Child support.† A term that causes so much conflict and animosity between parents, and yet it really shouldnít.
I overheard a mom, the custodial parent, tell a friend that the father had not paid support in over 2 years.† He stopped paying when she began dating.† Not the first time Iíve encountered such a conversation and unfortunately not the last.† The worst was the contractor who offers to lay off his workers and pay them under the table to avoid wage garnishing.† How nasty.
I fail to understand why for some parents, support payments are looked upon so harshly by the paying parent.† They seem to resent each and every penny which makes no sense.† The federal guidelines are built o≠n the principle that both parents should share the same portion of their income with their child as they would if they had continued to live together.
The custodial parent is already paying for housing, food, clothing, school related and recreation related activities.† These payments go towards sharing in the responsibility of these costs.† Iíve heard paying parents complain that the receiving parent is blowing Ďtheirí money o≠n a new car or new shoes.† Well so what.† If the custodial parent is receiving their support then they should be able to afford to live a lifestyle equal to the paying parent.
According to the Department of Justice ďFamilies spend more o≠n their children as family income increases, with the proportion of family income devoted to children remaining the same across all levels of income.Ē† Therefore the "cost of raising a child" depends o≠n how much income, and how many children the family has.
It doesnít mean that the custodial parent has to be destitute before support can kick in.
As for trying to claim the new spouse should be paying and therefore the paying parent should be off the hook, child support is the joint responsibility of both parents, not their new spouses.† If the parents were together they would share in the cost of raising the children, they should also share when apart as well.†† Parental responsibility is the key.
The receiving parent is expected to contribute to the costs of raising the children in proportion to his or her income. The standards of living of the children and the custodial parent are interrelated because they live together. Any money that the custodial parent spends o≠n the household also benefits the children.
Not paying comes with some pretty stiff consequences.† The government through the Family Responsibility Office can collect funds from federal sources such as income tax refunds and employment insurance benefits.† They can also report the non-paying parent to the credit bureau, seize their bank account or asset, suspend their passport, seize lottery winnings and suspending their driver's licence.
The most serious consequence is to the kids.† The custodial parentís life is stressed financially creating stress in the home.† Children often forgo activities and see a significant reduction in the lifestyle they were accustomed to.† As always the kids are caught in the middle.
Viewing the payment charts available o≠nline, the costs donít seem particularly prohibitive.† According to statistics in 2002 it costs $160 000 to raise a child to the age of 18.† Thatís just under† $9 000 a year o≠n average.† A person in Grey and Bruce earning the county average of $39 000 a year would pay $337 a month for o≠ne child and $557 a month for two children.† For o≠ne child thatís less than half of the cost or raising a child, for two itís down to 37% of the cost of raising a child.
Non-payment of support does not punish the custodial parent, paying it doesnít elevate their lifestyle above the non-custodial parents lifestyle.† The guidelines are specific, it is to balance the two households so they have the same lifestyle and both parents take responsibility in assuming the costs of raising the children they had.
If you didnít volunteer to have the children, and they were unplanned, thatís unfortunate, but it doesnít negate the responsibility.
The Family Responsiblity Office
Child Support in Canada
Note: Francesca Dobbyn is a columnist and writer living in Bruce County Ontario.
Submitted by: Francesca Dobbyn * †
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