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Former Husbands: Courts Say “Pay Up!” The High Cost of Child Support

child support payments

Many fathers are stunned when their attorney shows them the probable amount they will be paying in child support. They have no problem with the concept itself, but the amount—often up to 25 percent of their gross income—leaves them reeling.

Men cite two big problems when considering child support: the fact that their living expenses are not considered in the equation and the lack of control they have over the way the money is spent.

The United States Department of Agriculture determined that the cost of raising a child through the age of 18 in a middle class family with around $235,000. The large cost is for housing, while other expenses are also calculated in the equation such as food, healthcare, clothing and education. Based on these costs, many states formulate “guidelines” that take into account the payors income. In New York, for example, 17 percent of gross income is considered about right for one child. For a man making $76,000 per year, that translates into child support payments of more than $1,000 per month. Some states, like New York, have also raised the child support payment age termination to 21 from 18, forcing dads to pay child support longer.

The ironic part is that many fathers want to support their children. However, they resent writing a check to an ex-spouse, especially when they suspect the money is going toward vacations or new wardrobes for mom rather than toward expenses for the child. Many men even recognize that mothers may have suffered career setbacks, pay gaps and years of tedious child-raising chores, but are still put off by the lack of control over whether the money goes where it is intended.

The spouse who usually makes the money is most often male. This means that males will generally pay child support. Even if you split time equally with the children, the spouse with the higher income still often pays more. While joint custody agreements may lower the amount of money paid, it is not always a guarantee that a judge will recognize “equal time” as a substitute for support.

There are no easy solutions to the child support problems that plague fathers and courts around the nation. A father’s best bet is usually to start out with solid, professional legal counsel to protect his rights in the early stages of a divorce. This will often allow him to lay the groundwork for a fair divorce settlement that provides support for the children as well as protects his assets to the greatest extent possible.

Source: Huffington Post, “Child support: Paying your fair share?” Morghan Leia Richardson, August 14, 2013.