Editorial: On the surface, income sharing sounds good

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 4, 2005

We’ve all heard the horror stories about non-custodial fathers who pay so much in child support they barely eek out a decent living for themselves. We’ve also heard about mothers caring for their children who live below poverty level themselves.

A bill before the legislature aims to overhaul the child support system in an effort to make it more equitable. Called income sharing, the new formula would take into account the incomes from both parents to determine the amount paid to the custodial parent.

The proposed formula would establish the basic cost

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of raising a child, assigning each parent a share of the expenses, proportionate to their income.

The way child support is now figured is outdated, say some legislators because is is based on a period in time when many women, frequently the custodial parent, didn’t work outside the home.

Some legislators also say the current system unjustly penalizes the non-custodial parent, frequently the father, for a failed relationship.

Critics, however, say the new model would take money away from children by reducing the amount paid to the custodial parent, who makes more than their fair share of financial sacrifices.

The problem with the state setting a cost for raising a child is it can be unrealistic, and won’t help either parent &045; and certainly not the children.

While we agree with the idea of cost-sharing &045; there are far too many non-custodial parents who shirk their financial responsibility to care for their children. Perhaps a more reliable method of collecting the estimated $1.6 billion owed in back child support should be the starting point for helping children. Then the legislature can address income sharing.