Problems relating to child support

 

All parents have an obligated to support their children!

The Family Justice Review Committee believes in a number of basic principles when it comes to the issue of child support.  Some of these principles are:

  • All parents have an obligation to contribute to the support their children.

  • That both parents must be treated fairly and that financial obligations should reflect the financial situation of the parents including their obligations to second spouses and second families.

  • Support payments intended for children from one relationship should not undue hardship to other children.  All children should be entitled to equal treatment.

  • Child support should not be an incentive for litigation.

  • Child support should benefit the child, not the parent collecting the support. Spousal support where applicable should be kept as a clear and separate issue.

  • Taxpayer-funded government child support collection agencies should be utilized only when shown to be necessary.  Use of government collection agencies should be the exception, not the rule.

  • That separated and divorced parents should not be forced to support adult children and should have the same rights and obligations as parents who are not separated or divorced.

Child support has become a major issue in recent year with the term "deadbeat" being used to label those parents who for a variety of reasons do not pay their child support.  Although a number of parents do default on their obligations, unfortunately, a large number of parents who are in default of child support payments have been forced into that position because the system has persecuted them and "beat them dead" 

SOME EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES PROMOTE PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND REDUCE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN COLLECTION OF CHILD SUPPORT

Although it must be recognized that there will always be some parents (both mothers and fathers) who intentionally try to avoid their child support obligations, the vast majority of parents are more than willing to assume their responsibility when they are being treated fairly by the system and being allowed to have meaningful relationship with their children.   In fact, the least amount of problems with collection of child support exists with families where non-custodial parents have liberal and reasonable access to the children.  The Family Justice Review Committee believes that problems relating to child support issues can be reduced by incorporating the following principles in any policies.

  • That both parents should be given the equal opportunity of shared responsibilities in raising the child through a shared parenting arrangement.  When both parents know that they have a legally recognized status in their child's life, then both parents will focus on maintaining their status by being the best parent they can rather than trying to get the other parent out of the child's life and risk having their parenting status removed by the court.

  • That parents be given the opportunity to pay support payments without intervention of government collection problems.  History of child support by government collection agencies has shown that involvement of the government has often been the cause of parents going into arrears.  In many cases it has been reported that money paid into government collection agencies has failed to reach the children even when it had been shown to have been paid.  Parents who are to receive child support must be able to justify why taxpayers must subsidize collection and why other non-government involved alternatives will not work.

  • Where child support is being paid by one parent to another, then some level of accountability should be required by the parent who collects child support should it be claimed that child support payment are being abused.  This does not mean that the parent who receives child support must account for every little thing that they buy but that major expenses should be accounted for or a budget determined so that both parents know how the money is being spent.

  • Provide bother parents the opportunity of contributing something directly to the child such as being allowed to buying clothes for the child, etc.   For example, rather than one parent paying money to one parent and only one parent making all of the purchases for the child, let the support payer purchase some of the necessities for he child.  This is also beneficial to the child because the child sees BOTH parents taking the time and contributing the money to their necessities.

  • Implement policies and procedures to implement policies to help ensure that a custodial parent does not interfere with a child's access to another parent.  It has been shown that access denial is one of the major reasons why parents do not pay their support and why collection of child support can become a major problem.

  • Support payments should be fair and based on evidence submitted.  The income of parents should not be imputed by the courts.  The premise that every individual must be innocent until proven guilty must prevail.  If the support payer provides reasonable evidence to the court of their income and the opposing parent cannot provide any reasonable evidence to disprove the evidence of that parent, then the courts should base child support levels on the financial information decision based on the evidence before it.  Many simple and inexpensive strategies exist that will allow a parent who is trying to get child support from another parent to gather reasonable evidence

  • Where one or both parents are on government welfare and it can be shown that BOTH are able to provide for the children in accordance to the "best interest of the child" criteria, then a preference should be given to the parent who can support the children without reliance on government welfare payments.  This incentive will encourage parents who may currently be relying on welfare to break out from the cycle of welfare dependency.

Some possible alternatives

Below is one possible example of a child support payment arrangement that would allow parents to effectively deal with the issue of child support without the involvement of taxpayer-funded government collection services.

Step One

As the first step the parents will open up a joint bank account in both of their names to be used strictly for the exchange of child support.

Step Two

The support payer will deposit the required support payment into this bank account prior to the date that payment is due each month.

Step Three

The support recipient will then withdraw the money as required.  This could be taken in one lump sum or in smaller amounts as required.  Individual purchases for the child could be made directly from the account in order to have a record of where money was being spent. This would give the non custodial parent some accountability which may help avoid hostile feelings.

 

Under this one possible scenario, the banks themselves become the record keepers with the parties themselves paying only the small monthly service fees associated with any ordinary account.  Those who use the system, pay for the system.  Even parents who may be separated by great distances can make deposits and withdrawals conveniently at a bank through electronic banking with a joint account.   Where there is some concern about the payers ability to be consistent then the payer could be ordered to pay a cushion into the account in advance.  For example a parent could deposit a cushion of three months payments which would give the recipient time to deal with any problems that the payer may encounter.  Only when a parent has demonstrated that they are unable to maintain their payment on time, would the government step in to intervene on behalf of the support recipient.

 

The advantages of such a system of child support payment exchange are as follows:

  • No intervention of government collection agencies is required with less intrusion into the family and less duplication of services.

  • The parties themselves, not just the government would take primary responsibility for their own routine financial affairs. The government would only become involved when problems were confirmed to exist.

  • Both parties would have convenient access to account records through their local bank without addition service charges.

  • Record keeping by government agencies of routine transactions would be eliminated.  This would eliminate the many problems due to poor records and parents being unable to make contact with government collection agencies.  Currently government records are difficult if not almost impossible to obtain conveniently and with certainty.

  • Taxpayers would save a considerable amount of money with the costs associated with unnecessary administration and paperwork.  Only the difficult cases would be handled by the government.

  • The government will not be held liable for accounting and procedural problems.  The parties themselves will assume some responsibility rather than all blame being placed on the government.

  • Giving parents the opportunity to handle their affairs themselves will help to free up valuable government resources which in turn can be used to help the most needy parent collect money from those payers who are are failing to meet their child support obligations.

  • Increased efficiency and better service by the government collection agencies

  • Improved respect of collection agencies by taxpayers as well as users of the system.

In cases where it is alleged that a parent is in default of child support and reasonable evidence exists to support this claim, The Family Justice Review Committee may conduct an investigation of the facts.  Where is found that persons have been determined through a proper investigation by the committee to be in default of their support obligations, then The Family Justice Review Committee will assist parties to take the appropriate steps to collect the overdue child support.