In the state of Illinois, child support is usually awarded based on a set formula according to a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income. Parents of a single child, for example, usually pay 20 percent of their net income in child support. The court usually adheres firmly to this model except in unusual circumstances, such as joint or shared custody of the child.
And usually, the model does a fairly good job of ensuring that children receive the financial support they require. In some extreme cases, however, the payment model can’t keep up with the financial obligations of noncustodial parents.
Take, for example, a man from Ohio who recently announced that he is the father of 27 children. The man recently appeared on a highly publicized episode of “Divorce Court,” where he stated that he has child support orders for 21 of his children.
The man, a poet and performer by trade, says he is behind on his child support obligations, but he is making payments every week. He also says that he has never tried to escape his financial obligations, but blames his failure to pay in full on the tough economy. He has not disclosed the full amount that he is required to pay, stating that the number was a private matter.
According to U.S. Census Bureau, the average court-ordered child support payment is $445 per month. The average amount actually paid each month is much lower — just $280 per month. Failure to pay can result in a number of penalties, such as wage garnishment, frozen assets, passport denial and a suspended driver’s license. In particularly serious cases, a nonpaying parent can be jailed.
The serious penalties involved with the failure to pay child support make it imperative that the matter of child support payment is dealt with correctly when it is first established during the divorce proceedings. A good child support agreement should be one that is manageable for the noncustodial parent while still serving the best interests of the child.
In the case of the man with 27 children, however, it seems clear that his failure to pay is not serving his children’s best interests. He was recently ordered to pay $1,200 in child support for his youngest child, a baby less than twelve months old.
Norwalk Reflector, “Father of 27 owes child support” Joanne Huist and Amelia Robinson, Sep. 11, 2013