The Path of Fire: The Current Child Support System

It’s a lot to take in. There is over $118 billion in IV-D documented arrears and over 10 million cases with owed arrears in the United States. You are one of those numbers. Perhaps you’ve tried everything you could think of to chase down a deadbeat parent but still have nothing to show for it. You are not alone; 50% of custodial parents do not receive any kind of child support.  

Fighting Expenses

Deadbeat parents will always have excuses and may even argue that you are living off their child support or even complain about specific purchases made. Expense reporting is, at most, a considerate gesture but by no means a requirement. There is NO law that states the receiver of child support must provide proof to the payer that child support is being used on the child’s expenses. 

The fact is that the custodial parent has monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and school supplies. It is perfectly lawful for the obligee to spend the money as they see deem necessary. 

Shared Expenses

Often both parents have parenting time with the children, so each parent is going to incur some expenses when the children are in their care. Some child support obligors argue that child support should be offset to account for the expenses they incur. 

However, the law already provides for such an offset with what is known as the parenting expense adjustment. When there is a court order giving the obligor parenting time between 10 and 45% of the time, the law provides for an offset of the obligor’s child support payment by 12%. 

If the noncustodial parent has between 45.1% and 50% parenting time, the parenting time is presumed to be equal for purposes of child support, and a different calculation is used. If there is a court order giving the noncustodial parent less than 10% parenting time, or if there is no court order giving the noncustodial parent parenting time, then there is no parenting expense adjustment.

The support is to cover the necessary expenses for the child’s care. Whether that be direct (like clothes, food, etc.) or indirect support (like rent, utilities, school, etc.). Even then, most child support orders only average about $330 a month as it is. Again, if you can find a custodial parent that can live and keep the kids above the poverty line on $330 a month, I’ll eat my shirt. And get that parent a job teaching budgeting to the rest of us!

Avoiding Payments

Not only will deadbeat parents use any and every excuse to evade payment, but the system is broken enough to allow them to get away with it! What’s worse is that the system does nothing to rectify it. 

Deadbeats hide or delay enforcement actions by a simple address or phone number change, refusing to update information, dodging process servers, or making so-called “payments” of five cents to prevent suspension of license. Additionally, they will work as 1099 contractors, work under the table, or in cash based businesses. 

The “enforcement” of child support has turned into a bad joke at the expense of America’s children. I will never understand why some parents think supporting children is optional, unnecessary, or a punishment. After all, it’s their children, their flesh and blood, not just numbers on a spreadsheet at a broken government agency. 

Everyone should do the right thing and support their children, and custodial parents have the absolute right to use every legal means available to make it happen. 


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