Child Support Enforcement

In a traditional child support agreement, the non-custodial parent, usually, but not always the father is subject to paying a given amount to the custodial parent for the care of the children.  In theory, this sounds good and fair.  In practice, however, it tends to become corrupted to the point that manyof the enforcement measures actually sabotage the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay rather than promoting payment. These draconian methods of enforcing payment practically force non-custodial parents to work “under the table,” as their ability to get a legitimate job is sabotaged, by removing driver’s and professional licenses, passports (yes, some jobs are dependent upon having a passport), and throwing them in jail while calling it a felony for being unemployed.  Their only real crime happens to be that they dared to have children with an ex spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend.

These measures by saying “it’s for the children.” Now, honestly, think about this. What good does it do for a child to take away their parents means to make a living, then throw them in jail for it? There are measures in place that are understandable.  These measures include the garnishment of wages where wages are available for garnishment.  They include reporting to the credit bureaus as any debt is reported.  Where the problems with child support enforcement come in are when they start to remove a person’s inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and enforce tyranny in the name of the children.

In the case of a person who wants to pay but is unable to locate suitable employment, perhaps there should be tax incentives in place for those employers who hire these so called “deadbeat” parents, similar to the welfare to work tax credits.  This would be much more efficient and better for the children than punishment and turning parents into criminals for being unable to find work.

If there is a person that is unable to work because of a disability,  there should be alternate methods of allowing them to help their children. Although there is a tendency in today’s society to boil the responsibility for children down to only the financial, there’s a lot more to it than that.  Parents who are unable to work shouldn’t be punished for that. Perhaps they can make up what they can’t provide financially with time spent doing things for the children from volunteering at their schools and extra-curricular activities, to being the child’s daycare provider so the custodial parent doesn’t have to pay for daycare.

Some parents withhold child support because they are prevented from seeing their children.  Although this is the wrong approach, they feel alienated from their children, and this needs to be addressed by the family courts.  Sometimes it is active prevention by keeping the children away when the non-custodial parent comes to pick up the children.  Sometimes the custodial parent harasses the non-custodial parent to the point where they don’t feel safe and can’t deal with the stress of coming to get the children.  Either way, the non-custodial parent would feel less inclined to hold back child support if the family courts would address this issue.  Unfortunately, they often don’t.  All a custodial parent has to say is “I didn’t do that,” and that’s pretty much the end of it.  The non-custodial parent needs to feel that justice is being served.  This situation has been compared by some people to paying for a car that you’re not allowed to drive. Although comparing your children to a car may be a bit extreme, it’s still frustrating to have only the financial responsibilities of being a parent, and none of the privileges.

There are also parents who have neither the skills nor the training to make a decent wage. These parents should not even have to pay child support in the first place. This puts them and keeps them in a constant state of poverty, which goes against the very principles our country was founded on. Often in these cases, enforcing child support turns out to just be a vindictive measure on the custodial parents side, especially if they already have plenty of money to get by on.  This category of parents may have been a stay at home parent during the course of the marriage, or may even have other reasons for their lack of training.  Some men may have been so busy working jobs that barely got them by that they never had time for training or moving up the ladder.  Either way, these parents are not able to support their children.  It’s nice to talk about how they never should have had children in the first place, but that’s just not realistic.

Now there is the last category of deadbeats. These are the true deadbeats, that want nothing to do with their children, and really don’t care about their children. This last category is unfortunate, but jail time still may be a little harsh.  In these cases, the best thing may be for them to be able to sign away their parental rights. This may not seem fair to the custodial parents, but it’s actually more fair to the children, because they should not have someone being forced to care for them that doesn’t care about them.  This frees the children to be adopted by a new spouse of the custodial parent that actually does love and care for them, because the bond of love is stronger than any biological bond.  Before taking this last measure, however, great care must be taken to make sure that the lack of involvement is due to the non-custodial parents lack of caring, rather than a custodial parents manipulations to keep the other parent out of the children’s lives.

What it boils down to is that being a parent is not only a responsibility, but also a privilege.  When attempting to enforce the responsibility of being a parent, it is counterproductive to take away the privileges.