NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

September 2, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Continuing from Friday with the latest Bolch fiasco.

Bolch pretends that, since money is fungible, there’s no way we can ascertain what a custodial parent is spending her child support money on. Of course if we were to take seriously the problem many fathers have with feeling their money doesn’t go to the child but to the mother who wants nothing to do with them except the bi-weekly check, we could establish as system much like our food stamp one. That is, we could denominate certain child-specific items (e.g. diapers) that could be bought with a child support debit card and other items (e.g. alcohol) that couldn’t be.

That would solve the problem at least for the most part. But Bolch is convinced the only way we can conclude that child support isn’t going to the child is if this happens:

And if the parent with care is not properly providing for the child despite being given the means to do so, then that may be grounds for a change of residence (to use the old terminology).

Yes, it may be, and I may be able to fly to the moon. How many times, when he was practicing law, did Bolch see a change of residence ordered based on how child support was being spent by the custodial parent? Once? My guess is he didn’t see it even that often. The reasons are many. First, such a thing is almost impossible to prove. Second, bringing such an action that’s so unlikely to succeed is simply beyond the means of most fathers. Third, even if Dad proves that Mom is misspending the money, how likely is it that a change of residence would be ordered? Answer: not very.

Bolch might refer to the study done by Trinder, et al that the Stowe blog wrote up several years ago. It analyzed almost three hundred post-divorce applications made almost invariably by fathers. In none of them was a change of residence ordered. In short, Bolch’s “solution” to the problem is no solution at all.

Having failed, moves on.

Then there is the ‘shared care should happen in every case, therefore, there is no need for child maintenance’ argument. The problem, of course, with this is that it conflates two entirely separate issues: the issue of which parent, if any, should pay child maintenance, and the issue of how much time the child should spend with each parent. The two issues are actually entirely separate.

Except of course they’re not. Suppose Mom has the child 29 days out of the month and Dad just one. Who does Bolch suppose spends more money on the child? Surely even he can see that Mom fed the child three times a day for 29 days and Dad did so just once. Ergo, Mom spent more and so Dad should pay Mom something to make up the difference.

Now, if Mom has the child for 15 days and Dad does the same, those everyday expenses tend to even out, right? So there should be no need for Dad to pay Mom. Of course not all expenses for children occur regularly; some are one-time or once-a-year things. So health insurance, school clothes and the like aren’t automatically evened out simply by an equal parenting time schedule. For those expenses, the higher earner should bear a bit more of the burden.

But only in a world truly apart from reality are the matters of child support and parenting time “entirely separate.” As usual, Bolch, in the face of the status quo he worships, has abandoned critical thought.

What if, as is likely to often be the case, one parent has a substantially higher income than the other? Would it be fair in such a case that each party pays half of the cost of bringing up the child? Or should the better off parent pay more? 

No, what’s fair is that each parent bear the consequences of his/her own actions. If Dad spent long hours in school, educating himself for a well-paying career and in fact earns a good salary and Mom doesn’t, what’s fair is that, when Mom walks away from the marriage, Dad lives a better lifestyle than does Mom.

Second, if Mom’s so incapable of earning that she can’t even bear the cost of supporting the child she decided to have (not a huge amount of money), then maybe she shouldn’t be the custodial parent.

Third, Bolch fails to notice that the above quotation directly contradicts his earlier claim that child support isn’t spousal support, as so many non-resident fathers allege. After all, if we’ve gone from simply supporting the child to telling Dad to pay more because he earns more, we’re perilously close to telling him to contribute to Mom’s lifestyle.

Let’s say it takes $800 per month to pay the expenses of raising the child. Dad earns $60,000 per year and Mom earns $40,000 and they each have the child half the time. Why not just call it even? Each can afford the $400 per month it takes to raise the child, so if we tell Dad to send Mom, say $500 per month in child support, how is that anything but contributing to her lifestyle?

And as I said, if Mom earns so little that she can’t afford to pay her half of the cost of the child’s upkeep, shouldn’t we seriously consider removing the child from her custody and placing it with Dad? After all, we don’t want the child to live in poverty, do we?

The reason that these perfectly obvious concepts play no part in either custody or child support law is that those laws are aimed at a transfer of income from men to women. That was explicitly made clear in the U.S. in the late 80s and early 90s when state legislatures adopted obviously flawed science to support child support guidelines that sent many a father to the poorhouse. They continue to this day and are doggedly defended by gender feminists for the same reason – the transfer of wealth from men to women.

I suppose I could suggest that Bolch do a bit of reading, but I very much doubt that doing so would have much effect.

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