Comments: If They Can Do Parenting Plans, They Can Do Child Support Plans

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ray , Indianapolis   10/15/09
A couple of issues not addressed by this article are the way that child support compliance is measured, and the profit that the courts and private sector companies make from maximizing child support awards in all circumstances. First, child support is determined by the gross amount of child support collected instead of by measuring the percentage of non-custodial parents with the means to pay child support that are in compliance with child support orders that meet the requirements in the Family Support Act for a "...just and appropriate award in all circumstances". Federal reimbursements to local jurisdictions are also based on the gross amount of child support collected, therefore the courts have a financial incentive to maximize child support in all circumstances. The other issue is that there are private sector companies such as Policy Studies Inc. in Denver that act both as consultants on child support policy and that have contracts with local jurisdictions to collect child support. Therefore, the consulting side of these companies recommend child support awards that increases the profits of their collection sides. I would love to use a Children's checkbook, but I just don't see it happening with the profits that the courts, but I just don't see it happening with all of the profits being made at the expense of our children.

Steve , Excelsior MN   09/05/08
Thanks David, I first thought it would only work for the cooperative couples. What I have found is that even with high conflict parents, it gives them the structure that is missing in current child support formulas. The more I work with couples who use the checkbook, the more I realize how absurd a simple exchange of child support is without having some understanding of what the money is meant to be used for and who is responsible for what. Thanks again for your kind comments.

David Hoffman, Boston MA     08/07/08
Excellent article
Steve: This is a first-rate article and the best articulation that I have seen of the "joint children's account" method. I have been using this for both my mediation cases and collaborative law cases with great success, and I believe a lot of my colleagues here in Massachusetts use it as well. Not every couple that I work with choose this model, but most do. And I have had only one case in which the parties could not manage it successfully -- there was just too much residual animosity for them to pull it off. Thank you for sharing this important piece of your thinking and experience with the mediation and dispute resolution community. - David

Larry , Lodi CA   06/20/08
Divorce mediation or marital mediation?
Instead of using mediation to devise an equitable method for rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, shouldn't we use mediation to restore relationships and promote reconciliation? That is what we do in victim-offender mediation. Why not do it in marital mediation, too? Instead of a divorce rate of 50%, what would you think about a rate of 5%?