rates of fatherlessness. Not only are there the estimated 15,000 fathers in jail at any one time (100,000 a year), and not only the thousands more forced to flee, but those who cannot afford reasonable housing for themselves to have their children with them.

But the Children’s Rights Council, like others, are intimidated by the emotions of the issue. It’s not manly to complain, and only “Bad Guys” balk at support for their children. You don’t want custody reform associated with that. Custody reform is about supporting your children more directly, not diminishing it, so there is emotional and political intimidation.

Except that supporting your children is no longer the issue. When you learn that many custodial parents’ standard of living now well exceeds that of even higher-earning NCPs, the issue is children for profit. The 1999 issue of the journal, Demography (Vol. 32, No. 2) carried a study by Susan Bianchi, Lekha Subaiya, and Joan Kahn called, “The Gender Gap in the Economic Well-being of Nonresident Fathers and Custodial Mothers.” Thirty-five percent of the custodial parent’s income, before child support, exceeded that of the NCP. Child benefits her far more than the children.

But the most troubling reason fathers and fathers groups don’t work for reform or fight cases is that they don’t know enough. Many are unaware of how weekly founded and assailable state guidelines are. Most still don’t know that not only do the formulas adopted by all states violate basic economic principles and known costs of children, but do so in violation of their own federal regulations.

As you’ll see, that’s not just opinion.

Even among those that have some idea there may be scepticism about fighting city hall. “So, another unjust law. If the people want to scapegoat and oppress fathers, the courts have never proved anything but happy to join in.” There is merit to that attitude but it has not proved strictly true. Lower court judges have consistently welcomed arguments, it is the more politically sensitive higher courts that avoid them.

R. Mark Rogers was a federal reserve economist. He was so offended by the crooked economic thinking that produced all child support guidelines that he set up private practice to counter it. He has a 100% success rate in reducing presumptive awards, and 25% is the smallest decrease in a case upon which he has worked. He and retired constitutional lawyer John Remington Graham were instrumental in preventing the Virginia Assembly from increasing that state’s child support, and his work and testimony have helped bring major changes to the laws of Minnesota and Tennessee. Rogers has given three Georgia county judges the material they needed to declare parts or all of that state’s statute, unconstitutional, though in all cases the state supreme court has overruled them by avoiding the issues raised, and the US Supreme Court declined to hear them.

Rogers is a “gun for hire.” He costs money as an expert or he’d have no credibility, but he is also personally committed to applying reason to child support, not emotion.

In coming columns I will summarize why it’s really easy to challenge current child support, both in your case and in the legislature.

©2007 KC Wilson

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To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. - Marilyn French

 

 K.C. Wilson is a social commentator and author of Where's Daddy? The Mythologies Behind Custody-Access-Support, and the e-books: Male Nurturing, Co-parenting for Everyone, The Multiple Scandals of Child Support, and Delusions of Violence: The Secrets Behind Domestic Violence Myths. For his personal life, he prefers anonymity. He writes as a nobody, for he is not your ordinary divorce expert with the usual credentials. He is not a lawyer or psychologist, he is not now nor has he ever been a member of the Divorce Industry. K.C. is simply a thinker and researcher, for the issues are not legal, but human, social and common to all. When change is indicated, should we turn to those that the very status quo which is to be questioned has promoted to "expert?" Society's structures are up to society, not a select few. So his writing is for and about you, the ordinary person. K.C. prefers to be known as simply one himself, and that is how he writes. Find out more at wheres-daddy.com

 



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