Child Support: It's More than Money
Wow! We had an incredible response to last week's blog about child support! I know this topic is very important to families as one parent can feel like they cannot afford to pay what the court ordered or the other parent feels like they are not getting enough support to care for the child(ren). Child support is a sensitive subject for the parent having to pay and the parent receiving. The numbers will never feel right to either parent.
One parent (either the receiving or paying) may be hiding incomes/assets that could leave to higher or lower support payments. A parent may chose to be under-employed or not work at all in hopes of raising or lowering their child support obligation. Or perhaps a parent is wanting to take more or give less overnights in an attempt to lower or raise child support. There are a number of ways some parents will try to play with the figures. Some parents are aware of what can "trigger" a parent's child support obligation to be more or less.
However, parents must keep in mind child support is more than just money. And no matter what a person pays it truly never covers everything the child is going to need in life. In 2017 Alex Glenn at NerdWallet ( https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/cost-of-raising-a-child/ ) wrote an article stating it costs a MARRIED couple to raise a child from birth to 18 (keep in mind that is one year less than Indiana requires parents to pay child support) $260,00.00 JUST. FOR. THE. BASICS. The basics are food, shelter, transportation, healthcare, and inexpensive clothing. Now we all know children require a lot more than just those necessities - there are daycare, schooling, extracurricular activities, holiday and birthday gifts, phone bills, vacations, car insurance, and college costs, to name a few. According to Alex Glenn, transportation and housing at $80,000.00 are the biggest costs to married parents.
It is important to realize child support alone will not cover all those costs and expenses of raising or providing for your child(ren). So thinking that $100 a week child support obligation is a lot or too little, is well foolish on both ends. Parents should work together and discuss the following:
1. What is it that our children need to survive (i.e. a safe home, food, insurance, clothing, schooling)
2. What is it that our children need to be well in life (i.e. tutoring, braces, counseling);
3. What is it that our children need to be happy (i.e. attend camps, play sports, be part of a group, go to college, go on vacations with family and friends, have parents that are civil to one another)
4. What can we give/provide our children as extras (i.e. a car, a phone, birthday gifts, holiday gifts/costumes)
In Indiana, legislators have come up with a way to calculate child support - they consider your gross weekly income, weekly health insurance payments (for the child only, not the entire weekly cost one pays), weekly daycare/aftercare costs, and total overnights the person paying support gets with the child(ren). This link, https://mycourts.in.gov/csc/parents/ will take you to the Indiana Child Support Calculator, just do some rough numbers and see what you get.......
And, that's it. That is what Indiana thinks you should pay/receive to care for your child(ren) each week. Now think above back to the above list and the NerdWallet article, is the number you got going to help your child survive, be well in life, and be happy? And will it give you the opportunity to provide your child(ren) with the extras in life you desire for them? If yes, then perfect the Indiana calculator did not fail you, but if your answer is no, then talking with the other parent and finding a number or agreeing each party pays for certain items, is a lot better than crossing your fingers and hoping your child will never need or want in life.
Parents should sit down and discuss the financial aspects of their child(ren) together, every year at least. Consider and talk about the true cost of raising their child(ren) until they are 19 years old and possibly beyond will help diminish conflict that may arise over money. Children are aware that a "value" is placed on them in the form of child support, don't ever make them feel as if that value is too little or too much.
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