I ask this for a couple reasons, but mainly because I don't think some courts take into consideration the cost of living in some areas.
For example, I'll use the city I live in. It is a tourist and retirement town. It's located on the water. No matter where you live, you're less than ten minutes from beach access. This is also where all the jobs are- if you don't want to live in the city, you're looking at a 30-40 minute drive to work everyday, one way. I used to live in a small town outside of where I live, and it wasn't any cheaper just because rent went down. It ends up being about the same amount, without the convenience of being close to grocery stores, shopping malls, the hospital, the beach, etc.
Unless someone is on welfare, they're looking at at least $650 for a ONE bedroom apartment per month, no utilities included. Rent for houses is worse- I looked at them last summer and even the worst looking houses were available for $800 a month, two bedrooms. The average pay for jobs around here is roughly 8.50 an hour. There are not very many high level positions available. Lots of retail, lots of hotels, and doctors/dentist/veterinarian office jobs. Being single and having a place of your own on wages as low as they are is impossible. Most of my single friends (most of whom have college degrees, or certificates in something) have had to have roommates, or even still live with their parents because it is nearly impossible to live on their own, without children. I did it. I had roommates after high school and all throughout college. I lived with my ex-fiance, and we always had a roommate.
A co-worker of mine recently had a child with a woman he is not dating. He had filed for bankruptcy several months ago because the house he bought over ten years ago was foreclosed on after he couldn't make the payments on time for over a year. He was a manager for a hotel in a large chain for a long time, but the company asked him to take a pay cut or step out of the position because they were losing money. Not because of him, but because this area took a huge dive for a while during the early recession years. It's a vacation town, like I said, and makes most of it's money during the tourist season. He's been working front desk at another hotel for three years now, and it wasn't paying the bills- hence, bankruptcy.
So, anyway. Child support was put into effect. He will only have a couple hours with the baby per week, since she is breastfeeding. No over nights. The court set CS at $695 a month. He is already considered in arrearages because the baby is three months old and they just had everything figured out. He wanted to talk to the BM about the amount, because he is struggling to pay his bills and wants to ask if she'll have a different amount ordered. She is 22, lives with her parents, does not attend school, does not work.
His rent is $700 a month- he has a two bedroom apartment just outside of town and only signed the lease because he thought having an extra room for the baby would be a good idea, since he thought he would at least get him overnight once a week, or once every two weeks. He furnished it and everything, and is prepared at least physically for a baby to be there. It seems he is showing real effort in being a dad, and being there for the baby.
He's been stressed as hell at work. FoC is taking CS out of his checks now at work, plus some of the amount of arrearages. When he got his last paycheck (a full week with overtime hours) he didn't have enough to even pay an entire electric bill and get groceries. He usually puts away part of every check for rent at the end of the month, but now he can't do that.
Yes, I know- he's responsible for the choices he made. Yes, he should pay CS. Yes, he should be supporting his child financially. I am not saying he should not- but I think FoC went overboard in the amount. I believe the court should consider the cost of living into the equation.
Sorry for dragging this on- however, I want to bring up the roommate topic again. This co-worker had spoken of getting a roommate for the time being, but does not want to have a roommate once he gets over nights with his son (he DOES want to have them eventually, and I don't think there's any reason he wouldn't get them). I can completely understand, as SO never wanted a roommate, either, because it is too hard to find a roommate you can trust to be around your child for prolonged periods of time, unless they're your parents (and even then....some parents I wouldn't want around). SO went through the same thing, so I know where my co-worker is coming from. I've been trying to help him, but honestly, the only thing that saved my SO from moving 50 miles away back in with his parents was me, moving in and helping with bills. If he had been kicked out of his trailer before I came around (we were notified we had to move out in January this year because the landlord sold the property- he was on a month to month lease at $450 a month) he would have been fucked, no two ways about it.
So I'm NOT asking if you think your ex, or BM pays enough CS, I'm asking if you think the courts are fair in deciding amounts, especially taking into consideration that many places are still strugging fairly hard economically.
In Michigan child support isn't a strict set percentage, it is based on BOTH parents' wages. Since this woman doesn't have a job, my co-worker pays more than he normally would if she was working, even if it was at minimum wage. He also has to pay for her and baby's Medicaid since she has no coverage and is on state assistance.