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What the public thinks about child support

Newly published research into public attitudes about child support shows substantial public support for changes that are felt to be fairer than the current system, such as stating that the resident parent's (usually mother's) income should matter when deciding how much the other parent (usually father) should pay.

The current UK system and the one in various American states only looks at the father's income and takes no account of what the mother earns.  The 1993 UK Child Support scheme did pay some attention to the income of both parents, but this has disappeared in subsequent versions.

Professors Ellman and Marver from Arizona State University conducted studies over fifteen years, covering not only child support and alimony, but also the division of marital property, parenting time and marital fault.

The parenting time studies suggest the public, both men and women, prefer equal parenting time (or equally “shared parenting”), and that it is difficult to push them from that allocation, even in cases in which judges and custody evaluators would be likely to believe that shared parenting is not appropriate.

American respondents believed fathers should pay the same percentage of their income in child support whether their income was low or high, but believed that the percentage should be higher when the mother’s income was lower.

The UK public would require high-income dads to pay a higher percentage of their income in support, while the UK law generally applies the same percentage to high and low income dads.

Some responses also suggested that step-parent income should be taken into account, and if the parent who receives maintenance moves far away or remarries the maintenance should be reduced. (Child and Family Blog)