The current laws are set up to disincentivise shared parenting and create a situation where there is a custodial parent and a visitor. The reason for this is that SSA Title IV Part D specifically rewards the states based on how much support they collect, matching up to dollar for dollar. This means that the money we all contribute towards OUR social security, is being funneled to the states. While there needs to be some incentive towards enforcing support in cases where a parent chooses to entirely leave the family, the following elements would make the law more just while making the sure that it really is set up with the interests of the children in mind.
- Shared parenting is the default regardless of prior arrangements, unless a parent does not want their share, or has a proven inability to do so (severe mental illness, substance abuse, violence etc…)
- Anything less must meet the same burden of proof as criminal trials, as constitutional rights should only be able to be taken away in criminal cases. Contempt proceedings can trump those rights currently, thus anything leading to contempt must meet that standard.
- Right of first refusal should be by default and irrevocable. Barring anything in paragraph 2, there should not be resources utilized to care for the kids if the other parent is available and willing.
- Caps. No more than fixed percentage of income, and no more than a specified amount per child (whichever is less) as appropriate for the geographic region. A spouse is not a retirement plan nor an insurance policy.
- Accountability. Child support should be audited to ensure that the parent is spending the money on the children.
- Penalties must be addressed. License suspensions must be removed as the possibility of incarceration. Adding another mouth to feed in the prison system while removing an individual from the workforce does nothing to help the children nor the state. Those pathological enough to choose this alternative over receiving what support they do get, should not be the ones allowed to dictate their children’s future.
- No payment in alienation cases. Should a parent be found to be alienating the other parent, support should be removed.
- Income calculations must be capped at a 40 hour work week, exclude overtime, and based on actual income and not hypothetical income. Currently the law allows for courts to make up their own numbers without the need for any evidence.
- Penalties for false domestic violence/abuse accusations. This does not mean that every case where abuse is unproven has the tables turned on the other party, but should there be evidence (i.e. a recording of threats of false accusations) then the other party should serve and equal or harsher penalty for making such accusation.
- Remove Title IV-D funding from sates not compliant with the basic outlines.
- Substantially limit child support amounts in shared custody cases. Several states that do have shared parenting, have created child support guidelines that still maximize transfer of funds from one party to the other with the goal of collecting Title IV-D funding. Being divorced should not be a taxable source of revenue!
- Reform family court procedure. An individual should be able to navigate this arena without the need for a costly attorney, therapists, expert witnesses, GALs, and many others. This alone will reduce a massive financial burden in our society, and pass that on to our children. A social worker should be appointed instead of a GAL. We do not need lawyers deciding what is best for children, but those who actually know mental health and families.
- Jury trials. Currently the same judges who benefit from the Title IV-D revenue are the ones deciding the cases. This is a clear conflict of interest. An impartial jury would be removed from these incentives and best able to rule on the matter.