Shared Care & the child support formula
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Should child support be linked to access?
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Should child support be linked to access?

Should the level of child support awarded be linked to the amount of access / contact / shared-care of the non-resident parent for the children? If so, how?

Various views

People have different views:

"Linking maintenance to contact ... will damage children by making contact a financial battle ground. The residential parent will deny contact because (s)he cannot afford the reduction in income and the non-residential parent will pursue it not because of interest in an increased relationship with the child but because of a reluctance to pay." (Press release from The Family Law Consortium 7/7/99: "New CSA scheme bound to fail").

"Why should I pay maintenance for a child I'm not allowed to see as often as I should?" (Common response from thwarted fathers).

"Why should I pay maintenance for a child I didn't even want?" (Common response from reluctant fathers).

"If I personally spend money on the child while I have access / contact with it, my payments should be reduced by a corresponding amount". (Common response from fathers who spend significant amounts directly on the children).

So having contact should:

  • not affect the payment
  • increase the payment
  • decrease the payment

Well, that was easy! If only all aspects of child support could achieve a consensus so quickly!

The answer

If "child support" really is for supporting children, then:

  • If a separate agency is established to look after the financial aspects, it should not also have the responsibility of engineering contact with the children.
  • Child support is about payment of money to be used to support children, and should be treated as such.

Contact / access / shared-care should reduce payments by taking into account:

  • The reduced direct expenditure of the person who is therefore caring for the child less.
  • The increased direct expenditure of the person who is therefore caring for the child more.
Page last updated: 7 July, 2004 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003