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?
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!
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.