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Is too much child support a problem?

A bill has been introduced across the border in Illinois' neighboring state of Wisconsin that would make changes to the rules in family court for child custody and child support. What is interesting is what those changes are opposed by many advocates who work in family court, including the attorneys from the State Bar of Wisconsin's Family Law Section.

The law would cap the income that could be considered in setting the child support payments at $150,000. It would also create a presumption that parents should receive equal time with their children after the divorce

While this sounds good on paper, there are problems. While the cap on child support appears to be "neutral" and affects both father and mothers, more women receive child support than men, and the number of high-earning women involved in divorce and paying child support is still relatively small.

While there is much anecdotal evidence of women who receive substantial child support payments, and it seems critics of the existing system always claim to know "someone" who lives a luxurious lifestyle on their child support payments, but unless that person is an accountant and has access to their private financial data, they may not know the real story.

The law is not necessary, as judges today have the discretion to determine the departure from state child support guidelines.

If there is an argument that the amount should be lower, the party needs to provide a valid reason for the departure. Punishing the children because they spend more time with their mother may not be good enough for most judges.

The same goes for custody decisions, as most judges assume the child or children should spend equal time with both parents. The problem is often developing a workable schedule for both the parents and the children.

A judge, reviewing the specifics of a given cases, would seemingly be in a better position to make that judgment than the legislature creating an arbitrary and abstract standard.

Source:, "Bill would limit child support payments," Dee J. Hall, January 10, 2014

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