Why is child support and alimony rooted in revenge, power, and humiliation?

Why is child support and alimony rooted in revenge, power, and humiliation?

The full question was actually: “Why is child support and alimony rooted in revenge, power, control, and humiliation over the father instead of support for the child?”

This is a good question, but not because your question is based upon accurate information; your presumption that child support and alimony are rooted in revenge, power, control, and humiliation is not universally true in all cases.

There are certainly divorce and child custody cases that arise where a spouse’s request for alimony or a spouse’s or parent’s request for child support are unreasonably, even outrageously high and often based upon false claims of need and ability to pay.

But to suggest that the purposes of alimony are nothing other than revenge, control, and humiliation is simply not true. There are some situations where an ex-spouse (and men can receive alimony, not just women, even though the majority of alimony recipients are women) clearly needs and deserves some financial support from the ex-spouse. The purpose of alimony is to ensure that the ex-spouse awarded alimony in such a situation does not become a public charge, a welfare recipient.

Child support is an interesting subject because there is no one right way to set and implement child support policy. In some jurisdictions, child support is a fixed amount regardless of the number of overnights the children spend with each parent. In other jurisdictions, child support is based upon the child support payor’s income. Other jurisdictions calculate child support based upon the number of overnights the children spend with each parent and/or upon the income of both parents. Still other jurisdictions will consider a host of other factors. Regardless of what factors determine child support, the purpose of child support is essentially the same: to ensure the child’s needs and lifestyle are maintained as much as reasonably possible. Again, the purpose of child support, as is the case with alimony, is to provide support, not to punish or unduly burden or humiliate the payor.

That doesn’t mean that spouses, parents, and courts can’t run amok, with the results being crushingly unfair alimony and child support awards, even awards that are punitive in nature. It can and does happen on occasion, but it is, fortunately, the exception.

What arises more often than you might imagine, however, are alimony and/or child support awards that are based upon a belief that the payor’s ability to pay is far, far greater than it actually is. These poor (literally) payor’s find themselves burdened with a spousal support and/or child support obligation that leaves them with literally just a few hundred dollars per month to live on, after they have met their alimony and/or child support obligations. Such circumstances are grossly unfair but do arise sometimes. The best way to ensure that this does not happen to you is to provide the court with sufficient proof of your real income and/or your true income earning potential, so that it’s not left to the court’s imagination to determine. For some people proving one’s true income or ability to earn is easier said than done, but it is well worth the effort if it means that the court does not stick you with an alimony and/or child support obligation you cannot bear.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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