Child support laws are often a controversial topic, and laws surrounding child support can vary from state to state. When discussing law, it’s important to recognize that although law may have moral foundations, there is often controversy over how much influence the government should have over individuals. Child support laws, one might argue, are designed to ensure a child (and its mother) does not suffer because a man neglects his responsibilities. Or in some cases, it’s the women who is paying child support. This is more common today than it would have been historically.
Women still face obstacles in modern society, but the inequalities between the sexes were much larger in the past. As a concept, it’s important that child support law adjusts with the times. Although many people believe society should provide a significant amount of welfare, the popularity of this idea is less common in America. When discussing child support laws, then, it’s important to recognize where personality responsibility lies.
When two people have a child, they are making a moral commitment, one might argue, to raise that child. Unfortunately, unwanted pregnancies are relatively common. Legally speaking, abortion is available to all women. The law does not make a moral judgment about whether abortion is ethical or not. Thus, unless the legal standing of abortion changes, the question of child support should be considered with respect to “male consent after pregnancy.” The women still chooses to have the child. At some point, the man should need to consent. This concept is referred to as a “male abortion.” Why is this significant? A man may impregnate a women even if he uses birth control. She can “almost always” decide to have an abortion. The man has to roll the dice, so to speak. If someone does not want children, they place all their freedom in the hands of their partner. The women is not forced to make such a decision. Even though men can have medical procedures, abortions are “after pregnancy” procedures that are typically not needed (if contraception is used properly). Men should be able to have sex “knowing” they won’t be responsible for a child. Women can, after all.
A better example is a case known as Dubay v Wells, which did not end up favoring the Matt Dubay, who continues to pay child support to Lauren Wells. Wells does not deny that she told Dubay she had a medical condition that made pregnancy impossible (in addition to using contraception). Now one might argue that Dubay should have been suspicious, but that was not how the case unfolded. Dubay was led to believe he couldn’t get Wells pregnant, but she had lied. He is forced to pay child support as a result when, arguably, she should be charged for her actions (at least morally, they seem to warrant action).
Should children suffer because their mother lied? Well, children suffer because of their parents all the time. There are people who receive child support and squander it on themselves. Given the average costs of raising a child, a monthly payment of around $500 could cover roughly half of the child’s expenses over 18 years. Since child support is based on income, individuals are forced to pay more depending on how much they made.
Imagine a successful businesswomen and her husband, who stays at home with the kids. She might make three million and be divorced and forced to give a substantial amount to her husband. Realistically, he did help her have the opportunity to be successful. But if he wasn’t there, she would have hired someone. Instead, the compensation he will receive will be grossly exaggerated given his contribution to their finances. Furthermore, child support laws often presume children should be “spared” the difficulty of adjusting to another income level. If Jake enjoys $1000 meals, he should not have to forgo that because of a divorce.
Why should a child, who did nothing to warrant been a rich child over a poor child, receive so much? If child support payments were pooled and distributed at a government-set rate, there would be much more money for the average mother. The rich kids would adjust. Furthermore, the money could be spent in a manner that ensures children have some money for college and/or making their path in the world. An uneducated parent may not know about how to invest their money, and the child will suffer because of that. By allowing child support to be more equally distributed, children and mothers can receive better lives. And in cases like Dubay v Wells, the mother could receive money – just not from Dubay and only where the state finds her claim legitimate. When it’s the government paying for things, they’ll start to pay attention to the unfair cases that sometimes arise under child support laws.