Ohhh DISCLAIMER: These are all merely my thoughts and based on my personal experience, and I am by NO WAY advertising this as a legal professional or a child support specialist.
Recently I recorded a podcast episode discussing the who that benefits from child support. As I said before, hopefully it’s your kids. Needless to say, I got some feedback from people saying that there are many individuals, both men and women, who misuse and abuse the system. Guess what, it’s like that in a number of social programs. No matter what it is, food stamps, utility assistance, federal aid, you name it. Hell even in gambling, coupons clipping, people who scam websites outta free stuff; some people just find ways to take advantage of systems in order to get a come up, better know as benefiting at someone else’s expense. So child support is no different. As I said, people, BOTH men and women, use the system to their advantage, completely neglecting the welfare of their children, in order to either get more money into their pockets, or keep money from going out of them.
So as I promised on the podcast (episode) let’s break down the reality of what is known as the Child Support System in the United States of America.
Child support is for the purpose of supporting the mental, social, physical, and economic welfare of a child/ren who are living separately from one parent. AKA, it’s a system created to take care of children when the parents don’t live together, or don’t make it in a relationship/marriage. Therefore the premise is; children should be able to benefit from, at the minimum, the lifestyle that would have been afforded to them had both parents remained in a partnership. For instance, if you make $45,000 and your ex makes $55,000, that means your child would have essentially grown up in a household that brought in $100,000 per year. As such, the courts will now take both parents income into account when determining a child support amount. Therefore, child support is based on how much a difference “financially” a child is missing out on now that they are not living in the same home as both parents. Essentially either mom or dad, depending on who the child lives with, will have to financially make up the difference. It is in that financial contribution where most people have the problem. (We will get into that later).
Next, housing and medical insurance. Most of the time children are left with the mother, although this is not always the case; but in most instances the mother receives sole custody of the children. This means, that she will have to ensure the child has adequate medical coverage, housing, and access to childcare etc. These accommodations must be (should be) equal to that of hers. For the sake of this post, we’ll assume that neither the mother nor the father receives any type of public aid or assistance. So let’s say that a single woman has a one bedroom apartment, and then she get’s pregnant, and now want’s a bigger space in order to allow her and her child to live on the same level as she was once living. So now her 1 bedroom $700 per month apartment, has to become a $900 per month 2 bedroom. On the same hand, her $250 per month medical insurance, will now become a $430 per month family plan. Since I was once an insurance agent, I will also let you know that her deductible will also double. So increases there as well.
Now let’s talk about the fun stuff… Childcare cost, diapers, and wipes, and clothes, Oh MY GAWD, this sh!t really adds up. As a solo parent, having to invest in things like childcare was overwhelming. At first it was easy, I worked from home, and could afford part time care. It was a mere $500 per month, because my son only went four hours per day, four days per week. Then, full time care kicked in, and kicked my butt with the rates. I started seeing $250 per week, $300 per week, the prices just seemed to keep going up up up. I had to start considering things like home care, family, or ways to majorly lower my cost. None of that paid off in the childcare arena, but in the other areas like clothes and diapers, my baby shower came through for me. Thankfully I got two diaper cakes, and tons and tons of other diapering essentials, and I did not have to worry about diapers until my son was almost 7 months old; buuuttttt, after those few glorious months of free diapers wore off, I was easily paying anywhere from $100-$150 per month on diapers for home and making sure he had some at daycare. Clothes, don’t even get me started. I’ll say this much; my son did not get name brand clothing, because I still had a life to uphold, and debt isn’t pretty.
In my situation my son’s father lives in another state, and therefore I was completely responsible for all of my son’s day-to-day needs. So once again, child support “should” consider these things when determining a monthly amount, but I guarantee you, it does not. The average childcare cost for a newborn in my tri-state area is about $900-$2000 per month. Finally, when it comes to clothing, you will be buying new clothes every 3 months, so go ahead and budget that in. They never took into consideration that I had to pay upfront cost, I had to drive my son everywhere, I had to pay for more food, and my electric bill goes up; nope these expenses are not included. This is not a venting session, it’s a reality check for anyone who is considering raising a child alone, or unsure about filing for child support or not.
Now here we are at the end of this fun budget journey, well the end of what I want to summarize anyway, and now we can see how a single (co-parenting mom) is not winning by receiving a small amount of child support, the average being less than 1/3 of a non-custodial parent’s salary.
Single Girl (No Kids)
the rest of her incidentals are small and manageable
Roughly about $1200-$1500 per month going towards expenses
Single Mom (1 Kid)
$200 (every 3 months) or $70 (ish) per month for average clothing essentials
Regular incidentals did not change, merely slightly increased because now you must account for the random needs of your child.
Roughly about $3000 per month just from having one child that you want to live at your level or better in life. I guarantee that you are not going to receive more than $1000 per month in support, unless you’re lucky.
Point is this. Child support isn’t a win for parents. It’s merely a system designed to keep a checks and balance on men who are absent fathers, or women who aren’t actively raising their children on a daily basis. As far as the stereotype goes, women aren’t really getting rich off of child support, many of us have learned to live without it, because many of the women I know, do not get it. We are finding new ways to save, spend our money wiser, or we are just actively looking for an opportunity to get out of this dysfunctional rat race they call a Child support system. The system is broken, and could really benefit from a change. I don’t know how that change is going to happen, but I would definitely like to be brought to the table.
I don’t win from receiving, or NOT receiving child support. I pay for sitters, food, doctors appointments, all school expenses, and everything. Not to mention all the stress falls on me. So tell me again how one little check a month is really changing my life? Don’t worry I’ll await your answer. All I’m saying is that the money does help me slightly maintain our lifestyle without me feeling completely and utterly wiped out in every way. What it doesn’t erase is the lack of physical, mental, and social help we need. In the end, I hope we can find more beneficial ways for men and women to continue paying child support, but until we do, I guess we’ll have a flawed system where kids are the real victims who suffer the most.