Child support
Overview
In family law
Family law
Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:*the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;...

 and public policy, child support (or child maintenance) is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Child maintenance is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee for the care and support of children of a relationship that has been terminated, or in some cases never existed.
Encyclopedia
In family law
Family law
Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:*the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;...

 and public policy, child support (or child maintenance) is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Child maintenance is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee for the care and support of children of a relationship that has been terminated, or in some cases never existed. Often the obligor is a non-custodial parent. The obligee is typically a custodial parent, a caregiver, a guardian, or the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

.

Depending on the jurisdiction, a custodial parent may pay child support to a non-custodial parent. Typically one has the same duty to pay child support irrespective of sex, so a mother is required to pay support to a father just as a father must pay a mother. Where there is joint custody, the child is considered to have two custodial parents and no non-custodial parents, and a custodial parent with a higher income (obligor) may be required to pay the other custodial parent (obligee).

In family law
Family law
Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:*the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;...

, child support is often arranged as part of a divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

, marital separation, dissolution of marriage, annulment
Annulment
Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void. Unlike divorce, it is usually retroactive, meaning that an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning almost as if it had never taken place...

, determination of parentage or dissolution of a civil union
Civil union
A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights,...

 and may supplement alimony
Alimony
Alimony is a U.S. term denoting a legal obligation to provide financial support to one's spouse from the other spouse after marital separation or from the ex-spouse upon divorce...

 (spousal support) arrangements.

The right to child support and the responsibilities of parents to provide such support have been internationally recognized. The 1992 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a binding convention signed by every member nation of the United Nations and formally ratified by all but Somalia and the United States, declares that the upbringing and development of children and a standard of living adequate for the children's development is a common responsibility of both parents and a fundamental human right for children, and asserts that the primary responsibility to provide such for the children rests with their parents. Other United Nations documents and decisions related to child support enforcement include the 1956 New York Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance created under the auspices of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, which was ratified by the vast majority of UN member nations.

In addition, the right to child support, as well as specific implementation and enforcement measures, has been recognized by various other international entities, including the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, the European Union and the Hague Conference
Hague Conference on Private International Law
The Hague Conference on Private International Law is the preeminent organisation in the area of private international law....

.

Within individual countries, examples of legislation pertaining to, and establishing guidelines for, the implementation and collection of child maintenance include the 1975 Family Law Act
Family Law Act 1975
The Australian Family Law Act 1975, sometimes referred to as the FLA by legal practitioners, is an Act of the Australian Parliament. It is one of four separate Acts that provide the framework for family law in Australia...

 (Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

), the Child Support Act (United Kingdom) and the Maintenance and Affiliation Act (Fiji) Child support in the United States
Child support in the United States
The law governing child support in the United States varies state-by-state and Native American tribe-by-tribe; each individual state and federally recognized tribe is responsible for developing its own guidelines for determining child support....

, 45 C.F.R. 302.56 requires each state to establish and publish a Guideline that is presumptively (but rebuttably) correct, and Review the Guideline, at a minimum, every four (4) years. Child support laws and obligations are known to be recognized in a vast majority of world nations, including the majority of countries in Europe, North America and Australasia, as well as many in Africa, Asia and South America.

Legal theory

Child support is based on the policy that both parents are obliged to financially support their children, even when the children are not living with both parents. Child support refers to the financial support of children and not other forms of support, such as emotional support, physical care, or spiritual support.

When children live with both parents, courts rarely, if ever direct the parents how to provide financial support for their children. However, when the parents are not together, courts often order one parent to pay the other an amount set as financial support of the child. In such situations, one parent (the "obligee") receives child support, and the other parent (the "obligor") is ordered to pay child support. The amount of child support may be set on a case-by-case basis or by a formula estimating the amount thought that parents should pay to financially support their children.

Child support may be ordered to be paid by one parent to another when one is a non-custodial parent and the other is a custodial parent. Similarly, child support may also be ordered to be paid by one parent to another when both parents are custodial parents (joint or shared custody) and they share the child-raising responsibilities. In some cases, a parent with sole custody of his or her children may even be ordered to pay child support to the non-custodial parent to support the children while they are in the care of that parent.

Child support paid by a non-custodial parent or obligor, does not absolve the obligor of the responsibility for costs associated with their child staying with the obligor in their home during visitation. For example, if an obligor pays child support to an obligee, this does not mean that the obligee is responsible for food, shelter, furniture, toiletries, clothes, toys or games, or any of the other child expenses directly associated with the child staying with the non-custodial parent or obligor.

In most jurisdictions there is no need for the parents to be married, and only paternity
Paternity (law)
In law, paternity is the legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a man and a child usually based on several factors.At common law, a child born to the wife during a marriage is the husband's child under the "presumption of legitimacy", and the husband is assigned complete rights,...

 and/or maternity
Mother
A mother, mum, mom, momma, or mama is a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child, and/or supplied the ovum that grew into a child. Because of the complexity and differences of a mother's social, cultural, and religious definitions and roles, it is challenging to specify a universally...

 (filiation) need to be demonstrated for a child support obligation to be found by a competent court. Child support may also operate through the principle of estoppel
Estoppel
Estoppel in its broadest sense is a legal term referring to a series of legal and equitable doctrines that preclude "a person from denying or asserting anything to the contrary of that which has, in contemplation of law, been established as the truth, either by the acts of judicial or legislative...

 where a de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

parent that is in loco parentis
In loco parentis
The term in loco parentis, Latin for "in the place of a parent"" refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent...

for a sufficient time to establish a permanent parental relationship with the child or children.

Child support vs. contact

While the issues of child support and visitation or contact
Contact (law)
In family law, contact is one of the general terms which denotes the level of contact a parent or other significant person in a child's life can have with that child...

 may settlement, in most jurisdictions the two rights and obligations are completely separate and individually enforceable. Custodial parents may not withhold contact to "punish" a noncustodial parent for failing to pay some or all child support required. Conversely, a noncustodial parent is required to pay child support even if they are partially or fully denied contact with the child.

However, a custodial parent who is intent on depriving the child of contact with its non-custodial parent cannot currently be stopped from doing so. There is no mechanism available to non-custodial parents to enforce access. Child support payments, on the other hand, are enforced by virtually instantaneous sanctions with or without evidence and regardless of the obligee's ability to pay or of the actual legitimate needs of the child. Dr. Stephen Baskerville describes in detail how as much as two-thirds of 'child' support is actually profit to the custodial parent.

Additionally, a non-custodial parent is responsible for child support payments even if they do not wish to have a relationship with the child. Courts have maintained that a child's right to financial support from parents supersedes an adult's wish not to assume a parenting role.

While child support and contact are separate issues, in some jurisdictions, the latter may influence the former. In the United Kingdom, for example, the amount of support ordered may be reduced based on the number of nights per week the child regularly spends at the non-custodial parent's home.

Use of child support payments

All international and national child support regulations recognize that every parent has an obligation to support his or her child. Therefore, both parents are required to share the responsibility for their child(ren)'s expenses
Cost of raising a child
The cost of raising a child varies from country to country.-Developing countries:According to Globalissues.org, "Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day." This statistic includes children. On this number, it costs roughly US$900 to raise a child for a year,...

.

Support monies collected are expected to be used for the child's expenses
Cost of raising a child
The cost of raising a child varies from country to country.-Developing countries:According to Globalissues.org, "Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day." This statistic includes children. On this number, it costs roughly US$900 to raise a child for a year,...

, including food, shelter, clothing and educational needs. They are not meant to function as "spending money" for the child. Courts have held that it is acceptable for child support payments to be used to indirectly benefit the custodial parent. For example, child support monies may be used to heat the child's residence, even if this means that other people also benefit from living in a heated home.

Child support orders may earmark funds for specific items for the child, such as school fees, day care or medical expenses. In some cases, obligors parents may pay for these items directly. For example, they may pay tuition fees directly to their child's school, rather than remitting money for the tuition to the obligee. Orders may also require each parent to assume a percentage of expenses for various needs. For instance, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts, custodial parents are required to pay for the first $100 of annual uninsured medical costs incurred by each child. Only then will the courts consider authorizing child-support money from a non-custodial parent to be used for said costs.

Many American universities also consider non-custodial parents to be partially responsible for paying college costs, and will consider their income in their financial aid determinations. In certain states, non-custodial parents may be ordered by the court to assist with these expenses.

In the United States, obligors may receive a medical order that requires them to add their children to their health insurance plans. In some states both parents are responsible for providing medical insurance for the child/children. If both parents possess health coverage, the child may be added to the more beneficial plan, or use one to supplement the other. Children of active or retired members of the U.S. armed forces are also eligible for health coverage as military dependents, and may be enrolled in the DEERS program at no cost to the obligor.

Accountability regulations for child support money vary by country and state. In some jurisdictions, such as Australia child support recipients are trusted to use support payments in the best interest of the child, and thus are not required to provide details on specific purchases. In California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, there is no limitations, accountability, or other restriction on how the obligee spends the child support received, it is merely presumed that the money is spent on the child. However, in other jurisdictions, a child support recipient might legally be required to give specific details on how child support money is spent at the request of the court or the non-custodial parent. In the United States, 10 states (Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, and Washington) allow courts to demand an accounting on expenses and spending from custodial parents. Additionally, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 courts have authorized such accounting under certain specific circumstances.

Obtaining child support

Child support law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s and regulations vary around the world. Legal intervention is not mandatory: some parents have informal or voluntary agreements or arrangements that do not involve the courts, where financial child support and/or other expenses are provided by non-custodial parents to assist in supporting their child(ren).

A major impetus to collection of child support in many places is recovery of welfare expenditure. A resident or custodial parent receiving public assistance, as in the United States, is required to assign his or her right to child support to the Department of Welfare before cash assistance is received. Another common requirement of welfare benefits in some jurisdictions is that a custodial parent must pursue child support from the non-custodial parent.

Court procedures

In divorce cases, child support payments may be determined as part of the divorce settlement, along with other issues, such as alimony, custody and visitation. In other cases, there are several steps that must be undertaken to receive court-ordered child support. Some parents anticipating that they will receive child support may hire lawyers to oversee their child support cases for them; others may file their own applications in their local courthouses.

While procedures vary by jurisdiction, the process of filing a motion for court ordered child support typically has several basic steps.
  1. One parent, or his or her attorney, must appear at the local magistrate or courthouse to file an application or complaint for the establishment of child support. The information required varies by jurisdiction, but generally collects identifying data about both parents and the child(ren) involved in the case, including their names, social security or tax identification numbers and dates of birth. Parents may also be required to furnish details relating to their marriage and divorce, if applicable, as well as documents certifying the identity and parentage of the child(ren). Local jurisdictions may charge fees for filing such applications, however, if the filing parent is receiving any sort of public assistance, these fees may be waived.
  2. The other parent is located, and served a court summons by a local sheriff, police officer, or process server. The summons informs the other parent that they are being sued for child support. Once served, the other parent must attend a mandatory court hearing to determine if they are responsible for child support payments.
  3. In cases where parentage of a child is denied, has not been established by marriage or is not listed on the birth certificate, or where paternity fraud
    Paternity fraud
    Paternity fraud refers to a paternal discrepancy or a non-paternity event, in which a mother names a man to be the biological father of a child, particularly for self-interest, when she knows or suspects that he is not the biological father. The term entered into common use in the late 1990s. It...

     is suspected, courts may order or require establishment of paternity. Paternity may be established voluntarily if the father signs an affidavit
    Affidavit
    An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public...

     or may be proven through DNA testing in contested cases. Once the identity of the father is confirmed through DNA testing, the child's birth certificate may be amended to include the father's name.
  4. After the responsibility for child support is established and questions of paternity have been answered to the court's satisfaction, the court will notify the obligor and order that parent to make timely child support payments and establish any other provisions, such as medical orders.

Calculating the amount

Various approaches to calculating the amount of child support award payments exist. Many jurisdictions consider multiple sources of information when determining support, taking into account the income of the parents, the number and ages of children living in the home, basic living expenses and school fees. If the child has special needs, such as treatment for a serious illness or disability, these costs may also be taken into consideration.

Guidelines for support orders may be based on laws that require obligors to pay a flat percentage of their annual income toward their children's expenses. Often two approaches are combined. In the United Kingdom, for instance, there are four basic rates of child support based on the obligors' income, which are then modified and adjusted based on several factors. In the United States, the federal government requires all states to have guideline calculations that can be verified and certified. These are usually computer programs based upon certain financial information including, earnings, visitation, taxes, insurance costs, and several other factors.

Change of circumstances

Once established, child support orders typically remain static unless otherwise reviewed. Obligors and obligees reserve the right to request a court review for modification (typically six months to one year or more after the issuance of the order or if the circumstances have changed such that the child support would change significantly). For instance, if the obligor has a change in income or faces financial hardship, they may petition the court for a reduction in support payments. Examples of financial hardship include supporting other children, unemployment, extraordinary health care expenses, etc. Likewise, if the obligor is spending more time with the child, they may petition the court for a reduction or even a reversal in support payments. Conversely, if the child's expenses increase, the obligee may ask the court to increase payments to cover the new costs.

Although both parents have the right to petition the court for a support order adjustment, modifications are not automatic, and a judge may decide not to alter the amount of support after hearing the facts of the case. That is to say, simply because an obligors's income has decreased, a court may find that the decrease in income is of no fault of the child, and will not decrease the child's expenses, and therefore should not have an impact on him or her financially. Likewise, a court may find that an increase in the child's expenses may have been calculated by the receiving parent and is not necessary, and therefore the support obligation of the paying parent should not increase.

In United States law, the Bradley Amendment
Bradley Amendment
In United States law, the Bradley Amendment requires state courts to prohibit retroactive reduction of child support obligations...

 (1986) requires state courts to prohibit retroactive reduction of child support obligations. Specifically, it:
  • automatically triggers a non-expiring lien whenever child support becomes past-due.
  • overrides any state's statute of limitations.
  • disallows any judicial discretion, even from bankruptcy judges.
  • requires that the payment amounts be maintained without regard for the physical capability of the person owing child support (the obligor) to promptly document changed circumstances or regard for his awareness of the need to make the notification.

Distribution and payment

Child support payments are distributed in a variety of ways. In cases where an obligor is liable for specific expenses such as school tuition, they may pay them directly instead of through the obligee.

In some jurisdictions, obligors (paying parents) are required to remit their payments to the governing federal or state child support enforcement agency. The payments are recorded, any portion required to reimburse the government is subtracted, and then the remainder is passed on to the obligee (receiving parent), either through direct deposit or checks.

The first payee for child support depends on the current welfare status of the payee. For example, if the obligee is currently receiving a monthly check from the government, all current support collected during said month is paid to the government to reimburse the monies paid to the obligee. Regarding families formerly on assistance, current support is paid to the family first, and only after said support is received, the government may then collect additional payments to reimburse itself for previously paid assistance to the obligee (receiving parent). See 42 USC 657: "(A) Current Support Payments: To the extent that the amount so collected does not exceed the amount required to be paid to the family for the month in which collected, the State shall distribute the amount so collected to the family.".

Within the United States, a 2007 study conducted through the University of Baltimore estimates that 50% of all child support arrears are owed to the government to reimburse welfare expenses. Half of U.S. states pass along none of the child support they collect to low-income families receiving welfare and other assistance, instead reimbursing themselves and the federal government. Most of the rest only pass along $50.00 per month. The bipartisan 2006 Deficit Reduction Act and other measures have sought to reduce the amount of money claimed by the government and to ensure that more funds are accessible by children and families, noting that more obligors (paying parents) are willing to pay child support when their children directly benefit from payments.

Duration of support orders

The duration of support orders varies both by jurisdiction and by case. Requirements for support typically end when the child reaches the age of majority
Age of majority
The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of...

, which may range in age from 16 to 21 (New York State) or graduates from high school. Some countries and states have provisions that allow support to continue past the age of majority if the child is enrolled as a full-time, degree-seeking post-secondary student. If the obligor owes back child support, they must continue to make payments until the debt is satisfied, regardless of the age of the child.

Several circumstances exist which allow for the termination of a support order for a child under the age of majority. These include the child's marriage, legal emancipation or death.

"Dead-beat" parents

When referring to child support obligors who have developed arrears with respect to their child support obligations and shared expenses, and refuse to pay, the colloquial term dead-beat parents has been coined. The use is often extended to obligors who are in arrears in a blanket manner, including those who are willing, but unable, to pay. While "dead-beat" is a pejorative used by some in the media and some child support advocacy groups, it is not the legal term used to describe such parents. Governmental child support agencies typically describe clients as being in compliance, not in compliance or criminally non-compliant. Compliance is judged by the paying party's performance in meeting the terms of the legal child support court order. In some circumstances, obligors found "not in compliance" or "criminally non-compliant" have even had their professional (e.g. doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc.) and driver's licenses suspended or revoked in an effort to collect monies for support and shared expenses.

Enforcement

Regulations and laws on the enforcement of child support orders vary by country and state. In some jurisdictions, such as Australia, enforcement is overseen by a national office. In others, such as Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the responsibility to enforce child support orders rests with individual provinces, with financial and logistical assistance from the federal government. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 child support enforcement is also handled largely at the state level, but non compliant parents who meet certain criteria, such as traveling across state lines to circumvent orders or owing more than two years of support payments, may be subjected to federal prosecution under the Federal Deadbeat Punishment Act.

One focus of Article 27 of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child
Declaration of the Rights of the Child
The Declaration of the Rights of the Child is the name given to a series of related children's rights proclamations drafted by Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb in 1923....

 is the establishment and strengthening of international treaties to further aid in child support order enforcement across national and international boundaries. Under these agreements, orders established in one country are considered valid and enforceable in another country, and may be pursued through local court processes. The goal of such conventions is to ensure that noncompliant parents will not be able to evade support payments by crossing an international border.

To this end, various international conventions regarding interjurisdictional enforcement of maintenance orders have been created, including the Hague Conference's 1973 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions relating to Maintenance Obligations and the 1956 United Nations Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance.

More than 100 nations currently have reciprocal arrangements for child support orders. Examples of reciprocal agreements include the UK Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) and those of Canada, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, the United States and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

Consequences of non-payment vary by jurisdiction, the length of time the parent has been noncompliant, and the amount owed. Typical penalties include wage garnishment and denial or suspension of drivers, hunting and professional licenses. In the United States, noncompliant parents who are more than $2500 in arrears may be denied passports under the Passport Denial Program. Australia, Austria, and Finland do not imprison persons for failure to pay child-support arrears. In the U.S., in contrast, non-payment of child support may be treated as a criminal offense or a civil offense, and it can result in a prison or jail term. On a typically day, roughly 50,000 persons are incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons as a result of child-support debts. In addition, child-support debtors are subject to fines and property seizure.

The enforcement provisions affecting US passports have thus far survived Constitutional challenges in Weinstein v Albright
Weinstein v Albright
Weinstein v Albright 261 F.3d 127 is the seminal case challenging passport denial for child support arrearage under 42 USC 652, enacted as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act in 1996.__FORCETOC__...

 (2001), Eunique v Powell (2002), In re James K. Walker
In re James K. Walker
In re James K. Walker is a case challenging the denial of passport issuance due to child support arrears under 42 USC 652, enacted in 1996 as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act....

 (2002), Dept of Revenue v Nesbitt
Dept of Revenue v Nesbitt
Dept of Revenue v Nesbitt was a legal case in the state of Florida, United States of America challenging passport denial for child support arrearage under 42 USC 652, as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act enacted in 1996.__FORCETOC__-Facts of the Case:After a Florida...

 (2008), Risenhoover v Washington (2008), and Borracchini v Jones
Borracchini v Jones
Borracchini v. Jones is a case challenging passport denial for child support arrearage under 42 USC 652, enacted as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act enacted in 1996 and modified by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.-Holding of the Court:In a unanimous opinion the...

 (2009).

Laws in specific jurisdictions

Child support in the United States
Child support in the United States
The law governing child support in the United States varies state-by-state and Native American tribe-by-tribe; each individual state and federally recognized tribe is responsible for developing its own guidelines for determining child support....

 varies state-by-state and tribe-by-tribe; each individual state and federally recognized American Indian tribe is responsible for developing its own guidelines for determining child support.

For information on child support policies in specific countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, please see Child support by country
Child support by country
This article includes information about the child support policies of several countries.- Australia :In Australia the Child Support Agency calculates child support based on the income of each parent, a base amount is excluded, and the amount of time the child spends with each parent...

.

Effectiveness

A possible side effect from a capitalistic economy such as the United States, the child support system has become a good source of revenue for civil courts, attorneys and parents. It has been argued that United States Child Support laws encourage parents into a legal "tug-of-war" which results in a severe loss of time and income first from both parents (such as legal fees, court costs, and time off work), and finally to the parent who loses in court (typically the father). The premise of the law is to protect the children. In actuality, it is argued, the children are hurt the most by the system due to the alienation of the non-custodial parent. It has been recognized by various government committees that parents are alienating each other both from themselves and from their children. Non-custodial parents feel they are nothing more than a bank account to the family and can get pushed out due to increased hours at work or having to accept a second job to pay support money. This leaves little or no time for the non-custodial parent to focus on time spent with the children.

Attorneys and judges may not want to forfeit the revenues from such a lucrative "business" and there is a pejorative label given to non-custodial parents who resist the child support. They're labeled as "dead beat dads".

Trends from within the United States today are pushing for an adjusted system. Many groups are demanding a more hands-off approach where government does not micromanage the family. These trends may encourage change in local and Federal laws.

Child support industry

Currently the $500 billion child support industry, a small subset of the divorce industry, is being criticized by some groups for its apparent prioritization towards the needs of:
  • State governments (which may collect $2 from the Federal Treasury for every $1 collected from non custodial parent).
  • Perpetuated media stereotypes (violent male roles, victimized, incompetent female roles, and the image that children require support from two parents at all times).
  • The various agencies and legal workers whose operation depends on the existence of child support conflicts.
  • The parent who would be more favored in a ruling to receive payments (such as when a father's small contribution would be pointless to a wealthy mother).


These reasons are generally referred to when discussing the side-effects of child support conflicts such as:
  • The lost opportunity to put the money towards something mutually beneficial to both parents and the child simultaneously.
  • The non-custodial parent becoming equivalent to "a criminal without due process rights" (Involuntary Servitude
    Involuntary servitude
    Involuntary servitude is a United States legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person's will to benefit another, under some form of coercion other than the worker's financial needs...

    ).
  • The non-custodial parent viewing the custodial parent as someone who uses the law for financial gain ('using' the child's existence as an income stream).

Criticism

Current child support guidelines and policies have been criticized by fathers' rights advocacy groups.

Melanie McCulley, a South Carolina attorney coined the term male abortion in 1998, suggesting that a father should be allowed to disclaim his obligations to an unborn child early in the pregnancy. Proponents hold that concept begins with the premise that when an unmarried woman becomes pregnant
Pregnancy
Pregnancy refers to the fertilization and development of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, in a woman's uterus. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations, as in the case of twins or triplets...

, she has the option of abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, adoption
Adoption
Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities from the original parent or parents...

, or parenthood; and argues, in the context of legally recognized gender equality
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

, that in the earliest stages of pregnancy the putative (alleged) father should have the same human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 to relinquish all future parental rights and financial responsibility—leaving the informed mother with the same three options.
McCulley states:

'When a female determines she is pregnant, she has the freedom to decide if she has the maturity level to undertake the responsibilities of motherhood, if she is financially able to support a child, if she is at a place in her career to take the time to have a child, or if she has other concerns precluding her from carrying the child to term. After weighing her options, the female may choose abortion. Once she aborts the fetus, the female's interests in and obligations to the child are terminated. In stark contrast, the unwed father has no options. His responsibilities to the child begin at conception and can only be terminated with the female's decision to abort the fetus or with the mother's decision to give the child up for adoption. Thus, he must rely on the decisions of the female to determine his future. The putative father does not have the luxury, after the fact of conception, to decide that he is not ready for fatherhood. Unlike the female, he has no escape route'.
McCulley's male abortion concept aims to equalize the legal status of unwed men and unwed women by giving the unwed man by law the ability to 'abort' his rights in and obligations to the child. If a woman decides to keep the child the father may choose not to by severing all ties legally.
This same concept has been supported by a former president of the feminist organization National Organization for Women
National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership of 500,000 contributing members. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S...

, attorney Karen DeCrow
Karen DeCrow
Karen DeCrow is an American feminist attorney, author, and activist. Beginning her career as a journalist, she joined the National Organization for Women in 1969, and in 1969 she ran for Mayor of the city of Syracuse, New York, becoming the first female mayoral candidate in the history of New York...

, who wrote that "if a woman makes a unilateral decision to bring pregnancy to term, and the biological father does not, and cannot, share in this decision, he should not be liable for 21 years of support...autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice."

The legal concept was tried in Dubay v. Wells and was dismissed. This was not surprising, since legislation in the various jurisdictions currently sets forth guidelines for when child support is owed as well as its amount. Accordingly legislation would be required to change the law to implement McCulley's concept.

See also

  • Child custody
    Child custody
    Child custody and guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child.Following ratification of the United...

  • Costs of raising a child
  • Joint custody
    Joint custody
    Joint custody is a court order whereby custody of a child is awarded to both parties. In joint custody both parents are custodial parents and neither parent is a non-custodial parent, or, in other words, the child has two custodial parents. In the United States, many states recognize two forms of...

  • Parental Alienation Syndrome
    Parental alienation syndrome
    Parental alienation syndrome is term coined by Richard A. Gardner in the early 1980s to refer to what he describes as a disorder in which a child, on an ongoing basis, belittles and insults one parent without justification, due to a combination of factors, including indoctrination by the other...

  • Parenting plan
    Parenting plan
    A Parenting Plan or Custody Agreement is required by the district court along with divorce paperwork when parents divorce or separate. A Parenting Plan allows parents to avoid future conflicts arising from a lack of guidelines in dealing with responsibilities relating to the children...

  • Shared parenting
    Shared parenting
    Shared parenting refers to a collaborative arrangement in child custody or divorce determinations in which the care of the children is equal or more than substantially shared between the biological parents.- Nature and History :...

  • List of largest divorce settlements


US specific:
  • Bradley Amendment
    Bradley Amendment
    In United States law, the Bradley Amendment requires state courts to prohibit retroactive reduction of child support obligations...

  • California Child Support Guideline Review
    California Child Support Guideline Review
    Each US state is responsible for developing a child support enforcement program that complies with federal requirements, including a Guidelines method of calculating child support. At a minimum, 45 C.F.R...

  • Child support in the United States
    Child support in the United States
    The law governing child support in the United States varies state-by-state and Native American tribe-by-tribe; each individual state and federally recognized tribe is responsible for developing its own guidelines for determining child support....

  • Hermesmann v. Seyer
    Hermesmann v. Seyer
    Hermesmann v. Seyer was a precedent-setting Kansas, United States case in which Colleen Hermesmann successfully argued that a woman is entitled to sue the father of her child for child support even if conception occurred as a result of a criminal act, like statutory rape, committed by the woman...

  • State of Louisiana v. Frisard
    State of Louisiana v. Frisard
    State of Louisiana v. Frisard, 694 So. 2d 1032 , established a legal precedent in Louisiana stating that a man is strictly liable for his sperm if he engages in consensual sexual contact...



UK and Australia:
  • Child Support Agency
    Child Support Agency
    The Child Support Agency is a delivery arm of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in Great Britain and the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland...

     (UK)
  • Child Support Agency Australia
    Child Support Agency Australia
    The Child Support Agency is an Australian Government organisation which was established in 1988 to administer the assessment and collection of child support under the Australian Government's Child Support Scheme.-Overview:...

  • Shared residency in English law
    Shared residency in English law
    Shared residence, or joint residence, refers to the situation where the child of parents who have divorced or separated reside with each parent at different times, and each parent has equal status in law. In English family law s8 Children Act 1989 defines a residence order as one "...settling the...

  • Childrens centre


Historical:
  • Childwite
    Childwite
    In medieval England, a childwite, or child-wit, was a fine paid by a man to a lord for unlawfully impregnating his bond-woman . The term was also selectively used of free women....


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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