Child Support

July 9, 2013

If alimony is recognition and support for the sacrifices women chose to make within a marriage, then child support is recognition and support for one’s children. Unlike alimony, which often is awarded for “invisible” labor and “what if” scenarios, child support payments go towards something real, something tangible. Children are expensive, and they take money to properly care for.

While child support laws vary state by state, generally the payment goes from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. Usually this also means that the parent with the most income potential pays support to the parent with the least income potential. The reason these often coincide is twofold; one, because women are still seen as the primary caretakers, they are more likely to be awarded custody. Two, as discussed in the last post, women often give up earning potential while married, to find themselves under employed when they divorce.

Women suddenly find themselves shouldering the entire cost of raising a child, or multiple children. Add to those costs the additional cost of child care which before was either free because she was doing it herself, or subsidized because she worked fewer hours or her husband provided some of the duties.

Child support is supposed to help cover the expensive gap left by divorce, yet in 2009 the Census Bureau reported that only “41.2 percent of custodial parents received the full amount of child support owed them”. Even for those who received the child support owed to them, the average amount was only $300 a month.

So what gives? Why do so many fathers seem not interested in the welfare of their children? Like with alimony, society brands women who receive child support as attempting to “trap” a man with a financial obligation, and therefore the child support does not really go to their children, but to fund her expensive habits. Unfortunately, this attitude both untrue, and harmful for the children involved.

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