If you read my blog, you know that I am not a believer in “father’s rights” type marketing strategies. It’s the stuff of snake oil salesmen in my opinion. If you care about your clients then you do whatever you can for them.
I do think some laws are unfair though. The biggest violator has to be Illinois child support laws.
What is wrong is that the amount you pay or receive does not reflect in any way the amount of time you spend with your child or what you do for them financially. If you are paying support for one kid, you’ll pay 20% of your net take home pay. Two kids is 28%. Three is 32% and so on.
But if you have your kids 50% of the time (man or woman) and your ex has the other 50%, one of you is still going to pay child support to the other. How is that fair? What if the Dad has the kids four days/nights and the Mom has them three? Should the Mom have to still pay the full amount? It’s not right.
It’s definitely not a male/female issue. People get screwed equally. It’s not just based on the time spent with the kids. How about the fact that you can be making $35,000 a year and your ex could make $400,000 a year and you’d still have to pay them child support if they have primary custody. I know Illinois can be a screwed up state, but that is ridiculous.
This happens because “this is how it’s always been done.” What made sense 50 years ago doesn’t necessarily make sense now. And to change this wouldn’t require more litigation, it would just require more organization and a willingness to look at what is really going on. Here’s what I’d propose:
-If your ex earns more than four times or $100,000 more than you do, your child support payments can’t exceed half of the current statutory minimums (so if you have two kids, you’d pay 14%).
-If you can prove that you spend at least 40% of the non-school hours with your child, then you should be eligible for the same deduction. Perhaps this would encourage some listless parents to spend more time with their kids.
-If you lose a job or have a reduction in salary, let’s create an easier way to modify your payments without having to hire a lawyer and go to court. And if you get a raise, you should be required to report it within 30 days for modification of be subject to having to pay back the increase retroactively.
-And given how many employers pay their employees cash under the table, enabling those parents from having to pay child support, I’d be in favor of allowing the other parent to sue the employer because their breaking of the law is hurting the child.
-I’d have child support issues handled by Arbitrators, not Judges, if that was the only issue in the case. That way it would take less time and money to get a result. Put both parties under oath, ask them questions about their wages and go from there. These hearings should not take nearly as long as they currently do.
While we are at it, let’s address college support payments. In an ideal world, parents would be able to afford to send their kids to college. I certainly hope to do so for my kids. If my wife and I stay married then it will be up to us as to whether or not to pay all or part of their college expenses. But if we were to get divorced then I’d be forced to do so. That makes no sense at all. A much better idea would be to make sure that 529 college savings plans can’t be touched until the child is either in school or has turned 20 and has not yet gone to college. But if you never saved for college while you were married, why do you get forced to pay it once divorced?
This system wouldn’t be perfect. Nothing is. But the goal should always be to make our laws better and fairer.