Free Essay

Support

In: English and Literature

Submitted By humplove1
Words 1615
Pages 7
Brittany Witte
Professor Weller
ENG W131
21 November 2010
Child Support: Then and Now What is child support? According to dictionary.com, child support is defined as payment made for the support of the children of divorced or separated parents while the children are minors or until they reach an age set by the separation agreement or in a court order (Dictionary.com). This argument will show the changes in child support over the last fifty years, along with statistics that show how many people are in need of child support. The research will also show what the current child support laws and enforcement regulations are at present day.
Child support started as far back as 1935, with a program that provided Aid to Families with Dependent Children, also known as the AFDC, this program would help families that met the established federal need requirements, receive monthly minimum payments from the state. One requirement that would qualify a family to receive a monthly payment would be if a child was not being adequately supported by a parent that was not around, and not paying support (Morgan). Basically, these benefits that the families were receiving from the government were a substitute for child support. This was the start of child support laws and enforcement. It was not until 1974, that there were more changes to child support laws. At this time, child support was to be shifted from the money coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets to making the absent parent being the one responsible for paying for the needs of the child. Congress passed the Family Support Act (FSA), requiring states receiving AFDC had to establish and enforce child-support obligations (Morgan). Morgan stated, “the goal of the government was to reduce the federal cost of the AFDC program by sharpening enforcement of child support obligations: the more child support collected, the less the cost of the AFDC to the federal government.” The government was trying to cut back on spending, and this really was a great way in doing so. Someone finally realized that the absent parent should be the one helping pay for the needs of the child, not the taxpayers and government. In 1984, Congress passed the Child Support Enforcement Amendments (CSEA) of 1984. This act was to help reinforce child support obligations of the non-custodial parent. This act required employers to issue income withholding orders from non-paying parents for one month, establish liens on the property of these parents, and also deduct from federal and state tax returns if there was an unpaid amount of support (Morgan). These were three major changes that affected many people. This act helped so many parents and children who needed the support, and there were not many ways of a non-paying parent to get around having to pay child support.
In 1987, the start of setting up child support guideline came about. Congress wanted guidelines drawn up and used nationally, so that all states were on the same level in regards to child support enforcement. In 1992, the Child Support Recovery Act was established, and that brought about delinquent parents being criminalized for not paying child support to a child that lived in another state (Morgan). This was a major change in child support enforcement, because people who were ordered to pay support could not up and move to another state and get off not paying anything to help their child. In present day, the government is still working on enforcing child support obligations, and finding ways to hold parents accountable for payment.
According to the United States Census Bureau, in the spring of 2008, an estimated 13.7 million parents had custody of 21.8 million children under the age of twenty-one, while the other parent lived somewhere else. Of those 13.7 million custodial parents, 7.4 million or 54 percent had some type of agreement or court order to receive financial support from the non-custodial parent for their children (Custodial). The majority of these agreements, 6.8 million, were reported by the custodial parent as formal legal agreements and 600,000 were informal agreements or understandings between the parents (Custodial). These statistics are quite large, but it is very interesting to see that barely half of the custodial parents that should have some form of child support agreement or court order actually have one with the non-custodial parent. When custodial parents without agreements and those with informal agreements with the non-custodial parent were asked why a form of legal agreement was not established, the top three reasons given were: that they did not feel the need to go to court to get a legal agreement, the other parent provided what he or she could, and they felt that the other parent could not afford to pay support (Custodial). These answers from the custodial parents seem quite mind boggling, the support from the non-custodial parent would be beneficial to the child’s needs. It is a possibility that the parents do get along very well that they do not need to go to court, but for almost 6.3 million custodial parents to not have a legal agreement for child support does not seem fathomable. Not only is the United States working on child support laws and enforcement, but so is Great Britain. According to the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, the Child Support Agency (CSA) will be replaced by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Agency (C-MEA) in 2011, due to the many failures of the CSA’s enforcement on child support. The CSA was costing more to run the agency, than it did to help families and enforce laws. The agency was decent at helping custodial parents seek support from the absentee parent, but it was failing at actually collecting anything from non-custodial parents who just refuse to pay anything. The new C-MEA’s message is to communicate to non-custodial parents must take full financial responsibility for their children (Jones 335). This article was interesting to see how child support enforcement was similar to the United States. It was nice to see that not only does the United States care about their children’s rights, but also Great Britain, a whole other country. I think that what Great Britain is doing to improve their system is commendable because their ultimate goal is to help families.
There are many demographic characteristics that the United States Census Bureau pointed out in its report from 2007. For example, mothers accounted for 82.6% of custodial parents, while the other 17.4% were fathers, this proportion remained statistically unchanged since 1994 (Custodial). Other factors were whether or not the custodial mothers had be married or remarried, the education levels of the custodial mothers, and the age of the custodial mother over the last fourteen years. Education level has increased amongst custodial mothers, which is a great thing, it means that more single mothers are getting the chance to graduate high school and some even get associate’s degrees now more than ever. In Indiana the Child Support Guidelines are pretty cut and dry. The parents have to fill out a child support obligation worksheet, when starting the process of determining how much child support the non-custodial parent will have to pay. The factors that go into the worksheet are both parents weekly gross income, weekly child-care expenses, the cost of health insurance for the child, and sometimes the non-custodial parent can receive a parenting time credit depending on the visitation schedule. When it comes to paying child support, and having parenting time, the two do not go hand in hand, although the support can be slightly lowered for parenting time credit, whether the non-custodial parent pays or not, if parenting time has been established by the court, the non-custodial parent has a right to visitation with the child. Child support amount can be modified once every twelve months as long as the amount currently differs by at least 20% of what the support was set at one year ago (Child).
In conclusion, child support is something that every child needs and deserves. Whether or not the non-custodial parent wants to have a relationship with that child is one thing, but no matter what, that parent has a financial obligation to the child. Statistics are looking up for child support enforcement; the government really seems to be taking this seriously and trying to look into ways to improve what they can do to hold non-custodial parents accountable. Government agencies have come a long way in the last fifty years to keep the taxpayers from paying the support for the people that refuse to. Every child deserves any and all help financially from their parents; it is not the child’s fault that the parent’s relationship did not work out, so the child should not have to suffer.

Works Cited
“Child Support Rules and Guidelines.” Indiana Rules of Court. 1 Jan. 2010.
< http://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/child_support/#g3>. 12 November 2010.
“Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007.” U.S. Census Bureau.
November 2009. < http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/p60-237.pdf> 12 Nov.
2010.
Jones, Jackie, and Claire L. Perrin. "Third time lucky? The third child support reforms replace the Child Support Agency with the new C-MEC." Journal of Social
Welfare & Family Law 31.3 (2009): 333-342. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO.
Web. 7 Nov. 2010.
Morgan, Laura W. "Child Support Fifty Years Later." Family Law Quarterly 42.3 (2008):
365-380. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 7 Nov. 2010.

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