Recommendations from an advisory committee of 14 provided input on changes in child support guidelines that will effect thousands of Kansas residents.
The changes, as implemented by the Kansas Supreme Court, took effect January 1 and, in some cases, may result in an across the board increase of more than three percent.
We believe all parents should support their children.
But that’s what we see lacking in the more than 100 page legal document that details child support guidelines.
Children’s faces. Parents’ stories.
Yes, we understand the guidelines are a legal document designed to equitably determine support; it’s not really a place for individuality.
But who are the guidelines really designed to assist – children, and the parents who love, and raise, them – or an overburdened legal system that has to mete out quick decisions?
Parents are individuals of different social, economic, religious, marital and ethnic backgrounds.
Supporting children, raising children, is much more than a dry, one-size-fits-all legal document.
For years we’ve seen parents struggle under the current system; we’ve heard the rhetoric of “step up to the plate” intoned like a mantra to young adults not even old enough to sign a legal document or drive a car.
We’ve seen parents – father’ and mother’s – swindled by a culture that promotes the myth of the “poor single (insert mother or father here)” as a lifestyle.
We’ve seen parents who can’t work because their driver’s license is suspended, parents criminalized with warrants arrested in front of their children and then jailed for indetermine lengths of time.
And while we understand the frustration of dealing with a “deadbeat” – we wonder if this jail time punishment doesn’t also hurt the very people the guidelines are designed to protect – the children who are deprived of time with their parent and grow up in a society that equates parenthood with money?
Not to mention the drain on society’s resources.
So we’re a bit disappointed with the new guidelines, and the bureaucratic system that put them in place; yet, we admit it’s difficult to suggest a one-size-fits-all change.
We appreciate the 14 who served on this advisory committee, but it was top-heavy with lawyers and judges. Only four parents are listed. Their professions are not listed, nor how they were selected, although we know in mid 2013 notices to media were made for parents to apply.
That’s a good step; however, we would be curious how a cross section of parents — many of whom can’t afford lawyers to represent them – would respond to the current guidelines?
It doesn’t seem unreasonable that input could be solicited through courts, online, or by the Kansas Payment Center, which collects child support statewide.
The state has four years before new guidelines will be issued. That time could be spent soliciting input from a diverse group of parents; many of whom are financially, socially or educationally locked out of the system.
It’s important the courts – and society – not lose sight of who child support is supposed to benefit.
Not the system.
Not the parents.
The children.
And their needs can’t be distilled to a 100 page, dry legal document.