(This article was first published in Divorce Mag and can be read in full here).
As with any institution that governs behaviors and responsibilities, child support laws were created and designed to make sure that a parent fulfills their obligations to their biological child, and to assure that the child would not be left without adequate resources. But as we all know, societies become increasingly complicated over time – laws change, responsibilities change.
And child support laws, once meant to make taking care of a child a simpler, streamlined process, has now become a complex and somewhat arcane system of tracking payments, rules stacked on top of rules, and governing bodies like child support court, departments of health and human services, legal counsels, etc. It’s no wonder that even parents who wish to follow all the rules, pay on time, and do the right thing end up getting in trouble with the law.
How Divorce Impacts Child Support Laws
Divorce in previous centuries, and even in the recent past, wasn’t as common a legal practice. For example, no-fault divorces were first made legal in California in 1969 with the Family Law Act. Prior to its being effective in 1970, most divorce cases needed substantive legal grounds beyond irreconcilable differences. Even now, the final state to allow no-fault divorce was New York in 2010.
By expanding the kinds of divorces legally available, states also had to expand the laws around child support. In typical at-fault divorce cases, child support typically was easier to manage. But in no-fault cases, who and how and where custody was awarded became much more complicated. Again in California, this led to a balance between paying for support and spending time with the child. Fathers had to be granted more paternity and visitation rights – but this complicated the amount of money owed in child support.
To read the full article, please visit Divorce Mag.