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Fathers, Marriage, and Welfare Policy

Men's News Daily
April 18, 2002

Fathers, Marriage, and Welfare Policy
by Richard M. Green, M.D.

The Bush administration has decided that the solution to child poverty is
marriage. Unfortunately, while policymakers promote marriage for the poor,
federal child support policy continues to tear apart middle-income
families. Fathers now have a brief opportunity to make welfare law father-
as well as marriage-friendly.

The federal government rewards states that collect the most child support
with millions in "incentive payments." States have turned child support
enforcement into a profit center by inflating child support awards,
boosting voluntary payments ("collections") from middle-income fathers,
thereby maximizing these federal incentive payments. According to the
House Committee on Ways and Means 2000 Green Book, in 1998 the
federal government lost 1.4 billion dollars from child support enforcement
activities, while the states earned 340 million dollars.

As a condition for receiving federal incentive payments, welfare law
requires each state to calculate child support in both welfare and
non-welfare cases using a numerical guideline. Current state child support
guidelines were actually designed only for welfare cases, and do not take
into account the costs of raising children at higher income levels. As a
result they yield inappropriately high awards in non-welfare cases, far
exceeding the costs of raising children in the custodial household.

The federal government bribes states to collect child support, and then
allows states unlimited leeway to set their own child support levels. Is
it any surprise that your state's guideline probably transfers 25% to
57.5% of your income to your ex-wife as "child support"?

As fathers, we must explain to lawmakers that excessive child support
awards harm children and fathers because they discourage shared parenting.
A divorcing mother is counseled by her attorney to minimize the father's
parenting time in order to maximize her share of his future income. The
father is then left with insufficient access to the children, and
insufficient remaining income to maintain an adequate second home for
them. State lawmakers routinely kill shared parenting legislation because
child support collections would be reduced.

Legislators must also be made to realize that in violation of welfare law,
state child support guidelines are not being effectively reviewed to
ensure that they result in economically appropriate awards. State and
Office of Child Support Enforcement-sponsored child support guideline
reviews are being performed by private child support collection companies,
including Policy Studies, Inc., and Child Support Recoveries, Inc., which
directly profit from high child support awards. Current welfare law fails
to ban these glaring conflicts of interest, ensuring that state guidelines
are never effectively reviewed and revised.

Excessive child support awards encourage divorce, subsidize single
mother-headed households, and marginalize fathers from the lives of their
children. These effects are directly counter to the Bush administration's
goal of marriage promotion.

To protect fathers, children, and federal taxpayers from these continuing
abuses, every father reading this should call and fax his Congressman and
request the following (underlined) changes in welfare law (Title 42,
Chapter 7, Subchapter IV, Part D, Section 667(a)):

Sec. 667. - State guidelines for child support awards
(a) Establishment of guidelines; method

Each State, as a condition for having its State plan approved under this
part, must establish guidelines for child support award amounts within the
State. The guidelines must be established by law, and shall be reviewed
at least once every 4 years by a neutral economic consultant with no
political or financial interest in child support guidelines, enforcement,
or collection to ensure that their application results in the determination
of appropriate child support award amounts. An appropriate child
support award amount is defined as one which allocates the basic,
reasonable, marginal expenses of children in the custodial household
equitably between the custodial and noncustodial parents.

Richard M. Green, M.D.

Richard M. Green, M.D. is Chief of Neurology at the Kaiser Permanente-Los
Angeles Medical Center. He is a co-custodial father of two children and an
active member of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, the
Alliance for Noncustodial Parents Rights, and the Center For Children's

Men's News Daily Home:
Another excellent commentary by Dr. Green:

Limit Federal Child Support Enforcement to Welfare Cases
by Richard M. Green, M.D. -- RightTurns, 01 Feb 02
[ACFC: The fraud of child support collections, 31 Jan 02]


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