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Home > Child Support > Article

The Alimony Hidden in Child Support

page four

by Roger F. Gay

Alimony in the Balance:
Custodial parents with low income have an additional need to maintain a household for children and for self-support. This is an example of when an award of spousal maintenance may be appropriate. It is a reasonable interpretation of government intent to believe that the government does not wish to support mothers or children when the father is capable of doing so. Given a mathematical definition of the boundary between child support and alimony, it was possible for the PICSLT work to go one step further.

Given a target standard of living for children, it is possible to calculate the right balance between child support and spousal maintenance to provide an additional increase in the standard of living of the custodial household. The new PICSLT model includes the equations for calculating both in the proper proportion to each other. The most general difference that would result from application of the PICSLT model can be stated as follows. The hidden margin of alimony in current child support awards has been identified, and proportionate amounts of child support and spousal maintenance can be awarded separately when appropriate. When spousal maintenance is not appropriate in a particular case, it need not be awarded as a hidden part of the child support award.

This article was first published in The Children's Advocate, Newsletter of the New Jersey Council for Children's Rights, January, 1995
The Children's Rights Council

An update:
Since the new mathematics of child support was developed in 1994, attention has been focused on the application of this technology in law. The exercises in precise logic and mathematics have led to the conclusion that the 200 year history of child support law in the United States led to the only possible solution to the child support problem. Logically speaking, we can state directly the three fundamental laws of child support.

  1. Child support is for the care and maintenance of children.
  2. Both parents have an equal duty to support their children.
  3. All relevant circumstantial information may effect the amount of the award.

Every state should have these principles clearly included in their child support statute for application in every child support case. A model statute, which includes application of a child support guideline, is provided in The Child Support Guideline Problem. Additional support for the model is described in relation to two state Supreme Court cases in the first paper listed below.

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Copyright © 1995, 1999 Roger F. Gay
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the on-line magazine for men with families.

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