November 30, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
This continues yesterday’s piece on Michigan child support data (MLive, 11/27/17).
Recall that, although the article never mentions shared parenting, its information fairly shouts in favor of it. That’s because, to at least a significant degree, equal parenting would simply displace child support. When each parent has the child half-time, we can assume that each is paying, if not equally, then sufficiently. That of course would confer a host of benefits on children, parents, courts and the public purse.
Today, we find the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services congratulating itself on collecting child support, i.e. justifying the existence of its collection efforts. Those efforts cost taxpayers a whopping $234.4 million in 2015, the year for which these statistics are reported.
The federal government funded 67.4 percent, the state funded 16.5 percent and Michigan counties funded 16.4 percent.
However, MDHHS says that for every $1 spent on Michigan’s child support program, $5.76 was collected in support for Michigan’s children.
MDHHS prides itself on that ratio. But,
Of the $1.36 billion collected in child support in 2015, $1.07 billion -- or 79% -- was collected by employers withholding child support from parents’ paychecks, according to MDHHS.
If Michigan is like other states, when a family court issues a child support order, it states that the amount is to be taken from the paycheck of the non-custodial parent by his/her employer. The order is then sent to the employer who withholds the amount from the person’s paycheck and sends it to the state for disbursement.
In other words, in almost 80% of cases, MDHHS does little if any “collection.” Indeed, its entire function can be viewed as simply a needless complication to a simpler, more efficient system. Instead of sending the money directly to Mom, the employer sends it to the state who, all too often, manages to lose it, steal it, charge a fee for handling it, delay its delivery, etc. About all the state does is keep records of amounts received and disbursed and, not unusually, errs in doing so.
In short, state child support collection is, to a great extent, a waste of taxpayer’s money. And again, shared parenting would greatly reduce the need for child support at all and therefore the need for state involvement and the costs associated therewith.
Most of the rest of the article concerns subjects with which readers of this blog are all too familiar. For example, about 43% of children in Michigan are born to unmarried mothers. That’s the same as the country generally, so, in that regard, Michigan is par for the course.
In recent years, almost 43% of Michigan babies are born to unmarried women. That compares to 24% in 1989.
In 2015, about 494,881 child support cases -- 56% of the total -- involved children born outside of marriage had a Michigan child support case, according to MDHHS.
So 43% of children produce 56% of the child support cases. That’s another good argument for only having children within a married relationship. The simple truth is that men who aren’t married when their partner has a child are less connected to the mother and the child than are their married counterparts. Unsurprisingly, that results in more mothers having to go to court to get a child support order that’s harder to enforce because Dad is less connected. All of that of course costs the state money.
And let’s not forget,
Among families with children, the poverty rate is about six times higher for single mothers compared to married couples. About 27% of Michigan households with children are headed by a single mom.
The article avoids mentioning it, but single mothers with children are over twice as likely to live in poverty as are single fathers with children. That has nothing to do with the amount of child support either receives and everything to do with the fact that men are more likely than women to work at all, more likely to work full-time, work longer hours and at higher-paying jobs. That all militates in favor of paternal custody as long as our system insists on appointing a primary or sole custodian.
As before, shared parenting would significantly reduce the number of children living in poverty. It would free mothers to work, earn and save more and, by having little Andy or Jenny spend half time with the parent who, on average, is the higher earner, shared parenting would improve children’s financial status.
The MLive article is timely. Without ever saying a word about shared parenting, it argues powerfully in its favor. And it does so at the most propitious time – when Michigan legislators have the opportunity to establish shared parenting as the presumption in child custody cases.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
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