Child Support...basis for Class Action Suit?

In my state (MN) child support is based solely on the income of the non-custodial parent. Isn’t that a violation of equal protection under the law? The custodial parent could remarry, inherit a windfall and hit the lottery, but the support required from the non-custodial parent would be unaffected.
(Before I’m toasted with flames, let me say that I’m fully involved in my son’s life. I pay my support, and I have him half the time.)
I pay 25% of my net towards his support. This doesn’t include health insurance and day care, which I’m also required to pay.
Back to the subject. The way I figure it, I pay 100% of his support when he’s with my ex-wife AND 100% of his support while he’s with me.
It seems to me that I’m being penalized without committing a crime–a violation of due process. Doesn’t this seem like a reasonable basis for a class action suit since there are thousands of other NC parents in the same boat?

A “class-action” lawsuit? Against whom? For what?

Because the laws of your state require you pay child support? Puh-leeze. You sired a child and you have the responsibility to support him or her. You’re not being “penalized” in any sense of the word, you’re simply being required to fulfill the social obligation having a child quite naturally encumbers you with.

Kwitcherbitchin and give the kid the dough.

[Note: This message has been edited by Nickrz]

I had thought that the suit would be brought against the state itself. If the state is the one imposing the excessive/punitive penalty, then the state is in violation of its own Constitution.

BTW…I stated that I do pay the support. I’m simply saying that the support is based solely on my income without taking into account the income of the payee.

That’s a little out of line for a moderator in their own forum, I think. Joint custody means joint responsibility. If the OP is, as he claims, paying ALL the bills, he has a legitimate complaint,

Remember, If the wife remarries money, that money may well not be willing to support her child from a previous marrige. I know of one couple where the husband was very careful to make sure the the wife paid for her children’s allowances, clothes, etc out of her own incopme (they both made a healthy living and had seperate accounts).
The thing w/ the paying while your son is with you is annoying, I know, but some of that is valid. Your son continues to cost your exwife money even when spending a summer with you. I mean, she can’t sell the house and move into the one bedroom apartment she would live in if she were on her own just for the summer. And she may well buy him a load of clothes a month or two before sending him to you. Child support is not meant to equal monthly expenses–children don’t work that way. Think of it instead as payments on an annual childcare bill.
Thirdly, if your son were living with you, you would still be spending a quater of your income on him–it would just be in smaller, less painful pieces.
All of this is assuming that your exwife is in fact useing the money on the boy. Sometimes it is hard to tell, because “on the boy” is a bit subjective: does rent count? cable? Now, if you feel that the child’s needs are not being met, (food, shelter, clothes) and that they could be from the ammount of money you send, then I would get a lawyer to speak to your exwife, not the state. One the other hand, if the exwife really is fully capable of supporting the boy, and you feel that your monthly check is being wasted on frivolities that no one needs,(and y’all are on speaking terms), you might suggest that the two of you put your monthly check into college fund. That way, the boy’s needs are met, your resonsibilites are discharged, and college is paid for.

The money is for the child. The child cannot win the lottery until they are older than 18.

As for the wife winning the lottery, if that were the case & she does like you, she could petition the court to ask that you don’t have to pay the support anymore.

But then what would you tell your kids when they are 18? That you didn’t want to support them anymore cause she won the lottery?

Points well taken. I’m simply objecting to the formula the state uses to calculate the support (My net x 25% = gimme). Her income doesn’t enter into it. That’s what’s wrong.
The amount I pay far exceeds the cost of what could be consumed, purchased to wear, or be reasonably expected to be needed by the average 8-year-old.
And why aren’t non-divorced parents required to put 25% of their net into their kids’ accounts? But I digress.
Another thought occurs: Alimony is tax deductible by the payor; child support isn’t. Why? It’s money paid to someone else for their support.
Furthermore, she gets to claim his as the tax deduction, not me.
I’ve raised these questions with lawyers, judges and other officials. The most honest response I got was, “Justice isn’t always fair.”
But then, is it justice?

Handy, let’s say she wins gazillions. Irrelevant. I still have to pay. It’s the formula that’s wrong. She has no responsibility nor accountability.
And, legally, when he’s 18 I don’t have to pay anything. Of course I’d do everything I could do to help him out irrespective of his age.


The reason why child support payments aren’t deductible is because such payments are not deductible when made by a married couple with children so that it would be unequal treatment to allow divorced people with children to deduct such expenses. That is, married parents cannot deduct the cost of their child’s food, clothing, entertainment and education, so divorced parents shouldn’t be able to deduct such costs either.

As for your point about the amount of support, I agree that both parents income’s should be taken into account when calculating the amount due. I live in Ohio, which uses a pro rata percentage of both parent’s incomes to determine the amount of support.

The fact that you claim to provide 100% of the support when your child is with your ex makes me tend to believe you aren’t seeing the situation objectively.

If I were your wife I would give you custody of that kid for 6 months and pay you 25% of my income. I would bet you would be more than happy to go back to things the way they were.

What’s a little out of line? That I see fit to comment on a topic in this forum? Give me a break.

I know what joint custody means, I’m a joint custodian of my own son. “The way I (Rysdad) figure it” and actually paying 100% of the support of the child are two different things. Do you make your ex’s house payment? Car payment? Do you pay for day care and clothing and food? What about schoolbooks? Buy all your child’s toys? Gas to get to soccer practice? Do you buy all the medicine?
Lord, there are a million incidental out of pocket expenses for a primary custody parent.
In effect, what you’re saying is, your ex is contributing nothing towards supporting the child. I think that’s probably far from the real situation.

In my humble opinion, anyone who cries about contributing 25% of their pretax earnings to supporting their own child should take an honest appraisal of what it really costs to raise a child these days and then ask themselves: “Would I begrudge my child this money if they lived with me?”

commenting is fine, saying, in affect, you’re a jerk for asking is not. If you read the OP carefully you will notice that the poster pays health and daycare and has 1/2 time custody and all the incidentals that entails,

I agree w/ PatrickM, the financial status of the wife should be calcuated into the support calculations. As an “old” feminist (equal rights, equal responsibilities) vs “new” feminist (woman are victims and men are shits), both father and mother should contribute as much as possible to the support of the child.

The example of an exwife marrying someone who is unwilling to help with the support of the child is all too real–but WRONG. Marrying means forming a new family, and that includes accepting responsiblity for children. If the new hubby isn’t willing to help supoprt his new wife’s child, he’s a dolt and a loser.

BTW, I am not speaking through my hat. My blessedly absent Ex paid child support. Even though the mother was a bottom feeder, averse to work in all forms–and my Ex wasn’t a whole lot better–I still supported him so he could afford his child support payments. Of all the things I begrudge now, that isn’t one of them. Someone has to be an adult and look to the care of children. That isn’t intended as a sideways, highfalutin’ slam at anyone. Money is just a tool, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than help his poor daughter have a chance at a better life.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to pull this off track. But I spent from age 5 on as a tennis ball batted between my divorced parents. I felt guilty for everything that cost money, because that was the arena the battle played out. It took me years to understand that the real issue wasn’t the money; it was that our parents loved my sister and I,and working out how to “share” a child was incredibly painful.

With all that sidetracking, yes, I agree that women should pay the full amount they can afford. Almost all do, and more. May I suggest that some of the pain comes when the argument is raised that the mother puts in so much more “sweat equity”: the daily worry, and nagging and childrearing? It’s all true, but can also be very bitter for many fathers who would love nothing more than a chance to do the same. It’s painful to be reduced to a support payment, when they love their children and yearn to put in that day-to-day involvement in their child’s life.

No issue I can’t complicate,

I think the reason that the courts do not take the custodial’s parent’s income into account when determining the ammount of child support the non custodial parent should pay is because it is impossible to determine. For example: Say you have a single woman with one child who makes 25K a year. You CAN support two peple on that salery (at least here in the south). It may mean that the child sleeps in the living room, there is no insurance on the car, and ground beef is a luxury item, but it can be done. I know people who do it because they have no other options.
Now, if the father of that child is making half a milion a year, how much should he be paying? The mother can pay for all of that child’s needs, and in fact support that child in a similar fashion to many, many children in two parent families. Therefore, should we let the father off the hook? Of couse not. In such a disparate situation, we would expecty his child support payments to probably be larger than his exwife’s salary. On the other hand, if the father is a short order cook making 17K a year, can we expect him to turn every penny over until he starves to death or dies of exposure? No. The problem here is that there is no static monetary number for how mach a child costs. For lack of a better way to determine things, we feel as a society that the economic level a child is reared at should be based on the economic level of both parents. The child of a six-figure making manager is seen as entitled to things that the child of a bartender is not. Look at braces; an upper middle class parent who refused to pay for braces is seen as negligent; for lower class families braces are not even an option. This is not a very pretty way to look at things, but it is how our society works, and I think the courts are following suit when they set child support payments based solely on the non-custodial parent’s income.

Ivick - I’m sorry you disapprove of my comments, but that’s too bad. I have the same freedom to express myself as you do. Are you in the habit of telling everyone what they can say and how they must say it?

Nickrz, if you’re going to moderate, please pay attention.
Why should I be required to pay anything toward my ex’s house or car payments? She’d have those payments whether my son was there or not. I already stated that I paid his medical and daycare expenses. I pay for my own gas when I pick him up and drop him off–22 miles each way, 8 roundtrips per each 14 days. (The court said only I was liable for those costs). She doesn’t buy him toys; she says that’s my job. I buy clothing for him because she refuses to send any along with him. His school books are supplied by the school.
That leaves meals. He eats lunch at school. I buy half of his dinners. He has more breakfasts at her house because we agreed that it’s better for him to spend school nights at her house rather than having to get up early here and drive through rush hour traffic.
And child support is based on POST-tax income, not pre-tax as you say.
So, do I pay her house payments, her car payments, her utilities? I think so. But I shouldn’t. Where’s her responsibility?
I take part in just as many “incidentals” as she does. I take him to the doctor, to karate class, to the swimming pool. I meet with his teachers. I help him with his homework.
I am equally involved.
But back to the point. Why isn’t her income taken into account? She works. Her husband works. I pay 25% of my NET, but they get the tax deduction.
I want to attack the child support laws based on violation of due process and unequal treatment under the law. I’m being fined and I haven’t committed a crime.
I want to SHARE in my son’s life, and I do, more than many fathers (divorced or non-divorced), I’d hazard to guess.
But “share” is the operative word. I’m not sharing. I’m underwriting. And under the current child support structure, I have no recourse. The law needs to be changed.
My question: Would it be feasible to challenge the law based on what I’ve stated–that not taking into account the household income of the custodial parent is a violation of due process and unequal treatment?

FYI, I’m not moderating, so I don’t know what that’s got to do with it.

Do you have joint custody? Is your ex the primary custodian, that is, does the child live at her house? I’m assuming this is the case.

  1. You should be obligated to pay something towards your ex’s house and car payments because that house and car are maintained partially in support of your child. That’s what child support means.

  2. Who pays for medical insurance and day care expenses are worked out as part of the custody and dissolution agreement. If you think you got the unfair burden in that respect, take it up with your lawyer. He goofed, not the court. In any event, this in no way relieves you of your primary financial obligation.

  3. The non-primary custodial parent assumes all costs related to transportation for visitation purposes; this is usual and customary. You want to visit? You pay the cost. After all, it is you who no longer lives with the child.

  4. If your ex does not buy him toys, then that beef is with your ex, not the court or the state. Ditto with her refusing to send clothes along with him - she sounds like a real piece of work. I’d take her back to court if I were you.

  5. His lunch at school is free? You buy “half his dinners.” Of course you do, you should be buying half of all of his food.
    Is there a problem with that?

  6. I don’t know how they do it in Minnesota, but here in Illinois, child support is based on a percentage of gross earnings.

  7. You take part in as many incidentals as she does. I do the same, and we are heartily commended for trying to be good fathers. Neither does this relieve us of our primary financial responsibility. Do you wish to be “paid” for your time by lessening the amount of money you give to your child?

  8. You are not “equally” involved in the eyes of the court. The child does not live with you. If you fail to see the difference, then you don’t understand your custody arrangements.

  9. Her income is not taken into account simply because it has nothing to do with your moral, ethical and societal obligation to support a child you fathered. If you were still married, and your wife made twice as much as you did, would you feel justified in withholding “your” money from the marriage (and the child) in light of the income differential? I hope the answer is “no”, in which case I’ll ask you: why is your case any different because you’re no longer married? At what inequality level in incomes should your financial obligation to your child be attenuated? If she made 10 times the amount you do, should you be able to just walk away? Because that sounds like what you’re getting at with this “challenge the law” suit.

It sounds to me you think you got a raw deal because of laws made to protect children from irresponsible adult behavior. However, I think the real raw deal is being dealt to you (and your child) by your ex-wife, and you dislike handing that money over to her. Whatever problems you have with all of the above, you still have that obligation to your child.

In my opinion, nothing can erase that.

I say this understanding the accounting nightmare and increased costs it would involve, but should the child support laws require the recipient parent to account to the family court for how the child support money is spent? Would some of the tension be reduced if the paying spouse had independent confirmation, verified through the court, that the money was in fact going for the child’s benefit? If a full accounting through the court would be too much (and its my idea, and even I think it would be too much) maybe then the recipient parent should be subjected to random audits of the money.

As for the class action suit, I hate to say it, because I think changing statutes is for the legislature and not the courts, but in this day and age screwier class action suits have survived. (IE, when I first heard the states were suing the tobacco companies I thought they would get thrown out of court in nothing flat, which shows how much I know.)

Rysdad, I don’t know how your state calculates things.

In California, most of the time the man gets the better of everything child custody wise.

have you thought of getting a job at McDonalds so you only have to pay her a couple hundred a month? :slight_smile: