Why is Child Support so Unfair to Fathers?

why is child support so unfair to fathers

Many men ask this question: Why is child support so unfair to fathers? My answer is, the subject of child support is so complicated that it’s hard to agree or disagree with the question. The amount of child support people have to pay (women have to pay it, as well) depends on many, many factors including: the state you live in, your judge, job status of both parents, ages of the kids, and more.

I recently got a comment from a divorced dad who wanted to share his point of view in regards to child support. I found it very smart and fair. They are words I think can help both men and women.

 

Submitted by a divorced dad:

 

Wanted to share some thoughts from a divorced dad who has 50/50 custody
and pays child support to a woman who divorced him. There was no
infidelity, no abuse, no drugs … nothing like that. Just a woman who was
unhappy and wanted a fresh start.

 

19 Tips for Those Facing a High Conflict Divorce

 

Obviously each person’s situation is different. There are women who are
abused or were cheated on etc. There are women who cheat or are abusive.
There are people who are simply not good people. I can’t speak to those.
But I can speak to how difficult it is to see things from each other’s
perspective and the challenges presented when each person feels
unappreciated.

We had a beautiful home together and worked hard to maintain a nice
lifestyle. Nothing extravagant, but we did well. She worked as a freelance
graphic designer and I as a director / producer. When she left we were
thrust into a world where we suddenly had to pay for two mortgages, two
electric bills, two heating bills, etc. with the same joint income.

She then decided to go back to school and spent an exuberant amount of money
for a degree in interior design. Her focus on obtaining her degree also
left her in a position where she eventually lost most of her clients and
her income continued to drop. After three years she is still struggling,
which honestly pains me as I want her to succeed and be happy.

Every blog I’ve read from a woman’s perspective discusses the stresses the
woman faces attempting to start over. However they seem to neglect the
fact that the ex-husband experiences the exact same stresses. He not only
has to make up the difference in income his wife once brought in, but now
often has to also help maintain her NEW home as well.

Meanwhile, he also faces the same business challenges and risks his ex-wife does. More than
likely he is also carrying responsibility for medical insurance on the
children. And then, her inability to find enough work to maintain this new
life of hers, becomes his problem. And the kids are the ones who suffer as
now neither parent can make ends meet.

 

The Center for Divorce Recovery

 

I personally believe that many women have a misperception of what life
will be like when they leave a marriage. They see the husband as the
problem, and often that’s not the case and their problems follow them into
their new life. And when they get slapped in the face with reality they
fail to recognize that the ex-husband is going through his own personal
hell as well and often doesn’t have the financial capacity to maintain his
own home, let alone part of his ex-wife’s.

Losing 1/3 of our household income hurt like hell and continues to bite me
in the butt each month. Having to make up that difference and then do it
again on her behalf is back breaking. And the stress that comes from
worrying that she may attempt to get more or that you’re going to have to
pick up the slack with school supplies, camps, sports fees etc. is mind
blowing. As a father who is very much involved in his children’s lives and
appreciates the need for them to have a relationship with both parents,
you’re kind of caught between a rock and a hard place.

You want there to be some semblance of harmony, but finding that balance between bending and
standing up for yourself can be a real challenge. And in many cases, the
courts are not much help and fail to recognize how much fathers are now as
much if not more involved in the raising of their children.

It feels very much like all divorces are looked at equally and that can’t
be farther from the truth. There are simply too many variations of
circumstances and being lumped into the misperception that women are more
nurturing and men should pay for their wife’s discontent feels very
unfair.

THAT is why men feel resentment.

Patricia Van Haren, Divorce Attorney

 

The one piece of advice I want to give to both men and women is, resentment, anger and hostility doesn’t help matters. It only hurts children. So, if you are paying every month and you are constantly trying to make things difficult for your ex, and acting hostile around him/her, you are really only hurting your kids. I’m not saying you don’t have a right to be upset about it, but try to realize what is in your control and what isn’t. That is a true path to peace.

 

Like this article? Check out, “I will Never Ever Get Married Again”

 

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Guy Grinning is a blog for men facing divorce and dating after divorce. It's kind of like hanging out with your platonic female divorced friend and hearing her perspective on your divorce and your love life issues.

22 Responses to “Why is Child Support so Unfair to Fathers?”

  1. Josh Hoch

    I am glad he took the time to write a comment. It is important to hear perspectives about child support from both moms and dads. Something I value as a divorce mediator is giving both parents the opportunity and time to work together to discuss child support and parenting plans that work for them – not what other families do – but what can work for their family. Keeping control over the outcome of divorce with the parents benefits them and their children and reduces future conflict. Bravo for the comment and for the hard work making 50/50 custody work.

    Reply
  2. not buying it

    He needs to understand that alimony and child support are separate. I don’t care how “wronged” you feel by your ex that has nothing to do with that fact that your children still have to live. Quality time is great but it doesn’t buy food or clothes. If you’re both struggling them maybe you need to change some things — sell your house and get a smaller one, get a roommate, stop buying $5 lattes everyday. Both parents need to make some sacrifices!! Stop making about your ego. your children deserve better.

    Reply
    • Ed

      Making sure that your child has a quality life is very important but taking 33% of the father’s wages is outrageous and is based on a world that no longer exists.
      When both of the parents have very similar incomes and the custody is 50/50 there is no need for the Father to give up that large of an amount. It is not about ego, it is about standing up for yourself and understanding that the roles within a family have dramatically changed over the last few decades. It is ridiculous for you to insinuate that the Ftaher need to make further sacrifices then he already is. My guess is that you are not willing to make the same sacrifices if it were you in his place.

      Reply
      • Mary

        33% of your income is very minimal. The custodial parent pays way more that out of her income to support the kids. If you lived with the child, you would be paying most of your income to pay for all of the child’s expenses (food, clothing, housing, education, medical care, childcare, extracurricular activities).

        Reply
    • Tim

      Why would any of this need to happen when both parents have the child equally and making the same amount of money? I shouldn’t have to be paying for someone else’s household too when I have the same struggle with mine.

      Reply
  3. Carol

    Child support is a necessity in most cases.The anger some men has is related to their inability to maintain their basic needs. Coming home with 50.00 after 2 weeks is an issue. The court sets the rules.

    Reply
  4. Icemommy

    I was a stay at home mom with a child with a disability and my husband up and left us…I warned him that he will have to pay child support but at that time he was so far into the affair I guess he didn’t think I would file for divorce. Now he resents me because he feels I should be working like I was before I met him. Its not easy when you have to provide daycare for several children, maintain a household, and child support isn’t enough for their monthly needs let alone putting away something for their future (college). I can only speak for my situation but I was left my my husband and he hates paying child support but this is the bed he made and he will lay in it.

    Reply
  5. Corena

    My divorce is coming up ,my husband makes almost100k annually I make 30 I can barley get a diaper from him I just lost my car due to none payment trying to. Keep me and kids afloat forced to get food stamps never in my life have I had to seek assistance from state .we have a week on week off joint custody he won’t help says there’s no order. From judge ..angry yes. I am

    Reply
  6. Tim

    Jackie,
    I read your original article and this one as well. I think that you (in the original article) have a very reasonable approach to this issue; which is refreshing. Divorce is typically counter-family and counter children, and it’s so prevalent and so unhealthy that it almost seems wise to simply avoid the whole thing. No more marriage. No more children. Family and children are such good things; the best things in the world, as far as I’m aware. But the loss of those things is so devastating.. Can’t be risked on a coin toss. What’s the point of taking vows that don’t mean anything? Explain how it got to be like this. Marriage as an institution needs to be fixed or just go away.
    While I agree with much of what you write, you are not helping anyone to feel more at peace, less resentful and bitter, etc. You haven’t gotten at the heart of the matter. The amount of suffering involved in all of this. It needs to stop.

    Reply
  7. Heidi

    I do feel what most people forget is there’s actually some women who have to pay their ex-husband child support, due to 50/50 care. This type of care appears to be preferred by the government and even though my ex lives with his partner and earn nearly double what I earn, the government only takes his salary into account. And please don’t give me the nonsense that the money is spent on the child – it is not, I have to beg him to just take our son for a hair cut when it’s his turn or just buy at least some clothes. The way the government calculates child support is the main problem. Take the full households income into consideration. Am I angry and bitter – certainly. So please don’t think it’s only the men out there who’s suffering under the burden of paying unfair child support.

    Reply
  8. Chelsea

    I read both articles. I understand where this guy is coming from: ex wife left HIM and now he has the kids 50% and had to start over and replace his ex’s income in his house plus partially make up her income. And this probably falls under every case is different:

    My ex-husband was unhappy and left me for someone else. Even after paying child support, he is household with just his income STILL has more money coming in than mine does (including child support). And he moved in with his new gf within a 6 months of leaving(and within a month of divorce being finalized) thereby further helping his situation. And he has our daughter every other weekend, and sometimes not even that if he has to work sat he doesn’t take her till sat after work so he doesn’t need to pay a sitter, etc. At the end of this year he will have had her at the most 12% of the time. So I’m supporting her 88% of the year on less income than he brings in and way less than him and his gf.

    If it weren’t for my fiance, my daughter wouldn’t get to go to preschool (we don’t even live together and my fiance is the one paying for half of preschool).

    Based on our incomes at time of divorce (which is what child support is based on), his house has 10k!! Extra per year. I support myself and daughter on a full 10k less per year (even if he didn’t jump right into a live in situation).

    And I’m sure he complains regularly about how unfair it is to pay the support because he complains to me about the hardship of paying our daughters support is

    Reply
  9. HVR

    Also feel there isn’t enough difference between child support and alimony (or temporary spoudal restorative maintanance as. We call it here).

    Think I’m lucky that in our (not in the US) court make a destinction and keep the 2 seperate.

    As our son did not fit into my wife’s new life plans, which is a double edged sword. I’m taking in all the his costa in any case as he will be living with me.

    Turns out the new boyfriend is a real piece of work. This is marriage no 3 ue has broken up all with kids.

    He then lives of the newly seperated wife and her new maintenanance. I was warned beforehand so got NDA sigbned before negotiatiins and will only be payibg her enough for fuel to aee the kid and basic food. With no expectation for child aupport from her.

    Infortunatly this means my son will not stay over at his mom since they can only afford a room in someone else’s flat.

    May be wrong and good on men who support their exes, but I refuse to pay for hustlers and cheaters. Especially after I found out she spent half the kida savinga on her and the new boyfriend I thi k I’ve properly dodged a bullet.

    Reply
  10. Tracey Dorsey

    I left because my ex wouldn’t move out. Our kids were 4 and 6 at the time. For 2.5 years he paid nothing. He refused to sell the house. I asked him to pay 400.00 a minth for two kids, he balked at that. He makes 100K. So, I filed for child support. He evaded for almost 4 years. For almost 4 years there was a warrant out. He thought that it was soley my responsibility to provide and care for the kids, since I took them. Court date last week, he owes 45K in the arreas, plus hast o pay monthly. Itried to work out an agreement beforehand, but he wasn’t cooperative. I think he thought the ruling would go in his favor.

    Reply
  11. Wakeen Smith

    Every man should boycott marriage and fatherhood until laws change. And they will change when birthrates drop and women voice their desires to be mothers…Men are just ATM machines, their importance in a child’s life has not been emphasized by the courts. Women often receive child support, buy brand new cars, purses, get nails done etc….if a man doesn’t play, he doesn’t pay!!!!

    Reply
    • Mary

      My father, after my parents divorce, was ordered to pay $50/month for three kids. Give me a break! Child support payments are so low that they barely cover anything. Trust me, the mother is not taking vacations or buying new cars on $50/month (or the median payment of $237/month). Men are just as much responsible to support the child they helped to conceive as women are. Stop blaming women.

      Reply
  12. amy

    I am a woman who was abused and left the relationship. But, because I lost everything and because my ex is a former cop and like I said abusive, he has manipulated the system and our teenage daughter. So since he has lots of money (5000 per month!) she chooses to live with him. My income is 500 or LESS per MONTH! And I remarried a wonderful man, who unforatunately had a serious accident at work recently which left him physically and cognitively handicapped. He has no money from social security or workers comp yet. So we are just barely scraping it by, and often have to rely on charities or sometimes literally begging for things like gasoline or help with paying for his medications. Aside from the fact that I have to be the caretaker of my husband, I also have multiple – MULTIPLE! – barriers to employment that would take a novel to explain them all. I’ve always been a good citizen and good mother and wife. I have no criminal history, never done drugs, always done right by neighbor and country. But since daughter decided to live with her wealthy father, and since I don’t have a nice place to live anymore, my ex has been granted full custody AND now I have to pay 162 per month child support. NOw that might not sound like much, but like I said, my ENTIRE monthly income is 500 or LESS. So now my husband and I will be homeless due to paying child support in the imminent future. How does my ex get away with having that much income and still get child support, you might ask? Because his new WIFE brings in half of that. And the court doesn’t care what the new wife does, only what he does, and his money is from disability. My ex had the nerve to tell the court that he “struggles” and he “does without”, while living in a 2 1/2 story 5 bedroom house with heated floors and in-ground pool, intercom system, and so forth. His house payment alone is three times more than I make in a whole month! The judge agreed that I am facing extenuating circumstances, and reduced the amount of my child support by thirty dollars, but said that by law I am required to pay because its the best interest of the child. So lets see, I escape abuse. I am told to “be strong”. I do my best to re-establish myself and not fight with my ex. And now I have to pay HIM???? Really. Oh, and lets see, now I have to make my current husband do without his medication, or us have no utilities or live in our stinking car, so I can PAY my ABUSER. Isnt that lovely?

    Reply
  13. Sonya

    Okay, so my X dove so deep into alcoholism, and trying to fulfil his dream of being a lawyer, that he failed to notice that his family was falling apart. Instead of being there for us, he drank himself into oblivion while I held on for dear life as I struggled to keep things ‘NORMAL’ around our home.
    I struggled to pay the bills and avoid a default on our mortgage, while he was running off to local bars with his nasty, drunk secretary (also an alcoholic), and dissappearing some times for a whole night. In the meantime, I was struggling to keep a security blanket around our two small children who noticed something was wrong with daddy.
    He failed to remember how I had sacrificed, sometimes paying all the bills so he could get through law school.
    He failed to remember that he promised he was doing this for ‘US’.
    He failed to remember that we were even married at all, when he cheated on me one Valentine’s evening, posting to the druggie, alcoholic slime ball, that she had ‘set him free’. (She used you by the way, to get what she wanted).
    He failed to take notice of all our attempts our children and I made to tell him we loved him and to please stay it’s okay, you can stay.
    He failed to read my countless loving, encouraging text messages when he was struggling with his business. Instead, he made sure he read all of his secretary’s messages, and they were definitely NOT all business. (Guess what babe, I was struggling too but I wasn’t looking for a way out. I was looking for a way through. I thought that’s what you wanted too.) He forgot that I was his wife and it would have been thoughtful to introduce me to his law school classmates after he graduated. Instead he introduced his buddies to the ladies he was graduating with. I put up with so much from him because I believed in him, our marriage, in our family and I believed that we could get through anything if we had made it this far and were still together. Instead, he walked out but not before telling our 4 year old (while I was at work) that daddy was leaving mommy. He also let all the neighbors in on his little secret while I played wife, and mother and went to work every day. I worked full time, made sure the kids made it to daycare and back, made sure the bills were paid, house was cleaned, refrigerator cleaned and full.
    Can you imagine what it was like to try and communicate the need for him to pay his fair half of the bills when he wouldn’t even listen to me about the smallest things? That was a NIGHTMARE. When I told him we were late for our mortgage, he angrily told me that ‘maybe you should get a second job’. In all honesty, he wasn’t even paying half the bills because I was paying for the whole family’s medical insurance through my work. Thats a whopping $478 extra every month that he would never acknowledge. So in my eyes, he had it pretty dam good! He had it made! He had a beautiful wife, two beautiful children and was a rising star in the Lawyer world. He had accomplished his dreams, some of which he didn’t even realize he had (his children). I sacrificed a LOT. Sure we had our problems, every couple does. Sure I was a pain in the azz sometimes but then so was he. Unfortunately the alcohol became far more important than anything we worked for, far more important than his wife and children. Far more important than his cozy home where he had it made. The alcohol destroyed his perception of how things were. It destroyed his thinking, his emotions, his sense of situational awareness, and his ability to be PATIENT while communicating with me. After painstaking effort on my part to listen to him, help him out, he only got worse, so I reluctantly let go, and with that came my own personal path to grief. Grief for the loss. Almost ten years of painstaking hard work to get where we were and I had to let the cards fall where they would. It was hard, extremely hard to watch my little girl and boy struggle with it. I had to smile at neighbors and pretend that my soul wasn’t shattered when they asked where my husband had gone and lightly explain, acting as if I was just fine. Friends asked what was going on too. This felt like such an intrusion to the personal hell I was going through. My children went through wild, emotional mood swings and bouts of uncontrollable crying. All I could do was hold them, tell them I loved them, promise them daddy loved them too, and hold them some more. His decision to leave shattered our whole world and two years later, we’re still trying to pick up the pieces. It’s not all smiles and pain free. Some days I still cry and so do our children and some days are good. Our recovery is a work in progress and its FAR from over. If we could be a happy healthy family, I would do it all again but that is gone. Once trust is broken, regaining it can could take longer than the 9 years we spent building our life.
    I don’t have the strength to believe in that kind of a recovery. Instead, I count my blessings, and I try to take one day at a time. I play and am a goofball with the kids. Some days are harder than others. Some days take more patience and some days are rough but we are alive and well…we will be okay…in time. So, now that I have gotten that out, I have to admit that the mere thought of a father complaining about child support makes me sick to my stomach, I literally want to VOMIT. BUT, that being said, I understand why some women skip the details and go right to posting (I read the details first). I can sympathise with some of these men, yes, they have it hard and true, every situation is different and I think men (fathers) should have a voice too. I am glad I stumbled into this article. I can now fully understand why my husband is still bitter at me for establishing child support. He doesn’t have me paying for more than half the bills. He also has to pay for half of the children’s medical (which I did alone dor the past 5 years), no more home cooked meals, back scratches, heaps of love and encouragement in difficult times, no more sex on a whim. It’s all gone…sadly. But this was his choice, I’m sure he had some coaching from friends (work) who had NO idea what it really was like at home but still, he made the final choice by filing for divorce. So, while I feel devastated at the demise of our marriage, I also feel like I tried my dambdest. I tried and tried and tried. I miss our little family. I feel a great loss for what could have been but then again the ball was in his court and he let it go. I didn’t get to say, “No we’re not divorcing.” When I tried to talk to him, he shut me out, blamed me and still does. It’s a horrible feeling to feel powerless and watch everything you worked for fall apart. I once said to a friend, “It was like he took my life, and threw it out the window, shattering it into a million little pieces as he drove 100 miles per hour.”

    Reply
  14. Aaron

    Was imputed a six figure income and hit with child support and rehabilitative alimony. Covid hit and was forced to file a no asset chapter 7 and move in with relatives. Now work retail for $14 an hour. IWO brings my take home to about $600 a month. I’m going to lose my car. I have custody of my son, ex-wife my daughter. Ex-wife makes $45k plus as a school nurse. My son and I are totally dependent on relatives fir the basic necessities of life. I’m 40 hours a week. Back when I made money, my workweek was 80 plus hours. Filed fir an emergency hearing to seek adjustment but judge deemed my economic situation not an emergency and no hearing granted. Again, I can’t afford, food, shelter, clothing or transportation with the IWO. How is this even allowed.

    Reply
  15. Brandon

    Because you’re a man. That’s why its allowed.
    The reality that women, lobby groups like NOW and the AAML, and attorneys who profit off contentious divorces, simply don’t want to acknowledge is this: CURRENT CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATIONS HAVE ZERO CONNECTION TO ACTUAL COST OF CHILD REARING.
    The current income shares and income percentage models that persist in family courts have no basis in what it actually costs to raise a child. In fact, the study used to create the income shares model back in the day is so suspect it is rarely even referred to any longer. As a result, this idea that child support should be tied to income has prevailed and created whole generations of entitled women (as they receive CS exponentially more than men). Women believe they are entitled to their ex-husbands/baby daddy’s money rather than believing they are entitled to their ex-husbands/baby daddy covering half the cost of the child.
    There is a distinction here. Whether I make 100k per year or 50k per year, the costs of raising my child don’t change. The only thing that changes is how much money is available to meet those costs. So, the current Child Support system has fully ignored that fact and instead has created a transfer of wealth system from men to women.
    For instance, in my state of Colorado the Income Shares Model is what is used in family court. This silly model calculates a “basic support obligation” based upon combined gross income of the parents. It doesn’t calculate a basic cost of care for the number of children, simply a made up “support obligation” based upon how much money is made. So, the parent’s incomes are combined and from that it is determined which parent makes up what percent of the total.
    For instance, If dad makes 5000/mth and mom 2000/mth, the combined is 7000/mth. According to this example, dad’s income consists of 71% of the total, thus under the Income shares model he is responsible for 71% of the support and mom is responsible for 29% of the support. Based on a convoluted and incoherent formula, if there was 50/50 custody, Dad would end up paying $324/mth to mom.
    This idiotic calculation is flawed on its face. First of all, when divorce occurs there is no longer a “combined” income. Now there are two separate incomes that are supporting two separate households, so it is preposterous to ignore that fact and simply add them together. Second, the calculation ignores a huge fact: Taking income from one parent and giving it to the other robs the giving parent of the ability to provide for the child.
    If the “best interest” of the child is the measure, courts have done an absolutely abhorrent job in meeting that criterion as they confiscate from one parent to give to the other. In the example above, Dad is losing $324/mth that he could otherwise be using to provide for his child. That money could be used by dad to pay for any host of things like tutoring, sports, camps, to be placed into college savings fund, ANYTHING. By Dad not having that money, the child is directly deprived of the benefits. Many women out there may say, well it goes to mom and she can do the same thing. Really? Because the entire reason she is receiving that transfer of wealth is because she has been deemed the poorer parent and therefore requires continued financial support. Thus, is she really in a position to provide such extras to the child? Likely no. So again, the child is directly deprived of that $324/mth that is better spent by the Dad in this example.
    Ultimately, the child support system is nothing more than the biggest transfer of wealth operation in the United States. Confiscating money from men and giving it to women, in most cases, directly depriving children of the benefits of the money changing hands. Its disgusting and immoral.

    Reply
  16. adam

    going through a divorce now and just found out childsupport is gross not net, which is complete BS if you ask me. i can work 60 hours and take home 200 a week. how are you supposed to live? i think its better off to end. not worth it, they need to change the laws, they are outdated

    Reply
  17. Kay

    haha child support should be for parents who are not involved. . if you have 50/50 then child support should not exist. I hear mothers complaining about how they do the doctors appointments and other activities. and that’s where child support makes 50/50 equal. it’s just an excuse. face it. I’ve interviewed countries women who all dragged their exes through hell. and got Sheen deep in an emotional level.

    The majority of the time the woman is the dumper. and the top reasons why hundreds of women literally have told me that they put their exes through the court system were;

    1.they felt that they were doing more then the ex. they felt like when the children were with them they had more responsibility, even in 50/50 situations. and they felt it was not fair that they were not recieving an entitlement of income from the other parent.

    2. they wanted to punish the father kind of like a last final blow. it’s a form of winning and makes them lack regret for their choice of seperation.

    3. of course the new partner. a threat . someone who balances the ball field. now the man has someone to help him raise his child. now control became competition.

    all this aside . in my own opinion.

    women want child support because who doesn’t want free money. it is enforced because the government losses liability. and child support counters inflation. confiscation of a man’s money is slavery.

    Reply
  18. Mary

    If you are responsible for creating a child, you are obligated to help support it. Whether you make $14/hour at a retail job or you make $100,000/year. That’s not “unfair”. It’s your child. It’s not the taxpayers’ job to support your child. To complain about 33% of your income going to pay child support is absurd. If you were the custodial mother you would be paying a lot more than that. Raising children is expensive. Both parents should have to pay exactly half of all of child’s expenses. Trust me, if that happened child support payments would have to quadruple.

    Reply

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