Child Support Reform

Letter to President trump to reform child support.

 Title IVd of the Social Security Act provides Federal $$ incentives to states to create fatherless homes.  

President Donald Trump, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500, https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Dear Mr. President;

I am calling on President Trump to modify the child support provisions of the Social Security Act to ensure that children have a continuing nurturing relationship with both parents.

As currently written the Social Security Act provides financial incentives to the states to remove a parent from their child by labeling them a “non” custodial parent. States are reimbursed for for establishing paternity, number of child support orders entered, amount collected versus amount owed, collection of arrears, and the cost of the program (collections versus expenses).  It does not provided any incentive for parents to get, or stay, married and outside of marriage for a shared parenting arrangement.  Nor is there any incentive for access enforcement for a parent to access to their child. 

Married parents and those parents who have a shared parenting arrangement outside of the child support collection system place no burden upon federal coffers.  Even within the system, as studies have shown, a parent with shared parenting currently pay child support on time and in full in over 90% of cases thus lessening the burdens upon government agencies.  Studies have shown that for those parents in default on child support assessments the overwhelming reason is an inability to pay the amount charged. Nowhere in the system are states rewarded for policies which encourage the active involvement of both parents negating the need for welfare benefits in the first place, including marriage.

When child support was enacted in the early 1980s we had about 7% of children living in single parent homes. Additionally, we had a divorce rate in single digits. Over the next 20 years our divorce rate skyrocketing to 50% and the number of children living in single parent homes is now over 40%. I’m sure government bureaucrats would argue that the increase in the need for child support enforcement corresponds to these increases but the few studies that have been seem to indicate otherwise.  The adage goes, “you get what you pay for” and the federal child support enforcement system paid the states to generate unmarried “custodial” and “non custodial” parents to enhance the number of child support orders entered.  

Ironically through the years of declining marriage rates we have seen an increase in shared parenting arrangements.  The most recent NYS Quadrennial Review even calls for changes within the child support collection system to more closely match how parents raise their children with both parents equally responsible for children financially and emotionally.  Absent married biological parents, studies have shown that children fare best with two active and involved parents.  Unfortunately the current system of federal reimbursement to the states provides incentives for single parent homes only. 

Due to sexual bias towards mother custody we now have about an 85% mother custody rate which equates to 34% of children in the United States who live absent their father (85% custody rate X 40% single parent households).  Contrary to the “deadbeat” dad myth, the number one reason a father doesn’t spend more time with his children is the limitations of a court order and number two is a “custodial parent” who interferes with their access due to no access enforcement (a federally funded study showed 40% of custodial mothers admit to interfering with access).  And while the system is taking credit for “paternity establishment” it is widely recognized that well over 80% of out of wedlock birth father are in the hospital at the time of birth and are willing to be a parent to their child.  Cleary, the “dead beat” is actually a beat dead, often dead broke, and disenfranchised father.

Indeed, one does wonder why we have a Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement when the issues of parents and families have been reserved to the states under our US Constitution.  That said, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement is under the Administration for Children and Families within the US Dept. of Health and Human Services which oversees the payments of federal dollars to the states.  Both individually and collectively we call on President Trump to repeal the perverse incentives which reward states to create unmarried parents and “non” (custodial) parents which creates single parent households to the detriment of children, both parents, and families in these United States.