Agenda for the 21st Century
Child Support Agenda for the 21st Century
Parents should have equal status by default
Partners should know about paternity
All children should have been accepted children
Eliminate sex discrimination from child support
There should be no Treasury saving or state compulsion
Child support should be formally awarded to the children
Use a formula to determine the amount
Have closer ties between child support administration and family courts
Use a symmetrical formula that treats both parents similarly
Household benefits/credits should not be treated as income
Amounts should relate to spend on children, not wealth
Also - Exclusions from the Agenda for the 21st Century
Also - A method of judging proposals
Also - International Agenda for the 21st Century
Related topic - Can Child Support Agencies ever work?
Related topic - The 21st Century is making the reformed scheme obsolete
Home & weblog
Blog archive & site history
Site map & search

Amounts should relate to spend on children, not wealth

What?

Even if it is felt desirable for children to share in the wealth of their parents, sharing can't be done just by the NRP handing over lots of money to the PWC. It won't all be spent directly & fully on the children, for example as pocket money, food, clothes, etc. Research shows that children in better off households don't get such a large amount extra directly spent on them. The better off parents spend on average perhaps 20% more than the poorer parents. The advantage children get isn't mainly from the easy to measure direct expenditures such as these.

Why?

First, get back to basics. There is no universal or logical principle that a father (or for that matter a mother) must support his children. This is simply something that a society, at some point in time, may decide should happen. Western societies have so chosen, for various reasons. I think it is useful - others don't (always).

This doesn't say to what extent they should support the children. It is up to a society to decide whether children should share in the wealth of their parents. (It is also up to a society to decide whether this means social parents or bio-parents or some other sorts of parents).

The UK is moving from a "liability to maintain" model to a "share in the wealth" model, and changing quite a few laws & throwing away previous arrangements to do so. I don't have a hang up about this (I'm not affected!) but I do believe that the way it is being done is badly thought out. There are too many implications that are not being questioned properly.

How?

For some of the advantages, the only fair way that children can share in them is to spend part of their time living with each parent. They can eat caviar when the wealthy parent does, swim in the pool, ride in the Roller, etc. And in this way, "child support" is more than money.

If the NRP doesn't want to share care, then the NRP will have to pay lots of money anyway instead!

If the children don't want to spend part of their time with an NRP willing to share their care, then the NRP has satisfied the requirements by making the offer. The payment can then be close to the "Small Fortunes" amount. The children have a responsibility to cooperate in having wealth shared with them - and if they don't, so be it. (The PWC also has a responsibility to create an environment where the children are willing to share in the wealth this way).

For other advantage, perhaps some of the money beyond the "Small Fortunes" amount should be placed in savings accounts & trust funds for the children to use later. It is probably very useful for the child support to be awarded to the children rather than to the PWC.

References

Relationship to other Agenda items
Parents should have equal status by default

Using a symmetrical formula enables a child to share a little in the wealth of the parents by means of child support.

However, the main impact is that children can only really share in the wealth of their parents by living with them, not by a transfer of money (see below). Therefore, what is needed is a system that helps children live with both separated parents for part of the time, and then benefit from a symmetrical formula for being supported according to means of paying when parents are absent from the child.

Use a formula to determine the amount
Use a symmetrical formula that treats both parents similarly
Other pages in this web site
Does it make sense for children to share the wealth of their parents? My view is: Children should share in the wealth of their parents even after separation. But it is impossible to have fair & workable "wealth sharing" using a child support system.

On the whole, the only fair way that children can share in the wealth of their parents is to spend part of their time living with each parent. They can eat caviar when the wealthy parent does, swim in the pool, ride in the Roller, etc. And in this way, "child support" is more than money. If the NRP doesn't want to share care, then the NRP will have to pay lots of money anyway instead!

"The cost of children" - overview and summary If child support really is about supporting children, then it is about paying for goods and services needed by the child, or desirably spent on the child, while it is growing up. There is dispute about what is "necessary" and what is "desirable", and how these should be catered for in any formula. But it is useful to have a baseline to start with, in the form of a checklist about what goods and services are involved.
Potential lobby groups
   
Other relevant external links
Evidence to the Social Security Select Committee in November 2000 In evidence to the Social Security Select Committee in November 2000 Sue Middleton said: "We also found, at first sight strangely, that average spending did not vary greatly with income of a family; about 20 per cent from the bottom quartile to the top income quartile."

Claimed reply on a CSA form:
"From the dates it seems that my daughter was conceived at Euro Disney - maybe it really is the Magic Kingdom."

Page last updated: 17 December, 2003 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2003