Tuesday, February 2, 2010

When it comes to child support, ex husbands are always rich

Yesterday 'Jen' wrote a post about child support. She wrote that her ex complained about how much he had to pay. She also wrote about how that sometimes she has to chase him down to pay his child support obligation.

For clear disclosure, I pay child support, but I have always felt this way. My situation with that DOES NOT SUCK, but there are many others out there who have a pretty crappy situation! I do understand that the system is not fair for the men, women, and even the kids. Let me tell you a story from the other side of the coin. Let me tell you how it feels to be the guy who watches has his pay check is reduced every month because in my state, they take it directly from your paycheck.

I first want to get this off my chest. The child support system in my state [OH] and many other states is screwed the eff up. The system doesn't promote bettering yourself. It promotes taking from the father and giving to the mother as far as child support is concerned. It is designed to make guys look like the bad guys and ladies look like the fairy god mothers. It is designed to make the man either, not want to get a better paying job, or not care, or even run from their obligation, and it can also make the women in the system not want to get a better job, because at that point, their child support order could be reduced. Let me explain why that is.

Along with child support comes the whole custody issue. These issues, in the court of law, are different. They first decide how much money you both make together. They then decide the child support order. They then decides who gets the kids.

When my first wife and I decided to divorce, money was a huge issue. I'm not going to lie. But we already had a predetermined custody arrangement. It was literally shared parenting. 3.5 days per parent, per week.

You cannot split it more down the middle than that.

In Ohio, the child support system is easy. There is no negotiating. They take income A then add it to income B. They then take that amount and look for it on an inch think table that determines how much it should cost to raise that child/children because let's face it, the politicians have a real grasp of how much things cost. They figure out the percentages of income contribution. So if income A contributes 65% of the total income, then you pay 65% of the total cost of raising the child.

So do you see a problem with this? No? Ok, let me explain more.

Here in lies the issue. Say, in 6 years from now, I get a raise, and then my ex loses her job. We get a summons to go re-do the child support order. They do the math again. Only this time, I make more money that we used to combined, so the amount that it should cost to raise the kids goes up. Then my percentage contribution is now 100%. So where did my raise go? I actually bring home less money now, because I have to pay more. [for the record this is a hypothetical situation, my ex has a job, but this is contemplating the 'what if's'] How is this fair. In essence, I am getting dinged for getting a better job. My ex is getting more money because she lost/quit/or otherwise doesn't have a job. Roles could also be reversed. Say my ex get's a better job, and we got through the process again, she would get less in child support. So where is the motivation for either party to get a better job for either party? Most of the time, the father's order is never reduced.

It's not like she has my daughter more than me. She has her exactly equal parts. I still pay for clothes too. I still pay for shoes too. I still do a lot of things that she also does. But my child support is supposed to pay for all that.

So now that we are having a math lesson, I pay child support for clothes, food, and other things; and my daughter is with me just as much, and I also buy her things like clothes, food, and other things on top of that; so basically, not only am I supporting her at her mom's, but also at my house. I don't understand it. I am basically paying double to raise my daughter. Do you see where this system is a bit messed up? [I don't mind spoiling my daughter at all]

Here is what I think the support system needs a make-over. I think there needs to be accountability on both sides of the child support order. Instead of handing over the cash to one of the parents, put it in a neutral bank account. Both parents have equal rights to it, and the only thing that the money is used for is purchasing things like clothes and school things for the child. They have to be held accountable for their purchases, and at any time, can be audited by the State or county.

Or better yet. Let me take the money I pay and put it into a 529 plan in Ohio and save it for college.

All are better solutions than the antiquated system that is currently in place.

There are guys out there that have to be chased down to pay. I can't say that I blame them for trying to run, but they should never skirt their responsibility and as a man, and parent, they need to step up and take care of their children. Get your ass in gear, put on your big boy pants, and do what is needed. The same goes for the ladies. Don't whine about how much this costs, that costs or how much of a deadbeat parent your ex is. You might only get a few hundred dollars a month, but think about it, your ex is giving you a few hundred dollars a month, and still buying the kids things that child support is supposed to cover. You made the decision to split up together. You both need to share that burden equally.

Don't ever assume your ex has more money, because when it comes down to it, you both think each of you is rich.

*as a note. My ex and I have a very good relationship when it comes to raising our kids. We are one of the few couples who have a cordial relationship. The situation described above is intended to spark a conversation, and not tell you that my ex is a bad person and that I am better. I am trying to illustrate the flaws in the system. This isn't the old time era of Dad's who don't care. My ex and I have a great mutual respect for one another and I suggest that you and your ex also put your differences aside to make sure the kids are raised to be productive members of society. The one redeeming quality of the system is that it takes the arguing about money out of the equation.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree! The system works very similarly here in CA and it punishes the dads! I'm all for helping pay for your kids, of course, but where does it end when you're paying child support and for clothes, extra curriculars, etc. And my hubbies ex doesn't work by CHOICE so why should we be punished when he chooses to get a better education and better paying job, thus owing more money! And there's no guarantee the money is going to be spent on the kid anyway. Don't get me wrong we pay our child support every month but I think the system is very much flawed and hurts the dads even the responsible ones!

Adan said...

@anon-I couldn't agree with you more. it's flawed, but I think no one has the courage to make a change.

The Bare Essentials Today said...

Wow, that system is definitely flawed. I agree completely about both parties being held accountable for the monies. Thanks for sharing your story, very insightful!

Anjeny said...

Isn't that usually how things work? A system set up or laws to help keep some order or something, then some people abuse it so basically the ones who are trying to live by said system or who are actually trying to do the right thing always ended up being the one getting the raw end of the deal?

Yes Adam, that system although it was a pretty good one, it is also flawed. It is pretty unfair that you have to pay child support that pays for pretty much everything that your child needs when at her mom's and then still pay for the same thing when the said child is at your home.

Although it may sound like flawed system, at least your child(ren) are still able to get some form of child support from you...there are a lot of kids out there who don't even get a penny from their dads.

Anonymous said...


You bring up something that I wanted to mention yesterday, before my comment was lost:

Should the one receiving the money be held accountable for how they spend it? I mean down to the penny. And should that money only be used for certain things? Should it be only for school and the related activities? Food? Shelter?

Because a lot of the time, that money goes into the recipient's general fund and then vanishes rather quickly with no record of where or how it was used. I imagine any system that kept track of these sorts of things, beyond a joint account monitored by some suit, would be a nightmare.

And then there are the things that dads spend their own money on, as you mentioned. What if someone were to start keeping track of that and deducting it from the monthly amount that you owe? To do that, one would have to agree that there are certain expenditures that fall outside what is expected to be covered by the support you DO pay. And then things get hairy . . .

For the record, I am not in this situation, and have never had to deal with it beyond hearing the stories of friends.

Great post. Much to chew on . . .

Anonymous said...

I must clear something up:

In yesterday's post, the writer mentioned that she DOES keep track of what expenses are being paid using her ex's support money. But are all people this diligent? And should they be forced to be?

Vodka Logic said...

Great debate and I think the relationship between the divorced parent is certainly key. It doesn't seem fair to pay support and then have to buy the things again at your own home. Obviously you are buying food and shelter for yourself and unless the child completely packs up their belongings each week somethings need to be duplicated.

I like the idea of taking money out of the equation to prevent bickering and who owes what. Taking it out of the pay helps prevent "deadbeat parents" but perhaps the math needs to be re-addressed.

Accountability sounds like a good idea. Especially for larger expenses as dance lessons or the like.

I am not in the situation nor ever have been, but like most know of it from friends and family.

Good luck to you both

The Zero Boss said...

In WA state, the support worksheet also considers how much time your kids spend with you. Does Ohio not?

I agree that there is unequal enforcement for visitation vs. paying support. That said, as a dad who pays a SHITLOAD in supporting five kids (one by first ex, four by my last), I have little sympathy for carping about support. I pay what the courts dictate, and work within that. I never want my kids to think I care about the money more than them. I don't account for money I spend on them when they're with me. If I have the extra, I take them out to play video games, go bowling, dine out, etc. If I don't, I play it cheap. I don't demand either of my exes account for what they spend, either.

I know too many moms who get screwed by exes on support - the men don't pay, they pay inadequately, they purposefully underwork/live off of their new spouses - to know it's just as hard on the other side of the equation. Men don't have a monopoly on child support sob stories.

Adan said...

I walk away for a second and everyone comments.

There are flaws, and many have asked, does the person receiving the money need to be held accountable? The answer is yes. Just like the perspn paying is being held accountable.

The relationship between the parents is also very important. If you're bitching and moaning the whole way, your kids WILL see that. I know. I was that kid once.

Anonymous said...

Im glad what you wrote isn't how it is in your situation because I'd tell you that you sound like an ass. You're right, the system is screwed up (both in the USA and in Canada). I AGREE COMPLETELY. But you still sound like an ass and truly could have found a better way to come across in your post.

I think, in the situation you say you have with your ex; you have custody 50/50, then YOU should not be paying child support and neither should she. But that's my opinion and it will probably never happen.

The whole point behind child support is so that the parents who has the children more often, receives financial help when it comes to providing for them (correct me if Im wrong, please, because this is what I was taught in my Law Classes throughout High School). If Person A & Person B literally have 50/50 custody, then neither should be paying the other anything.

I also believe that the person receiving the child support SHOULD be held responsible in providing receipts and any other proof they need to show that the child support is indeed being used for the child(ren). It's very easy to obtain receipts from companies, stores, schools, banks, etc.

I think that exes with children NEED to remain cordial and respectful of each other infront of and around their children. When you respect each other as adults should, then you're able to look at the child support in the way it was intended to be. You'll have no problems handing over money to your ex becuase you will then KNOW that your son or daughter is being financially taken care of.

Adan said...

@alex. I am who I am. I am an ass.

@zero boss. In ohio custody and child support are seperate issues in court. I do agree, I don't bitch n moan bout it, I care more about my child than the money.

Anjeny said...

Alex.... I don't think that Adam is trying to be an ass in this post even if he just politely agreed with you in his response to you that he is an ass. I think he did a pretty good job conveying his view from the other side of the coin so to speak.

Yes, there are a lot of deadbeat dads who don't give a rat's ass about their kids once they decided to take off yet on the same token, there are probably the same amount of vindictive ex wives out there who may want to punish their exes by missusing the child support money given them for the kids.

And no, before you start speculating if I'm an ex-wife in need of child support for my kids, I am married, no exes nor does my hubby has any either. But I was one of those kids who grew up without financial support and any form of communication from my father. I know how hard it was for my mom to have to work hard to support my siblings and I without the help from a father who decided to jump ship and never looked back.

I think that no matter how we look at this situation, there's always going to be a negative side and positive side to everything...although Adam claimed their system is flawed, it does serve its purpose.

I am actually glad that he took the time to write this post otherwise I would probably go on thinking that ALL the ex-husbands who leave their family are deadbeat dads.

Adan said...

@anjey. I'm literally standing up and clapping! There are plenty of dad's who care about their kids. My dad paid child support but did little else. My motivation in life is to be the father and dad to MY kids that I never had.

Unknown said...

OK see if you have shared custody how on earth do they think your child support is fair. I agree with you. In kentucky the most they can take for All child support is 30% of the man's gross income, ifhehas kids by different women ti does not chagne the total amount it smply lowers the amount each woman makes still not fair to the women either. IT is a no win situation in a lot of ways but the sad thing is there are derelict parents on BOTH sides not just the dad's

Vodka Logic said...

Just curious, if the parents share custody 50/50 and one parent earns a significant amount more money than the other why should that parent not pay support. That parent contributed to a certain life style when they were a couple, should they still not contribute the same.
If not perhaps that parent should provide more in material things, such as clothes shoes, tuitions etc. and perhaps even those extras kids like. Problem with that is there becomes the "favorite" parent b/c they can spend more on the children. [unfortunately some kids don't see or understand the difference between money and love]
Give child support and the kids don't know which parent has more.

Just wonderig

Unknown said...

I agree, the government likes to infer many things. One of which is that they know what is best for people. Like so many other problems the government creates they need to do so in an equitable fashion, they love playing Robinhood, but often times the "rich" aren't really "rich" to begin with. You have to encourage in this case, the parents to strive for a better paying job etc, and not have them trying to skirt their responsibilities or be punished for being able to secure something that is better for themselves and in turn their children.

Adan said...

@vodka. I ohio those two issues are seperate.

@joe. I also agree.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

okay all of you know way more than I do about this. but from what Adam wrote I finally see it from the guys point of view.

I really only have single friends that are Mom's... and usually only hear that side of the story.

But I can see how it would be grossly unfair to be expected to pay the child support plus double pay for when you have them half the time.

It just says something for the kind of character you have to realize that money isn't everything and that your child feeling of worth is.

Bravo on the post Adam. WELCOME!!!

Adan said...

@shelle. you are so nice. feels good to be here. finally a place I can talk, debate, and maybe piss a few people off, and be encouraged to do so.

Just Jules said...

Hi Adam... glad to see you came in with your guns ablazing :) I knew there was a reason I wanted you over here ....

So - I am so very happy I do not have to deal with this situation. I hope and pray I never do.

It is easy for women to rant and rage and b*tch and moan about things but rare for a guy to be allowed to do so. I tend to look at things from the guys point of view first (if I can) and work my way around to the woman. This is something that I agree for men has to be hard. has to be.

Great conversation you have going already Adam.

Just Jules said...

oh, and if I leave one more comment I smoke Sage off the top of the "Totally Cool Commentators That Have No Life Therefore Can Comment A Lot" board. Which really is cheating since Sage has a life this week and is out of town... but - sorry, you snooze you lose around here folks. :P

Adan said...

@jules. what the heck is up?!

watch out, I will come in and out commented all of ya'll

Anonymous said...

For the record, I never said you WERE an ass. I said you came across as one in your post. DESPITE this, I also said that I COMPLETELY AGREE with what you wrote.

And if your "maybe piss a few people off" comment was directed at me, I'm not pissed off. I've learned a long time ago that the majority of people, especially those who blog, think nothing like me. I commented, AGREED with what you said, but thought you could have wrote your post in a more tasteful manor. I believe that people can make a point (one I agree with or disagree with) without coming across the way I felt you did.

April said...

I've not read all of the comments and I honestly didn't finish reading your whole post because I got so pissed off! How in the hell is it that you have to pay a DIME when you have 50/50 custody????? That is the most unfair thing I've ever heard. If you're splitting time equally with the child, then child support should never even have been an issue. Oh man, this just pisses me off. I can tell you with complete honesty that if you were my husband and we were getting divorced and decided to split the time with the child 50/50, then I wouldn't want you to pay me any money. I would ask that you split medical bills, school costs, clothing, etc. with me and that's it! Ugh, the system sucks for men!