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Here is the fifth in a series of Divorce Corp polls. Please vote only once. We will post the results after we have received a statistically significant number of votes.

[polldaddy poll=7833477]

And here is the result of Poll #5, accurate to + / – 3%.


It is rare that we disagree with our voters. Actually, under the current system of laws, we do agree with our voters. But if our preferred reforms were to be enacted, receipts would be unnecessary.  We will let one of our readers explain:

We need to limit paperwork, not create more of it. Especially in light of the fact that people can produce whatever they like in court anyways. The only reason this poll is on the table is the ludicrous levels of support being paid. Cap the amounts and this is a non-issue.” Patrick Glynn

We think that Patrick has pointed out a better solution: cap child support at an amount necessary to raise a child, and no more. In other words, eliminate any potential financial benefit for being a custodial parent.

We strongly believe that child support should be for children, not for custodial parents. Child support should not be conflated with alimony. Our current testosterone propionate cycle child support formulas bring children into the middle of a financial tug of war – and that is wrong. Children should not be financial pawns that the courts dangle in front of parents to tempt them to fight. Children should not be the objects by which states attain Federal matching funds in order to make up for deficiencies in their treasuries (Title IV-D funding). The psychological harm done to children placed in the middle of a custody battle should not be rationalized as “acceptable collateral damage” in order for attorneys and custody evaluators to get rich, so that they, in turn, can transfer some of that wealth, directly or indirectly, to judges.

Including pseudo-alimony into the child support formula was a political plum that was given to the custodial parent lobby years ago. It is unhealthy for the children who are caught up in the middle of custody battles, and fuels unnecessary animosity and resentment from payor parents.  Pseudo-aliomony needs to be eliminated from the child support formula.

  • Child support should be capped at the minimum amount needed to raise a child.
  • The state should not serve the best interests of the children of wealthy parents more so than the children of parents of modest means (e.g. every child merits the same amount of child support).
  • The state should get out of the business of raising Federal matching funds at the expense of the mental health of our children.
  • The courts should stop dangling children in front of desperate parents in order to incentivize them to pay legal fees.
  • The state should stop making value judgments between two competent parents in order to label one “custodial” and the other “non-custodial”. This is an outdated social model that wreaks of inequality. The state should not perpetuate this model in order to keep its flow of Federal matching funds.

We think effective legislative reform would involve taking the profit out of being a custodial parent. Examination of receipts then would be unnecessary. Our laws should protect the mental health and well being of our children, not pull them into the middle of an unnecessary fight.

61 thoughts on “Should Parents Who Receive Child Support Be Required To Produce Receipts? Poll #5

  1. Producing reciepts is easy in this cashless society. Just look at the credit cards and the automatic payments from a bank. There is no excuse not to produce receipts. Very little is paid for in cash now.
    This can be the first step to making sure that child support is used to support the child, instead of providing free room and board to the “custodial parent”‘s lovers.
    Since, according to the Bradley Amendment of 1986, child support is an unerasable debt, we should all take extra care to be sure that it is earmarked for the child and not the custordial parent’s lifestyle. The Bradley Amendment makes arrears for child support never go away, charges usurious interest, and does not take into account the ordinary downturns in the career of a breadwinner. The bank acounts and all savings of the child support payor can be taken.
    The Bradley Amendment should be changed to forgive child support arrears for non-payment for legitimate reasons. The child support enforcement agents have the right to see your tax returns and bank account balances and would know what your income and savings really are. Let us all work from there.

    • I believe that child support should be forgiven in the case that the daddy doesn’t even know a child exist. The time the mother takes from the father that he doesn’t even know there is a child is unforgivable..she knows from the start, he knows nothing until she tells him…..those cases should never have back child support! Never!!!……and there should be laws in place to punish her for the time taken form the child and father. I also believe that child support should be a tax write off since the non custodial usually doesn’t get the tax credit/dependant on his taxes or that both parties should only get 1/2 each of the credit…..the father should get some kind of break for his expense, because he is already being punished in so many ways of deprived of the child and his rights, this one would be easy compensation

  2. My ex spent the money on herself not on the kids. I took another job to give my kids what the wanted and needed. I was told by our Human Serviecs tha she could spend the child support money any way she wanted to and I had no say. My job was to make sure the payments were on time and in the amount they decided I could pay.

    • Same here, my future husband pays a decent amount to his ex. We buy all their clothes and shoes each season change. She brings them for visitation in pj’s no shoes or coats. We buy more. Any field trip, school pictures, anything she can get from him she does. Kicker, she makes more money then him, and we only get to see the children every other weekend and every Tuesday.Too many fathers are taken advantage of. I think they should give these women a debit card that allows the fathers to pull a statement each month.

    • Iwas also told by a support Magistrate here in NYS the same thing .She even went as far to tell me that the mother can spend the money any way she wants “she can buy a new car” etc.Too bad I couldn’t record this outburst from this feminist snake.Conveniently recording devices aren’t allowed in these houses of evil!

  3. Yes!! Far too many parents profiting from their kids and refusing to actually provide!
    Trust but verify works!

  4. I believe in some cases the custodial parent should have to prove that they are supporting the child especially when the custodial parent should never have gotten custody of the child due to a severe history of drug & alcohol abuse along with a history of paying for prostitutes. If the mother can document every penny she paid/pays for the child before and after losing custody of the child then the father should have to prove he’s utilized the money for the child and not his own self gain.

    I also do not believe that the child support that either the mother or the father utilize on themselves for their own selfish gain as the money is for the necessities of these children, to utilize the money for selfish gain is highly inappropriate and should be illegal.

    So to answer the question of should the parents prove that they are utilizing the funds for the children, yes if they can’t prove they have been utilizing the funds for the child on necessities then they should not be getting a child support check, the non-custodial parent that is forced to pay & sometimes illegally forced to pay the other parent should be immune to this abuse.

  5. The judge was very generous to my ex-wife. When I was in a VA hospital getting my knee replaced and was unable to go back to work for months he refused to lower the amount I paid in support to match what I was currently receiving. I received $1800 a month but was still paying $2600 a month is support. It is criminal what judges do.

    In addition, I still paid for my kids clothes and sports as she put the money in “HER” account. Such BS, laws need to be changed!

      • Mr. Sorge,

        I commend you for your movie Divorce Corp. Your responses are eloquently written in the comments of the various polls. I know the injustices that occurred to me in the Sedgwick County Kansas Family Law Division have been experienced by others across the United States and have been documented on your website. Thank you for your leadership to reform the system. At times I have been so angry by the ridiculous, expensive family court that I wasn’t always able to communicate to others outside of the courts without sounding disgruntled, jaded, and bitter. It has been over three years since my divorce began. There is a ripple effect that occurs with the injustice of family law that is far reaching. Whenever a person (i.e. my ex wife) receives a judgment that is not based on fairness it can feed the vindictive behavior that occurs and cause them to continue to litigate because they know they can profit from doing so. It feeds the monster so to speak. I remember going to a stand up hearing believing that the alimony I was paying would either stay the same or be decreased. The judge DOUBLED it! I have story after story of this type of craziness. Because of the tactics used in court and allowed to be used in court, I have lost my job, my house, and potentially my credit since I’m on the verge of bankruptcy as I write this. This is the first time in 40 years I have had any financial problems. I remember going pro se on a hearing to remove an automatic income withholding order. I knew I was likely to lose even though the state statute supported my argument. As I predicted the judge denied my motion and advised me to hire an attorney. I had already spent tens of thousands of dollars on attorneys up to that point. I wasn’t going to feed the family law black hole any longer. Even though I lost the case that day it was one of the rare times I walked out of the courtroom smiling. I was smiling because usually when I lost I was also paying an attorney $250/hour to lose. I was happy because that day I lost for FREE!

        • I wanted to mention another thing I have witnessed. Sedgwick county judges have recently calculated child support on “potential” income versus “actual” income. This should be extremely concerning to the public. It allows the judge to come up with a fictitious number as a basis for the support calculation. You can appeal these types of decisions, but again you feed the machine and judges are very good at protecting each other.

    • If you do not name that judge, you’re letting him walk. Tell Joseph Sorge his name and things will be in motion around the area.

  6. Child support should be a fixed same amount for everyone. Not this if you make more you pay more system. When people go to the store to buy food or clothes it’s a fixed same price for everyone, they don’t charge you more or less based on your income.

    My child support was based on how much I made at a previous job where I had unlimited overtime and worked 80-90 hours per week. Not the job I had already been working at for 2 years with no overtime after the previous company closed down. They take 65% of my pay which is the legal max they can steal, and it still isn’t enough to satisfy the amount I’m ordered to pay. This leaves me impossibly forever owing back support.

    If the receiving person was required to produce receipts the court system would also be able to clearly see the EXCESSIVE amounts taken from some of us. During the times my kids are with me I can’t even afford food to feed them, let alone anything else, despite having a very good paying job, I am also stuck living in a run down studio apartment and can not afford to even maintain my vehicle I need for work and kids. The mother and her live in boyfriend do not work and both live off of the $1600 a month support money taken from me. The kids have old worn out clothes, she spends none of the money on them. Her jobless live in boyfriend just posted pictures on Facebook of his brand new Harley they just bought. So yes, they should be required to produce receipts, show the judge the receipt for the Harley you both just bought while neither of you have worked 1 day since you started receiving “child” support.

    • Tony, we completely agree that child support should be the same, fixed amount for every child within an “economic zone”. The cost of food, clothing, and other necessities may be higher in certain areas of the country than other areas. No child should be protected by the state (e.g. given more or less money than it costs for that child’s necessities) than any other child – in our view that violates the US constitution. The current method for calculating child support, by taking a percentage of the provider’s income, provides more protection to some children than other children. In fact, this method of calculating “child support” is really a way to extract extra alimony for the custodial parent in cases where that percentage is greater than the cost of raising a child. We believe that this formula came about due to political pressure from custodial parents, not because it is good for children. We believe this is very bad public policy. Alimony and child support should be 2 separate things. By conflating them, we have created the incentive to battle in court over custody of children. And that is very, very bad for the children.

  7. I have made suggestion that any child support be issued on a “DEBIT” card system just like the EBT. A cash limit can be set and at anytime the payer of the support can ask for an accounting of where the money is spent and what it is spent on. This would make all the thieving women that spend it on themselves always know they are accountable! Most CSE offices already load money on a card there is absolutely no reason why the payor should not have visibility and disclosure on the funds.

    • I am with you on this one. I have mentioned the use of EBT cards. If those EBT cards were fraudulently misused, abused, or in any way buying things for themselves instead of the child, then law enforcement would be all over the thieving women’s butts.

      • Hello Hunter. The only tweak we’d suggest is “custodial parent” instead of “women”. Although not equal, some custodial parents are men. We want to be gender neutral in our quest to make family law fair to mothers, fathers, and children. Rest assured though, that going forward, we’d like to see the term “custodial parent” eliminated from our legal system except in cases where there is only one parent living. Thanks.

  8. My ex (non-custodial parent) has never paid child support, and has always kept the children’s social security payments ( he is “disabled”). The court and Social Security were ok with the kids and myself getting food stamps and being on Medicaid as I worked 48-60 hours per week as an EMT and still couldn’t make ends meet. Judge told me since ex was “disabled” it would make the divorce go faster if I “just let it go”. I would add any money received by a parent, custodial or otherwise, should be justified so the kids get what they should.

    • Why is he collecting the kids payments? All you need to to do is show social security you are the custodial parent with your parenting agreement and switch it to your care. The Social Security guidelines do not allow a non custodial parent to collect unless there is a court order to do so. I’m a confused and concerned when I read what you wrote.

  9. I know mine goes to beer, cigarettes, junk food and movies. And I’m made out to be the bad guy because I won’t supply new clothes, etc., on top of my alimony and support. And I know longer see my kids thanks to PAS. But I will lose my license if I stop supporting bad habits and unhealthy lifestyles. My payments are scrutinized to the penny. It seems logical that there should be a least some effort in checking that the money is spent on the children.

  10. If the ex isn’t paying enough in child support to even pay the child’s health care what heck does it matter? As long as the child is healthy and well taken care of.

    • The ex is only supposed to be paying 50% of anything. If the custodial parent creates a budget, and to save themselves money they only budget 25 a month for clothes, their mindset should be that the other parent only be paying 12.50 of that. I’d say, after reading your comment, that the custodial parent needs to be the one picking up the slack.

  11. I trusted their mom had the best interests in the children. I filled the void where I thought more could be done by buying clothes etc… I eventually would learn the selfishness, bad example, bad decisions and addictions that were plaguing their mom. I would go to court and win and bring my children home fulltime.. To this day, many years later and kids in their twenties Im still never surprised or amazed at the stories which come out from when they lived with their mom…. and how very sorry I am for not recognizing and doing something earlier. Yes unfortunately some single parents ruin it for others, but on a discrete basis, some should have to show proof in support of the childrens needs.

  12. Receipts should be turned in for evidence clearly stating what it is for. We had 3 children together after many years of an abusive marriage he received custody of the and sent them to three different homes in three different states. He was granted a hardship through the courts after declaring bankruptcy fraudulently on a business that grossed over 1 million a year and had started a job making over $100,000 a year. I was making $14,000 a year at the time. I had put him through school and helped him build his business and was working towards a family goal not a selfish one. After all was said and done I signed and a judge signed no alimony and no child support. I left the state to save my life from the abuser. My income then dropped due to moving during a recession to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. While making minimum wage he went to court and was granted child support because he said he “needed” it. Now he does nothing for the older kids who are full time college students and over 18. Over $300 comes out of my check garnished and additional for back owed support. My alimony easily would have been $2000 a month. My couds could have all of that. If I ever say anything I am the bad guy. I was proud when all of the kids told about the abuse in a room full of police, mental health professionals and school officials. It is sad how corrupt our government is. Nothing was done then and I haven’t seen one of my kids since 2009. I never was allowed by him to see them when I lived there and I was tired of paying to fix the vandalism done to my car. The final straw was when I was almost run off the road in the canyons twice after being followed from work. It’s a shame nobody listens and does something. No matter who you write or tell.

  13. The reason you don’t verify receipts is: 1. Take forever and too hard to verify and more importantly,
    2. If single, mom could have one bedroom apt. With kids, may need 2 or 3 bedroom apt, meaning more rent, more heat, and more water use. Will not be specific receipts for all these costs as well as other costs for children. This is some dumb idea by a man who feels he’s paying too much.

      • Joseph, I don’t see how? A one bedroom is cheaper on a person all together then a two or three. Plus anything I received income based the child support counted whether I received it or not so if my rent can be up because i “receive” child support then you need to use the support to pay the rent. I do feel child support should be spent on the child only but having a bed to sleep in a home just the right temperature are needs of the child and the government uses child support against both sides since it counts as income for both parties. Personally if had to i could bounce from couch to couch if i hit a hard time but with a child that isn’t something i would do. Luckily other then my very quick move after my now ex husband threatened my life and kidnapping our daughter I have been stable and we have our own place.

  14. I did not answer the poll because I don’t feel it’s as simple as yes or no. I’ve seen a lot of valid points here and don’t want to diminish them. However, having been the custodial parent, it’s not as clear cut as a specific receipt for a specific item that can be directly tied to the child or children. Rent must be paid, groceries must be purchased, automobiles need gas, gas, lights, water and garbage must be paid. All of this is to the benefit of the child, but might not seem so on a receipt basis. Child support money becomes part of the family budget; circumstances of divorce require that. It can’t be placed in a separate pot and used only for child-specific items. The fact that an ex buys booze and cigarettes does not mean that child support money is not being spent on the child.

    • Valid points. We believe that when a couple has agreed to divide parenting duties such that one parent forfeits a career, then alimony is warranted. But we do not think it is wise to mix the concepts of child support and alimony because it puts the children in the middle of a financial tug of war that is really related to the life styles of the parents. Also, because of the Federal matching funds that states receive for the collection of child support, it motivates family courts to boost child support awards to unreasonably (and sometime unattainably) high levels. The result can be devastation for the entire family when the provider is thrown in jail for failing to make payments.

      • Joseph,
        I have the feeling that you can’t decide on one sum for all children as you stated further up. For some people that sum will be far too high pay, and for some it’s really too low.
        If the kids are coming from poverty, it can be really tough for the custodial parent to pay a “normal” child support. If the kids are coming from really high income earning, the sum might be far too low. Some spouses who are very rich and business owners have methods to hide the money before a divorce, and there is no way that the other parent will get a fair sum of alimony or share of the money.

        My ex provided documents for “loans” in the millions which he owed his dad. He also gifted our one million dollar home to his dad the day I filed for divorce.

        I was left with no nothing, but three kids (3, 4 and 6) to raise. I had to get the child support paid out in a lump sum to be able to pay my lawyers – their bill was worth 7 years of child support. I didn’t get a dime out of the sale of the house since it was given by my ex to my ex-father-in-law (also a multi millionaire of course) and I had to take another 7 years of child support to put into a new house.

        Never received a dime for extra ordinary health costs, sports, music, education etc from him. He has also not seen the kids the last almost 5 years, and has not even bought a candy for them during that time period. No Christmas gifts, no birthday gifts.

        Actually, the last time he saw them (in 2009), he bought them one tooth brush to share for a week. This during flu season and of course they all got sick. Guess who paid for the hospital bill? Me of course.

        Also, having to show every cent that has been gone from the child support to the children is another tool for abusers to continue to abuse after the divorce. Financial abuse is a horrible form of abuse. Parents who have been controlled over money will continue to be so if that’s the case.

        Either way, I think no parent wants to raise the children because it’s a financial gain. It’s not. No matter the sum you might get, I have never heard about anybody (man or woman) who is financing a new lover with the child support.

        If the child support would have to be shown in receipts, perhaps somebody should also be left with a new bill when it comes out that it’s not enough also. What happens when it’s shown that every single dime was used for the child, but it’s still not enough. Back to court for new negotiation?

        I think you would find that in most cases…

        • Colomon, you sound like a very good, loving parent. So this reply is not meant for you personally, or anyone who currently has a child support award. Rather it is our opinion about what should be done to reform our laws going forward.

          We do not believe that the children of wealthy parents should warrant a higher child support award than the children of middle income or low income parents. If a wealthy parent wishes to provide more, voluntarily, than the minimal necessary amount to their children, whether they are under their personal custody or the custody of the other parent, fine. So be it. But the government should not demand more for the children (and ex spouse) of a wealthy parent than a low income parent. Our government does not demand that high income married persons spend more on their children than low income married persons. If such high income married persons wish to spend more voluntarily, fine. But it is not required. Therefore, we do not believe our government should pursue a policy where the children of low income divorced persons receive less than the children of high income divorced persons. We also do not believe that the dependent ex-spouse of a high-income provider should be entitled to more than the ex-spouse of a low-income provider, unless such persons have voluntarily entered into a dependent support agreement specifying an amount of spousal support.

          For truly poor parents who are not able to afford the minimal amount necessary to support a child, how do we handle this today? We see no need to change this going forward. We are not saying that all child support should be tied to the lowest amount affordable to the poorest parent in the country. We are saying that child support should be the same amount for every child in the country, an amount that is no more than what is necessary for basic health and welfare. If a poor parent is unable to pay it, then we supplement the amount as we do today. But the ex-spouse and children of a high income parent should not have a ticket to paradise; and if you do not believe that this happens, you should see our movie Divorce Corp or read our book of the same title. We believe that entitlement to luxury is very bad public policy.

          We are dismayed to learn that your lawyers took 7 years of child support away from your children. That, in itself, shows how dysfunctional and destructive our system is. The professionals always justify their actions by talking about protecting the bests interests of the children, yet it appears that they could not have given a hoot about the children they took 7 years of support from. What more do we need to tell us that our system is broken?

  15. YES!!! I’ve already paid for my ex’s van, cell phones & vacations through child support while I STILL have to get my daughters hair cut, school supplies, clothes and more clothes since the ones my daughter takes to her mothers either are never returned or returned cut up with ink all over them.

  16. Receipts should be mandatory. I only got $154/month when I had the kids and spent more than that on food each month, yet the ex complained I didn’t shop for their clothing a Kohls. Really?

  17. No. I receive child support when my ex does decide to work but if he’s allowed to ask me for receipts I should be allowed to do the same. I have a house full of toys, dressers full of clothes, fridge full of food, and any medication she may need that should be proof enough that I spend the money on her. Where as I know he doesn’t spend a dime. His family pays all their bills and buys everything for our daughter while he spends his money on alcohol. Whether my ex pays his support or not our daughter never goes with out. He usually loses jobs around thanksgiving so I buy for Christmas without his money and I buy for her birthday with out his money. I pay for the after school activities with out his required 50% just like if she wants to do to a private school and I can swing the bill I will do so with out his 50%. He is always all for after school activities right until I tell him its going to cost him maybe $20 then he doesn’t want her to do it. So I no longer even bother trying to get him to pay his half.

    • OMG Amber you sound like my case. BUT I will tell you there is a silver lining eventually. My ex husband died in Dec 2013. His family lied to the courts and GAL about his drinking. They would never think that when them met him. My daughter now 13 has told the GAL about his bad habits. No one believed me or her and life went on as usual owing me in the end over 30K in child support. He worked when he did and lost his jobs. He would blame me for everything and so would his parents. So much they slam me on the internet and have a whole facebook page about me supposedly abusing my child. I lost both of my jobs and forced to move out of state for a cheaper living and new reputation. For someone who didn’t have money he got it from his parents money for the attorney’s, GAL to fight me not to leave the state. In the end I won but he died 3 months after I left. The grand parents tried to put in saying I had custody with the grandparents since the beginning and it was false. They put a clause which I think was planned cuz they knew he was dying from his disease that they would get grand parent rights if he died well they were wrong. Now they leave me completely alone …for now but I have my attorney on retainer to clean there clock when this is comes up. To get back on the subject I paid for the private school, clothes, food everything. My ex said to allow his parents to pay for him. After his death I found out thought social security he was working for the past 3 years when he told the courts he wasn’t and was granted an abatement. His social security statement revealed different. I think we should be entitled to get social security statements with the name of the employer when ever the custodial parent wants. I see that receipts could allow for more scrutiny for finances to the custodial parent. If that is the case then we should have ALL the facts of the non custodial parent as well like Social Security Statements. Talk about hiding money lets see about hiding money.

  18. No, but child support shouldn’t be set at levels so high as to amount to extortion either. Both households need to be maintained for the children, not just one. Funds should be available to both parents to ensure their children can maintain a moderate life with both parents in light of the decision to divorce. Child support should not be used as a sanction against parents when they divorce, nor should it be used as a continued manner to manipulate and control either parent (paying or receiving).

  19. If the American Civil Liberty Union, lawyers really gave a shit about equal and fair treatment and JUSTICE in any instance, they WOULD TAKE THE American DIVORCE court cases of fathers up and support them as the unrepresented minority they are……
    Fathers in the legal/Divorce system as it is, in America are completely without any means to obtain fair treatment and settlements of their divorce in todays system…..
    I strongly feel that altho there are cases where women are truly abused and mistreated that the bulk of women today are sysyematically abusing their rights to obtain protection orders against obviously innocent husbands in MANY cases.
    They should at least have to produce a witness or some strong eveidence to the fact they need an order put on someone before issuing one on a mere “request” from the wife…..
    the system is so flagrantly stacked against husbands that there surely is some legal remedy for such ABUSE of power and rights in a supposedly fair and unbiased legal system……

  20. I am a working mom and custodial parent of a child from my first marriage. I would have no problem documenting expenses for basic necessities for my daughter. My exhusband is supposed to pay child support based on our state’s income formula. He got thousands of dollars behind before the prosecutor got involved. Now his wages are garnished and it is slowly being paid. The amount he is supposed to pay doesn’t come close to half of my child’s basic needs. His income is 4x mine. Don’t worry, I make up the difference and then some. My child has everything that is needed and a few “wants” too. I’m clever and frugal. Coupons for school supplies, last season’s tennis shoes on amazon, volunteer at preschool etc.

    In case there are any grumpy dads out there wondering, I always permited visitation, communicated and shared openly regardless of how delinquent child support payments became. I understand my obligations even if the ex doesn’t.

    My divorce decree states that I will insure my child and after I pay $X out of pocket my ex will pay X%. I have to provide EOB statements, billing statements, receipts and proof of payment that I paid 100% before I submit these documents to him. It took over 3 years and 2 contempt of court hearings before he paid any of his X% after I fronted everything. Currently he has paid a couple of the court ordered payments and the last check he wrote to me bounced. I’m sharing this because there are good and bad parents on both sides of the issue. There shouldn’t ever be a problem documenting that you are taking care of a kid if you are. Custodial or Non custodial should both ultimately CARE for the child in every way.

    It’s CO-parenting, not one responsible parent and an odd parent who only enjoys the perks of having a cool kid.

    I disagree with NAMELESS. This isn’t a cashless society. I live debt free with out any credit cards. While clothing as a necessity is subjective. How much is necessity? I buy a lot of items at yard sales with cash. Craigslist is another place I get used items without receipts. That would be tricky to document.

    I also see a potential problem with privacy for families and individials who have an abusive person paying support. If a parent bought a monthy pharmacutical for a child at a regular time. The receipt would show where she would be at the same time each month. Idealy, if the former spouce was that prone to stalking or violence the court would have a mechanism in place to protect her, but we all know how unlikely that is. Therefor, details like the purchase time should be allowed to be redacted.

    Overall, I think that if you’re coparenting with an irresponsible person you have more problems than where the child support is going. I have yet to see a court make a “bad” parent behave in the childs best interest.

    • These are very good points. Thank you! Because we did not want to bias the voting, we did not want to post our opinion about receipts. But now that we have the data, we can say that we do not believe that receipts should be necessary to verify child-related expenses. HOWEVER, we think that child support levels should be fixed to the minimum amount necessary for the needs of the child, unless the couple has decided otherwise by private agreement. In that way, parents who squander their child support payments will not be providing for the needs of their child and they will then lose custody of their child as a result of this parental neglect.

    • “In case there are any grumpy dads out there wondering, I always permited visitation, communicated and shared openly regardless of how delinquent child support payments became.”

      Regardless of how delinquent,? Seriously? Your child is now reduced for a pay only attraction,? Sick and wrong, not only my eyes but Gods. Doesnt matter if you didnt DO it, you still THOUGHT it.

  21. Child support should be put in a separate account, So all expenses can be tracked by producing a statement. What’s frustrating is when in my cad(a man) loses his job, i still had to fork over $2,000 a month(liquidating a 401k with only 24k in it) while my ex has a 75k salary. Its just wrong that one person takes car of a family for 20 years, and then after a divorce, he still has to take care of her while she plays. What people don’t realize is that after divorce, men pay for 99% of dating while women receive the benefits. I like the flat fee. When divorce happens the standard of living should go down for both, why one person gets to maintain or go up in living standards is wrong. Add to the fact that if I bust my butt and make more money, my ex gets rewarded. This system needs to be done away with. She even said she may get a part time job, and in this case in Utah the courts would allow it and double my support payments. Its just wrong.

  22. Joseph, I can’t thank you enough for making this film. If you’re not aware the comedian Bill Burr is the first celebrity I’ve ever heard speak about divorce settlements and the injustices involved. He would make be a great voice to get the message out on his weekly podcast as he just recently got married after vowing he never would. I’m sure he would love to see this film.

  23. We need to limit paperwork, not create more of it. Especially in light of the fact that people can produce whatever they like in court anyways. The only reason this poll is on the table is the ludicrous levels of support being paid. Cap the amounts and this is a non-issue.

  24. I would like to keep it simple. If it is obvious that the child’s needs are met and generally look well taken care of, then no. There is no need. If there is an issue whether or not a child is being “taken care of” by the custodial parent, then the issue is probably going to go to court in some form anyway. But normally common sense will tell you if the child support is being squandered and not used for it’s intention. It becomes fuzzy when the custodial parent pays the little league expense due to deadlines, but then uses the child support to pay bills. Just pay attention to the well being of the child, and try to get along???

  25. Children should be supported by BOTH parents. Parenting time should be split equally between the father and the mother, unless there are compelling reasons for a different arrangement. Each parent should pay for the child’s expenses when the child is with them. Child support should be rare and only when the child is not spending time with both parents. Many other western democracies handle child support this way. Unlike the US, where children are seen as property of the mother, the father is a visitor in the lives of the children and the father is an income source regardless of the mother s financial situation. If there must be child support, it should depend upon the time children spend with each parent, upon the income of both parents and the needs of the child.

    Demanding receipts will not help and it will only increase burden of record keeping and dishonesty.

  26. I don’t think having a set amount for the cost of raising kids would work. When I had kids, I brought them into a certain standard of living. Unlike many people today, I actually married (shocker, I know!), had children, stayed home with them, and my husband worked. I chose a husband who could provide for a family. My children should not suffer just because our marriage failed. Luckily, I started a home business when my children were babies that provides income so I can continue to work from home and homeschool them. Using child support I am able to provide a decent home in a nice area, and sign them up for numerous sports and activities. If the state decided a set amount for “needs,” would we have to live in a run down area? Would my kids ever get to take dance classes again, or participate on the elite soccer team? You say let the parents decide what to do over and above this set amount, but the truth is, a LOT of kids would never be able to do anything because the parents can’t agree on what or how much to spend, or the parent with more money would refuse to pay for more than what they must. This is another reason shared parenting would not work with these SAME high conflict families. The “other” parent would refuse to take the child to games on their week/end. It happens ALL the time. The bigger problem is that there are parents on BOTH sides who are just plain crappy individuals who use the children as pawns. We need to stop procreating with these people! We can’t use the courts to fix the idiot we had children with. If you married the type of person that would drink and party with your money, HELLOOOOO! What were you thinking? I encourage everyone I know to stay out of the court system and figure out everything on their own. But when you make a poor choice in a spouse or parent for your children, there are going to be consequences constantly and the kids are going to suffer. And it is NOT always the female who is crazy, it goes both ways! No receipts unless there is an issue, and child support should remain income based. Neither side should be able to use the other, but overall, the most important thing is the needs of the children, not the parents.

    • Evelyn, I address all of your concerns in my book Divorce Corp. First, we are not advocating child support reforms for people who already have children, only for people who have children going forward. Second, we fully respect the right of couples who wish to live traditional life styles to enter into dependent support agreements. Such agreements would provide for dependent spousal and child support in the event the marriage does not last. In other words, agree on how the parenting and work duties will be divided up before having children. If you prospective spouse does not agree with what you want, you’ve saved yourself a failed marriage. Third, we do not think that child support should change depending on the percentage of custody time. This would reduce fighting over custody time. If these changes are implemented, we do not think there should be a problem in reducing state-mandated child support to the same amount for every child. Couples who both work and share parenting duties should not be treated by the state as if they had elected a provider / dependent relationship and forced to submit to a burdensome child support plan just because the state receives Federal matching funds for every dollar of child support they award and collect. Thanks

  27. Here’s a simple and more contemporary idea based on premise that SOCIETY WANTS MARRIAGES TO WORK. New approach must:
    – encourage spousal compromise instead of setting up a desirable divorce outcome.
    – both spouses lose same economical thru the divorce (the current system gives an illusion that one side benefits financially from a divorce and sometimes does but attorneys always gain).
    – neither benefits by filing first (current system has a “prisoner’s dilemma” effect -first to file gets upper hand).

    The idea comes from a country we all know very well where capitalism works to ensure effective and efficient arrangements. Those who do good are rewarded and most who scam eventually get booted. The idea is elementary simply: award custody to parents based on the amount they contribute financially for the child before the divorce. If one parent provided 100% before then he/she has the option for 100% custody. This is NOT A DESIRABLE outcome for either (recall per my premise that is intentional) and is opposite the current default. It encourages each spouse to contribute evenly to the household – both share housework and everything. Nationwide statistic show dual-income families are more stable with lower rate of divorce. Even if this doesn’t work to keep them together, this kills the atmosphere of “entitlement” and non-earners are not incented to file nor are earners necessarily seeking to be single parents. Both are incented to partner in raising their kid. Those who opt to stay home are incented to establish a mutually agree prenuptial before leaving outside work.

    If divorce does occur without prenuptial, the parent with primary custody will utilize funds most efficiently since he/she knows how hard it is to earn. The other parent is then encouraged to focus on getting employed and establishing a household. When able to provide for kids custody increases up to 50%. Even if one makes more than the other, any transfer of funds is limited to mutual agreement and not mandated. Research shows this approach actually increases compliance and also serves to maintain an amenable relationship. Each is solely responsible to the children during their allotted time with 50/50 split of all exception costs. Of course, this applies only for the majority of cases where both are fit parents – an exception process would be negotiated for the rare case where one-or-both are proven unfit by rigorous Due Process and only then is the state allow and required to intervene (parens patriae).
    feedback welcome –

    • Michael, that is a novel proposal. In which country is this now used? I encourage you to look at the solutions proposed in our book, Divorce Corp. They are a little less drastic and work for 25 million Scandinavians. Thanks

      • Joseph, Its just an idea at this point but relies a proven system that operates most everything else in US: capitalism. When the current rules were established, in the time of King George III, it was only needed to keep the husband from running off (with the new pretty girl in town, etc). Laws were established to keep him in check – housewives at the time had no incentive to break their commitment. The original statutes actually listed husband (or man) to provide for wife (or woman). Over time statutes were revised to be gender neutral without any consideration as to why the rules were as they were. Why? See Monkey game … http://gwynteatro.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/encouraging-innovation-the-story-of-the-5-monkeys/. Recall at the time wives and children were effectively managed by the husband and owned by the King. There wasn’t tolerance for wives seeking divorce and, especially if they have children, they would not likely get another husband to provide for her and her children. Divorces were rare as the shared disincentive worked well to keep the family unit working effectively. With social and technological changes of the last 150 yrs, the rules from the dark-ages are now obsolete. Even though they now encourage undesired behavior, interrupting the monkey game is not easy.

      • Joseph, thanks for recording your thoughts in the book. Some movie viewer are disappointed not knowing you propose a solution – was it mentioned in the movie? – I missed it. May be useful to bring greater attention to the required solution. I likewise believe nothing will change until the fuel is removed. The fuel of course being the attractive monetary awards distributed under Socialistic principles where bad behavior is rewarded. Your proposal goes a long way but considering the existing gaming of “child support” in US, leaving even a glimmer of incentive is dangerous. It invites overly biased judges to abuse the one remaining lever available to engineer his/her desired social outcome. Recall many foster parents make fostering a job – they are able to run their entire household from the state support payments. Some short-sighted parents will fight for that coveted role to avoid real work. Terminating the gaming also encourage both parts to fully participate in providing for their children instead of one sitting on the side creatively working to alienate the co-parent or cause other strife. It also quells another issue prominent in the book relating to re-litigation to tap into new-found wealth. It was horrifying to read cases where after the divorce an ex comes back to take what they did not even contribute to. Each should be encouraged to explore new opportunities and not worry about being financially raped yet again. This radical solution, though necessary, will be no less of a threat to beneficiaries than abolishing slavery was in the early 1800’s to plantation owners – there are many who benefit from the servitude of the unfortunate souls. Those how benefit will not give up without a fight. Cheers, MB

  28. Unfortunately, you are leaving out something. I am quoting from your first post.

    “We strongly believe that child support should be for children, not for custodial parents. Child support should not be conflated with alimony. Our current child support formulas bring children into the middle of a financial tug of war – and that is wrong. Children should not be financial pawns that the courts dangle in front of parents to tempt them to fight. Children should not be the objects by which states attain Federal matching funds in order to make up for deficiencies in their treasuries (Title IV-D funding). The psychological harm done to children placed in the middle of a custody battle should not be rationalized as “acceptable collateral damage” in order for attorneys and custody evaluators to get rich, so that they, in turn, can transfer some of that wealth, directly or indirectly, to judges.”

    You only give Title IV-D funding lip service when you put it in these terms. This is not to denigrate the statement in anyway. The problem, however is much more perverse. In 2012, the federal reimbursement program, run by the government paid Texas 3.2 billion dollars i.e. federally matching funds for the collection of child support. Do the math with the other states to get a national total. I agree with the statement up to this point. Abolish the program and make the states take on the responsibility solely on themselves of collecting child support, and watch the divorce rates plummet. Why, because as mentioned by the author of the response, it is the incentives that keep us going to the money trough. Judges will no longer take such an activist role in determining who get little Johnny. Make the presumption in family courts of unilateral no fault divorce “shared parenting”. Except where you have one parent that does not care, then the assumption of custodial and non custodial parenting should come into play.
    LBJ’s “Great Society” hastened in the greatest societal experimental failure of our time “The Projects” In this experiment government competed for the fathers place in the family, using incentives like housing, food stamp, medicaid. Look at them over the past few decades. They are a breeding ground for drugs, crime, and prostitution. I’m not saying that all of these are wrong and should not be a safety net for the few that need them. Quite the contrary. I”m saying that they have been used as in Stalinist Russia where worker in the camps were paid by sending the money that should have gone to the father, but instead sent to the family for their housing, food, etc. If anyone is interested in reading more I would like to suggest the book “Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family By Stephen Baskerville Ph.D.
    Here is another article written by Dr. Baskerville http://www.ipi.org/ipi_issues/detail/welfare-and-the-road-to-serfdom and here’s the document that will point you to the incentives paid out by the federal government for the collection of child support to texas http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Fiscal_SizeUp/Fiscal_SizeUp.pdf#page=8&zoom=auto,-73,790 Go to page 78 under child support. We have got to reform our family courts if we want to lessen the chances of children growing up fatherless and seeing the Dept.of Health and Human Services statistics of children of divorce continue spiraling out of control. I have a very well written paper written by a friend of mine that I would like to send to you if you are interested in reading it on this subject.

    • Thanks for the information. We looked at the Texas budget and saw $55 million of Federal awards to Texas. The $3.2 billion seemed to be child support collections (which in theory go to the custodial parent). Please give us your understanding of these figures. Thanks.

  29. The state pays foster parents for taking care of foster children. The state then requires foster parents to spend specified amounts on foster children for cloths, food, school supplies and they require receipts from the foster parents to prove that they have spent that money appropriately. Why should it be any different for a divorced parent? Simply put the state is more interested in policing how their money is spent and could care less how your money is spent.

  30. I was told by the judge that my job was to make sure I made the child support payment and she culd spend the money any way she wanted to. She spent it on herself and my kids would ask for money for clothes, recreation; even food items. There should be an accounting of where the child support money spent.

  31. In my situation, my son’s mother and I only dated for a couple of months and were never married. But she still determined to eventually get 50% of anything and everything that is mine. Being the male, I am obviously the one paying child support to her. Her co-workers literally went behind her back to contact me after we found out she was pregnant and told me she had been going around telling everyone he “hit the jackpot” and was never gonna have to work again because I was “loaded”. She had to find out the hard way that, that was not the case and she was very wrong. After realizing that, she felt it necessary to punish me for not being some rich guy that she was out looking for.

    Since the birth of my son, less than 2 years ago, she has already bought a Lexus, spent thousands of dollars on cosmetic vanity surgeries, taken expensive vacations with boyfriends and friends and continually pesters me for more and more money. She continues to live paycheck to paycheck because of her own personal spending habits. I have been and am currently paying for over 90% of his daily expenditures and 100% of his insurance, while earning far less money than she does. She told me that if I wanted to start getting my son for overnight visits before he turns 3 years old, she wants 30% of my income. Being in a desperate situation where I wanted nothing more than to see my son, I of course agreed to that.

    I hired an attorney right after our son was born to try and help with all the legal stuff that I didn’t know about, which turned out to be a HUGE MISTAKE! My own attorney tried to put me in a Very bad situation and for a long time I couldn’t figure out why? Several months later, I find out that my attorney and son’s mother have a connection that I knew nothing about. I obviously had to get rid of my attorney and start doing things on my own moving forward. Those attorney fees alone, set me back Thousands of dollars and have not been able to afford another attorney since then.

    She is a middle school teacher, with the summer months off from work, but that doesn’t stop her from putting our son in daycare when she is supposed to have him during that time. (I guess to some people, it’s more important to go out and party with their friends than it is to spend time with their infant child.) I have asked her several times if we can rotate years on claiming our son on our taxes; of course she refuses every time.

    There is Nothing in this world that means more to me than my son. She is also Very aware of this and uses it against me every day. I don’t understand how someone can literally use their own child as a pawn for financial gain. I try to keep my head up, stay positive and tell myself that everything will work out in the end. But it is a very difficult daily struggle. All I want is for things to be equal. 50/50. Nothing more, nothing less. Why is that so hard to accomplish in our country?

    An Anonymous Texas Father

  32. What if support were reversed? Support is a weapon in a tug-of-war between feuding parents. Instead of courts giving a financial reward for taking custody away from the other parent, how about the parent who wants custody has to pay? Suddenly, people have less interest in monopolizing custody if they don’t get a big cash payout for it.

    • I like your idea! I would be glad to pay into an account to show that I can take care of my child! You area smart person Sarah!