May 072011

Novaseeker wrote about how child support really works. It’s something every man needs to read:

The main problem with the CS regime is that people are generally unaware how it really works. They assume it works one way, but really don’t understand the disparate impact of how it actually works. In effect, it is an additional tax, full stop, on the father which is paid to the mother on a tax-free basis. It really doesn’t matter how much you make, the tax rate is basically the same, the way the statutory formulas/guidelines generally work. People think it’s based on “income share”, because that’s how the statute is worded, and that’s how it was peddled when the CS rules were changed, but as you’ll see below, it’s really a flat tax on the father’s income regardless of income share.

Here are some examples, just to clarify. Let’s assume a child support calculator that is 15% of pre-tax income for one child.

Example One
H income = 100k
W income = 100k
Total household income = 200k
Total support amount is 15% of 200k, which is 30k. H’s share of total income is 50%, so H pays ex-W 15k, or 15% of his pre-tax income.

Let’s look at what happens when we change the income levels.

Example Two
H income = 100k
W income = 50k
Total household income = 150k
Total support amount is 15% of 150k, which is 22,500. H’s share of income is 66.67%, so H pays ex-W 66.67% of 22,500, which is …. 15k, or 15% of his pre-tax income.

Ok. What happens when ex-W earns a lot more than H?

Example Three
H income = 50k
W income = 100k
Total household income = 150k
Total support amount is 15% of 150k, which is 22,500. H’s share of income is 33.34%, so H pays ex-W 33.34% of 22,500, which is 7500. 7500 is, you guessed it, 15% of H’s pre-tax income.

The way it works is that the father pays a flat rate of his income to the mother no matter what. The actual amount of dollars that flow depends on income share, which means that a guy in example three pays less actual dollars, but the dollars that he does pay are the same % of his pre-tax income as the guys earning twice as much in examples one and two. It’s the same percentage of income no matter what. It’s a flat tax, plain and simple, which is then paid to Mom on a tax-free basis.

CS payments are invisible from the tax perspective, which, in effect, means that the tax impact is terribly disproportionate. Dad doesn’t get any deduction for CS payments. They’re treated as if they were rent or gasoline (except they are not variable — you can’t reduce the cost as you can with rent or gasoline by moving or driving less). And Mom receives them tax free — these payments are not reported on her tax return and are generally invisible. And, as the original post points out, they are made with after-tax dollars, so the actual “effect on income” is much, much higher than 15% — i.e., it’s much more than 15% of the take-home pay of Dad. If Dad in example one has take home pay of, say 60k, 15k of that goes to CS, which is 25% of his take-home pay being transferred to his ex-wife on a tax-free basis to her on an ongoing basis. And, again, that doesn’t even take into account the health care premiums, the college savings account requirements, the life insurance premiums, and so on, that one is required to maintain in the typical decree. At the end of the day, this is a huge, huge wealth transfer from men to women, and it takes place on a completely unreported basis because, again, these payments don’t count for tax purposes, so they are not figured in Mom’s income. Flatly put, it’s a big, big scam, but if you complain about it, you’re instantly denigrated as a deadbeat supporting jackass who hates women and children. It’s a system that has been well designed by feminists to enslave men to their ex-wives, in practice.

  29 Responses to “The Truth About How Child Support Works”

  1. “if you complain about it, you’re instantly denigrated as a deadbeat supporting jackass who hates women and children.”

    This is the key point that explains why a certain commenter is absolutely correct that “no one opposes this”. I myself have tried to do so when making the case against chilimony, only to be immediately faced with a “you’re just trying to get men out of their responsibility”. “Responsibility” of course meaning $$, not paternal investment. And never mind that the woman and the government have relieved him of responsibility for his children when they collude to kick men out of their childrens’ lives.

    • Focus on the fact that men are kicked away from the family against his will. If the man has no right to his family, he should have no responsibility.

      No rights, no responsibilities, if you don’t agree with that statement you are pro slavery.

  2. 15% of his gross income?? Get real. More like 20-23% for one kid. Otherwise right.

    Texas is the best for men. It’s 20% of the guy’s AFTER TAX and health insurance income. That’s almost reasonable. Make it 15% and it would be. It’s the only state I’ve seen that assesses on after tax income. And I’ve looked at a lot of them.

    • Washington DC takes 50% of after tax income, but it’s more like 54% because the ss tax went back up.

  3. Yeah I was just using 15% as an example, a plug number. The rate varies by state.

    • Novaseeker, is there a site or webpage that lists the % rate by state that you referred to when writing up that comment? I’ve been searching online out of curiosity but nothing seems to list just the #s (just vague “based on Income Shares model”, “Varying Percentages”, etc. by state).

      • Marc —

        I don’t know of any one site that lists all the state calculators. Many states have an online calculator that you can use to play with income figures to see what you come up with. Some of them state what the rate is up front, while others hide it (imo, intentionally).

  4. 20% of net (after tax) is a big difference. There are other things that add to net income, such as interest, dividends, cap gains, etc. In my experience, its hard for after tax investment income to keep up with inflation, so a 20% drag on after tax income will mean that savings purchasing power will decline considerably over the years.

    Also, I think the parent who pays child support also has to pay for childrens health insurance. If this is correct, that parent would either have to maintain quality corporate employment with health insurance, or be prepared to fund an additional $5k + / year.

    What about imputed income? In some professions, its quite easy to get bumped and take a 50% salary haircut with lose health insurance benefits. This is probably increasingly common as an employee is over 45. How common is it for judges to impute income ?

    • It’s fairly common for judges to impute income, unfortunately. Cases where someone becomes long-term disabled are potentially subject to being revised, but the courts are generally very resistant to revising a CS decree downwards, especially due to job loss. I remember there was quite a bit of publicity about this in 08-09, when millions of guys were losing their jobs, but only a minority of them were able to get the CS decrees reduced. What courts sometimes do is suspend the obligation to pay the full amount for a temporary period, but the guy remains liable to pay the difference in “back child support” in the future.

      Basically, you’d better make as much money as you did when you divorced for the entire period of the decree, otherwise you could be in a very bad situation indeed. Also, increasing earnings significantly is quite risky, because while courts are reluctant to ever decrease CS decrees, they aren’t nearly as reluctant to increase them upon the wife’s request (which under an income share regime results in the same amount of the “higher” income being paid percent-wise, but more dollars). Then, if your income declines again, you’re commonly stuck with the higher-calculated payment pretty much permanently.

      • imputing income is what worries me. If it was a flat tax paid similar to income tax, it would be much more palatable. Any raises, promotions and improvement to one’s education such as advanced degrees and certifications only increase one’s exposure to imputed income.

        what would happen if a man saved say $1m, then retired early and then knocked up a girlfriend? In this case, he would have no paycheck to garnish.

        • They would probably impute income based on what the court decided you *could* make (probably based on the last job you held) and require you to draw down your savings to pay it.

          You’re quite right that the way the system works creates disincentives for men to increase their “earning capability” level, because this risks imputed income. When you pay CS, you are supposed to keep working at your highest income capacity for the entire obligation period (or have another way to pay that equivalent amount in CS).

      • another question is how far back can the courts look for imputing income. If one earned $125k for 10 years, then downshifted to $75k for a number of years before having a child, I am assuming the courts will calculate based on the $75k. One problem here is that most men won’t voluntarily downshift. 50% salary haircuts are usually the result of getting bumped and then scrambling for a new gig, any gig, even the one with a two hour commute and no health insurance.

        I imagine such questions are best for a family law attorney in the state where one resides. Of course, family law seems to be a moving target. Ultimately child custody and potential child support obligations should be contract’able at the beginning of a marriage, with a pre-nup or something similar. Women may reject that sort of thing, but at least a husband won’t have any delusions about his rights and responsibilities.

        • It is very much state and court-practice based as to what you would be looking at in terms of imputation under specific circumstances.

          The reason why pre-nups are not “just enforced” is because family law courts are, in most states, “courts of equity”, which means they are focused on obtaining an “equitable result”. A “court of law”, however, is focused on enforcing laws and contractual commitments. A family law court first asks the question “what would be the impact of enforcing this, and would that be an equitable result”, whereas in a normal commercial context, a court of law doesn’t ask that question — unless there is some kind of fraud or duress, it enforces the contract and lets the chips fall where they may. Not so in family courts.

      • If Ex-W requests increase in CS in event she loses her job, would she then be liable to repay the difference to the H after she found another position?

    • You do realize that Texas is the only state I know of that imposes it’s percentage child support=also stealth alimony on after tax income. All the rest impose it on IRS net income, BEFORE taxes. Which means that the after tax percentage is much higher, as much as twice as high for high earners in a high tax state.

      The internet calculators are basically applying the percentage rates, with a few tweaks. States have add ons for fathers to pay beyond the basic formula. The child’s health insurance for example. If the mother’s job is paying that he may have to pay more CS.

    • In my state, health insurance and child care are split between the parents evenly. There is no consideration for life insurance or college fund for the child or life insurance for the father (if he passes before child is 18).

  5. There are MRA’s who criticize rather freely other men for not participating in their personal preference for activism. I spent around 10,000 hours on activism from 1984 to 1993, and so did other men of my generation. Most of you not only don’t know what we did, but don’t care, since you assume our failure was because we weren’t smart like you are. Blechhh!!!!

    Each generation has male activists who essentially do the same exact things the generations before did. Because they don’t bother to check it out.

    The only program that has worked at all in 45 years is the current marriage strike, which is really putting the pressure on. Political activism never worked and will never work.

    • There are MRA’s who criticize rather freely other men for not participating in their personal preference for activism. I spent around 10,000 hours on activism from 1984 to 1993, and so did other men of my generation. Most of you not only don’t know what we did, but don’t care, since you assume our failure was because we weren’t smart like you are. Blechhh!!!!

      Each generation has male activists who essentially do the same exact things the generations before did. Because they don’t bother to check it out.

      What do you see as some lessons learned?

      What would you advise MRAs to do today?

      I’ve worked with MRAs now and then and have all sorts of thoughts on this. but would be interested in what a veteran of the movement had to say.

  6. Child support guidelines and enforcement comes directly from Soviet Family Law, Article 81 (as it was established in 1919, 1944, and 1969). Soviet child support enforcement was adopted in the U.S. under what is now known as the “Wisconsin Child Support Model”.

    Child support numbers are directly out of the Soviet child support enforcement playbook. One-quarter of the man’s gross for one child, one-third for two children, one-half for 3, and upwards of 75% for more. Also, alimony under the Soviet system is based on whether or not the mother claims the disability of being a “stay at home” mom that cannot work because she has to raise the children of a minor age, or alleges that the child might have some disability. Under Soviet law (and eerily, under American law), alimony could be ordered that the entire man’s pay go to the woman (whether wife, girlfriend, or paramour/slut). That is why men stopped working in the USSR and you had a major alcoholism and drug abuse problem by men in the USSR before the economy collapsed. Many men just stopped working, dropped out of the system there, and wound up in the streets or organized gangs.

    We have the same laws being perpetrated in the US under the guise “its’ for the children”. The laws destroy men’s incentive to work.

    Furthermore, under Federal law, Title 42 U.S.C. Section 658(a-f; known as the Federal reimbursement incentive to the States), the more money the states award, collect and enforce in child support, which is reported to the Feds at the end of every fiscal year, the more money the Feds will send the States (based on 66 cents-90cents on the dollar; and sometimes more). There are no strings attached and the States can do what they want with this Federal reimbursement incentive monies. Of course, they put the money into their general treasuries in an attempt to balance their budgets. The first thing paid out of the treasury is public employees’ salaries and pensions. And, who is a public employee? Judges and child support enforcement workers.

    This constitutes an unconstitutional conflict-of-interest, since the US Supreme Court held in the cases of Tumey v. Ohio (1927); Ward v. Monroeville (1972) and Gibson v. Berryhill (1973), and other cases, that judges CANNOT sit on cases where they have a financial interest in the outcome of those cases (e.g., salaries & pensions directly & indirectly linked to amount of support awarded, collected & enforced upon). The SCOTUS held that judges must disqualify themselves from such cases or their orders are null and void.

    Further, these judges and state employees all took an Oath of Office to uphold, support and defend the US Constitution. By adopting and enforcing Soviet laws, they are in direct violations of their Oaths of Office. This constitutes felony Official Misconduct, Fraud, Criminal Syndicalism, Racketeering, Treason & Sedition. Any judge CHARGED with a misdemeanor or felony and convicted is for all intents and purposes IMPEACHED. No more salary, no more pension! Most likely, jail time.

  7. The main problem with the CS regime is that people are generally unaware how it really works.

    Which is a subset of a much larger problem: most people do not understand how the criminal and civil “justice” systems work in the USA. They have some delusions created by the media, by 2nd grade civics classes, and by some things they have heard somewhere. When one tries to enlighten people, one gets expressions of disbelief, or calm dismissals that what one refers to are anomalies. Most people do not get it until they are in a jail cell.

    Then they start to understand.

    In one case, I had a friend who parroted the feminist party line. And he generally dismissed MRAs as alarmists. Until his girlfriend put him in jail on a trumped up charge (involving child support, by the way) over a custody dispute. When I picked him up as he was getting out of jail three months later, he finally was willing to listen to some truth.

    The thing is, how does one reach the great majority of people, or even a politically significant minority? And not just over child support, but over government abuses across the boards. There may have been a recent spike in outrage against the system with the TSA outrages at the airports, but this sort of thing needs to be turned into a more general movement to restore some kind of accountability to the state. But what will do it short of a revolution?

    • This is a huge problem. I don’t have a good answer because, “it can’t happen to me” is so pervasive. The only idea I can think of would be to leverage the experience that all younger men have experienced in school. That misandry allows for a common reference point and almost all younger men have experienced it.

  8. Check our free online child support calculators by board certified family law attorney.

  9. That’s fine if how its works, now try justifying how they jail parents for nonpayment of support.


  11. Found this while researching; just to note does not always work this way. In one if the über conservative states, a mom of three was ordered to pay CS of what is 15% of income to the dad….initial agreement was two minor children at time of divorce, split custody=no support.
    First child graduated, dad had a gov disability, which is not taxed, did no other work and mom worked; it’s all ‘evened out’ so after cs, plus paying no taxes, this dad now has more actual income per month. For sitting at home. So sometimes it goes the other way, still not fair.

  12. In what way are men unable to be primary or equal parents from the time their children are born? It seems to me that that is the way custody is determined in the event of a breakup.

  13. I am a female . I am married to a man who is 48. He has a 7 y/o & a 5 y/o by a previous marriage. I have seen first hand the way the system works. When all Is said and done, he wouldn’t be able to survive if it wasn’t for my income. I think it’s unfair to men that they have to pay the taxes on child support while women get off “scott free” . Now be mindful that I am talking about the dads who act right and do right by paying their child support . My husband’s x wife has a home that was given to her and stayed in her mother’s name so he couldn’t touch it during the divorce. She takes the $$ he gives in child support and spends it on her back. Plus he has been ordered to pay 1/2 of private tuition. I have lived this and I see it from the man’s side firsthand. And might I add too that she left this fantastic guy I am now married to for a man who wouldn’t hold a steady job and abused her in front of her children?? Wth? ? It’s just unreal to me. My children were grown, thank God when I went through my divorce. But even if they hadn’t been, I would have pulled my fair share of the cost involved in raising them. I think therein lies the problem…women just expect it. Not all the dads out there are deadbeats. They’re just working 2 and 3 jobs to keep up with paying the cost that they probably don’t even have time to spend quality time with their kids! I know I can speak for my husband on this . I’m not trying to judge…just keeping it real:)

    • Just a question here your female u get it u know it’s true it’s obvious to everyone why in ur opinion do u feel the states do not change things. I’m just curious your opinion i know the answer i just wanna hear what your opinion is. Thx

  14. Socons and tradcons claim to be against big government. The child support system is one of the biggest examples of the evil of big government. Where are the socons and tradcons on opposing this hideous example of big government? Nowhere to be found.

    One reason that government doesn’t shrink despite Republicans being in power between 2001-2006 and having Congress between 1995-2006 is because Republicans, socons, and tradcons will not oppose big government when it benefits women. Almost all aspects of big government benefit women in one form or another.

    If you want an end to big government, fighting feminism is the only way to do it. There is no other way. Since the Republicans, socons, and tradcons, have no real interest in fighting feminism, they are for all practical purposes for big government.

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