California parents who have gone through a divorce may be aware of the disconnect between the way most people see child support laws and the reality of how these laws work. According to one study, the public largely believes the formulas that calculate child support are unfair. Likewise, the existing child support laws are not believed to be consistent with the average person’s view of fairness. The researchers in the study found that many respondents believed that child support should be adjusted based on the mother’s income, assuming she is the parent with custody. In some states, child support calculations are based on the noncustodial parent’s income, while others look at the resources of both parents.
The study’s participants were given cases to examine and asked to set the amount of child support for each case. The researchers changed the incomes of the mother and father to see how the study’s participants changed their answers. The study found that respondents kept the amount of child support owed the same even if the father’s income decreased.
The study also explored whether people believed the amount of child support should change if the custodial parent remarried, and they generally did. However, remarriage in reality changes nothing in child support cases because the courts believe the child’s biological parents still have responsibility. In most cases, courts do not hold stepparents to be legally responsible for the support of their stepchildren.
A parent contemplating ending a marriage will likely have to deal with the issue of child support and might want to consider contacting a family law attorney for assistance. Each state has its own set of guidelines that are used in calculating the amount that will be owed, but in some cases, a judge may make a variation from those guidelines on the basis of compelling evidence.