What's wrong with the Massachusetts Child Support Guideline?
Read the Guideline (MS Word doc)
The Child Support Guideline is driven by a flawed premise, from which it is
guaranteed that the entire paradigm of Child Support as mandated by the
Guideline will also be flawed.
The reality of divorce and family breakup is that everyone is inevitably harmed. The relevant question addressed by the state should be—
The guiding principle should be to encourage both households to
increase their income, and the sooner the better.
The Guideline does exactly the opposite: It encourages both parties to minimize their income.
It encourages the custodial mother to keep her income under $20,000—so that she will gain the maximum award from the father.
It discourages fathers from working in several ways. By establishing levels of support (as percentages of income) so high that, for other than upper middle-class and wealthy men, a custodial father cannot provide a minimum standard of living for himself—let alone a minimum standard of living for the children when they are in his care (is this intentional?). Furthermore, it actually discourages the noncustodial father from working more—perhaps in overtime if available or by taking a second job—by not specifically excluding such extra income from further raising his child support.
I The Guideline says in its introduction:
"In establishing these guidelines, due consideration has been given to the following principles:
. . .
3. To provide the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the family been intact;
. . ."
This statement, which serves to establish the fundamental purpose of the Guideline, creates an absurdity: two households from the same income as one, and one of the households have no change in the standard of living.
The Guideline addresses the need for the NCP to increase his income with the following:
“B. In individual cases, the court may choose to disregard overtime income or income derived from a second job. However, consideration of such income may be appropriate in certain instances such as those where such income constituted a regular source of income when the family was intact.”
The Guideline should specifically encourage both parties to increase their income, for the benefit of all. The Guideline should explicitly contain an income “disregard” statement for child support considerations of extra income when the NCP chooses to increase their income by working more.
II. Child support awards are ostensibly to ensure that both parents provide for the children:
“2. To encourage joint parental responsibility for child support in proportion to, or as a percentage of income;”
yet $20,000 of custodial parent is “disregarded,” when computing her portion, in recognition that:
"in many instances, to maintain a domicile and a reasonable standard of living for the minor children, the custodial parent will choose to work."
This is another absurdity. The NCP also requires a minimum standard of living—especially since he has to also provide housing for the children regardless of how much “parenting time” he has.
The child support award is ostensibly intended to provide for the children's needs. To further establish a need for a “reasonable standard of living” is double-dipping. If the CP requires a minimum standard of living, so does the noncustodial parent. The CP income disregard is a blatant example of the real purpose of child support: to transfer wealth from men to women – i.e., “politically correct alimony.”
III. CHILD SUPPORT DOES NOT FOLLOW THE CHILDREN—further proof that it is not “about the children,” but about empowering women at the expense of men and encouraging the breakup of families.
i. There is no mechanism for accounting how child support is spent.
ii. There is no adjusting for child support based on the amount of time the children spend with the noncustodial parent
iii. EVEN WHEN FATHERS GAIN PHYSICAL CUSTODY OF THEIR CHILDREN, THEY RARELY RECEIVE CHILD SUPPORT FROM MOM. Speaking from experience as I have been on both sides of this equation: When mom has custody, judges automatically assign child support and pay no mind to any mitigating circumstances dad may be facing.
When dad gains custody -- A MIRACLE HAPPENS! -- the judges write these things called “Findings of Fact,” which explain why mom needs special consideration, and a child support award should NOT be assigned.
THEREFORE, since child support is NOT about the children, what is it REALLY about?
Ask a dozen fathers and you will hear a dozen different answers. I suggest asking the question: “Whose interest is served by the state establishing a regime whereby women are encouraged to throw away the fathers of their children?”
This is the question that really needs to be asked, discussed, and debated. This is where any discussion on “child support” should begin.