As a mediator, I work with many couples who must agree upon a Child Support amount that makes sense to them and benefits their children the most. In the State of Illinois, where I practice, Child Support is based on a fixed percentage of the giver's "net" income. The more children you have, the higher the percentage applied.
One of the primary goals of a good mediator is to make sure that the final child support amount, regardless if it is from state guidelines or not, has been determined and agreed upon by both parties. Mutual agreement, especially from the payor, is the key to avoiding the question posed by the title of this article, "Why don't people pay?"
Getting people to "buy-in" or agree to the child support amount involves time and education so that they can see exactly where their money is going and the effect of their contributions have upon their children. When payors feel that their money is going for the welfare of the ex-spouse or perhaps a new romantic affair they lose their motivation to continue to pay child support.
People don't like being told what to do and that is especially true when it comes to how you spend your money. If you don't see the direct benefit to the children and question the use of the money they pay, they see no value in continuing to make child support payments. It is obvious that no one has spent the time to work with them and address their concerns and educate them in the many somewhat subtle ways their payments benefit their children.
As a mediator, I am committed toward making sure any agreed upon Child Support plan stands the test of time and is paid on a regular basis until it is no longer necessary. When modifications are needed and the child support has been paid on a regular basis, there is a good chance that the involved parties will be able to come to a mutual agreement on a new amount. Knowing the "why" in why you are paying child support, makes adjustments possible and regular payments easy.
When working with post-decree couples who are having child support problems, I have learned that many of the problems are due to ignorance on the part of the payor. Who is to blame? Perhaps the payor, the attorney, judge, therapist, or mediator all played a part in developing this misunderstanding. Once this has occurred and a couple seeks mediation to resolve the conflict, there probably already exists a poor and inconsistent payment history. Additionally, both parties are already full of anger and anxiety. Looking at the how custody and visitation plans are working will directly effect child support arrangements. Understanding the relationship between child support and custody and visitation is the key to knowing how to achieve modifications and changes.
True, we all know that there are always going to be people who have been ordered to pay child support and simply won't. They are best left to law enforcement and stronger enforcement of the law.
However, there is a large group of people who do pay but are not consistent with the time and amounts that they do pay. Post-decree clients in these situations come to mediation for a variety of reasons. Some reasons child support agreements fail are: the payor can not afford it, the loss of a job or income, or misunderstandings on how funds are used.
I have spent a great deal of time with clients such as these and frequently when custody is shared equally, there are often complaints about why they should pay child support when they have the children half the time. People in this category must have a strong mutually agreed upon commitment to the child support plan they formed. Mediation is designed and very successful in drawing out this commitment from couples. In the end, once this mutual agreement and commitment is achieved, the most important people in the whole process will win—your children.
To research child support guidelines and about your individual states regulations effect you go to: supportguidelines.com
Brian James is a mediator with C.E.L. and Associates, a mediation, therapy, and coaching services firm with offices throughout Chicagoland and Southeastern Wisconsin. Learn more about the advantages of mediation and co mediation in Illinois for divorce at celandassociates.com. Visit our blog for information tips, trends, and advice on mediation and divorce at http://www.celandassociates.com/blog/.