Does The Current Child Support System Needs Some Serious Overhauling? (Pt 1)

Man holding young daughter
An interesting article calls into question all the foundational ideas the current child support system is based on.

A lot of time and energy gets spent exposing the flaws in the child welfare system (as it should!) because, let’s face it – there’s enough wrong with that entire system to keep a thousand analysts working ’round the clock for years. But a similarly broken system that hardly gets a mention is the child support system, which let’s face it, is also incredibly outdated and is founded on principles that don’t apply to modern life anymore. Not sure what we’re going on about here? Check this out – you’ll be amazed!

The current child support system is very outdated.

Ask any parent paying child support and they’ll tell you – the system is rigged against them. And while it can certainly sound like the sour grapes of someone who is forced to shell out money they can ill-afford, there may be some truth in that complaint. In a very illuminating article about how ‘deadbeat dads’ can still be good fathers, Boston Globe correspondent Ruth Graham made some very interesting points on the matter.

Outdated notions can create mindsets that don’t move with the times.

For one, she noted that paying child support is only one aspect of fatherhood, and that dads who struggle to pay shouldn’t be labelled “bad fathers”. But there’s a lot more to that argument beyond the issue of how we label the men who have difficulty paying for their children’s upkeep. The system itself is in need of a major overhaul, she says, because it was based on stereotypes and outdated notions that no longer apply to many families today.

Life isn’t the same today as it was in the 1970’s

The child support system we use today was created in the 1970’s as a bipartisan policy reform that designed to serve divorced parents who were steadily employed. And by employed parents, we mean employed dads. Because in the 1970’s most moms still stayed home with the kids, and dad was the sole breadwinner. Kathryn Edin, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist who Graham spoke to when writing her piece, explained the historical flaws in the system. “We have a 1970s narrative about a 2010s reality.”

Low-income fathers have a particularly hard time.

Another very important point that Graham made in her article, was the fact that 29% of families in the US love below the poverty line. This means there are many fathers who really do want to provide for their children, but don’t have the means to do it. Unfortunately, once unpaid child support starts adding up (called arrears here in Michigan) it becomes a major issue. Left long enough and it can lead to wage garnishments that result in unpaid bills, parental alienation when the parent not receiving support gets angry and resentful, and in some cases even incarceration.

Being involved in your children’s lives is important!

We may be attorneys, but we’re also parents, so we understand how important children are to their parents, and how critical that relationship can be. If you need help with figuring out your child support, or modifying your existing child support agreement, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our helpful and hardworking family law attorneys can help you with any aspect of this process, regardless of which side of the arrangement you’re on.