A Fair Shared-Care Formula for Child Support
by Barry Pearson
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1.6 Who are the winners and losers?

The obvious question is - who loses? The answer is - PWCs who share care and earn a significant amount of money currently get an unfair bonus from achieving the title "PWC", and with this formula lose that unfair advantage.

According to the White Paper, they should not only get Child Benefit (which the NRP doesn't), but also a substantial proportion of the NRP's income even where care is shared. This fair shared-care formula requires them for the first time to be financially responsible for the child while the NRP is caring. They will typically still receive child support, of course, but it will reflect the true savings to them from the caring performed by the NRP, and they will themselves have to recognise their own financial responsibility while they are not directly caring for the children.

Apart from them:

- the children win, because with the fair shared-care formula money tends to be transfered from the better-off to the poorer-off household specifically for the children;
- NRPs who commit themselves emotionally as well as financially to their children win, because their assessment fairly recognises their increased direct cost of providing for the children, as well as the PWC's reduced costs while the children are not there;
- taxpayers probably win, because this proposal transfers money from the richer to the poorer household under more circumstances, and so even an NRP on benefits will sometimes receive payments which reduce the benefits spend;
- and family life probably wins, because there is less financial incentive to separate when both parents want to share the care of their children.

1.7 What do other countries do?

A number of enlightened nations and states have approaches similar to this proposal. It is not a radically new approach, but one for which there is practical experience. These other countries include:

- Australia;
- New Zealand;
- United States of America - at least in the following states:
  - Alaska;
  - Indiana;
  - Kansas;
  - Montana;
  - Nebraska;
  - New Mexico;
  - South Carolina;
  - Wisconsin.

All of these territories cater for shared-care by examining the liability that each parent has towards to the other, then taking the difference between them.

The UK is in danger of becoming one of the less enlightened nations as far as supporting the assertion "children are entitled to the emotional and financial support of both parents" is concerned.

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Page last updated: 13 December, 2003 © Copyright Barry Pearson 2002