I discussed the problems faced by child support obligors during the recession on The John Oakley Show on AM 640 in Toronto this morning. The interview was prompted by a new front page Boston Globe story discussing both this issue and Fathers & Families‘ highly-publicized lawsuit against Massachusetts’ child support guidelines. To learn more, click here. One caller espoused a common fathers’ rights position which is problematic. He said (paraphrasing):
After divorce the property should be divided and there should be no child support–the children should live with each parent equally and each parent should support them when they’re in their house.
This is a common idea, and often a good one. However, it only works in certain circumstances. If dad earns $70,000 a year and mom earns $67,000 a year, it’s definitely the solution. But what if dad earns $120,000 and mom, because she was the children’s primary caregiver during the marriage, earns only $30,000? In this case it would neither be fair to the woman nor productive for the children for there to be no financial support from the father to the mother. In effect, the mother is being punished because she diminished her earning capacity to be the children’s primary caregiver. Also, her ability to care for her kids and provide for them when they’re with her is compromised.