Child Support Enforcement

Just because something is legal, does not mean that it is ethical.  Child support is one of these issues.  It is 100% legal to take away a person’s passport, driver’s license, and throw them in jail for lack of payment.  This does not make it ethical, or even practical for that matter.

Deadbeat is the term used to describe anyone who doesn’t pay their child support, regardless of why it isn’t paid.  They may unemployed, hospitalized, in jail or even a prisoner of war, and are all treated as if they got into the situation they are in just to get out of paying child support.  Another type of deadbeat that exists is a father who had no idea that he even had a child, only to have an ex-girlfriend or even a one night stand come back years later with her hand out for money.  While everyone should take responsibility for their actions, we are creating a double standard because we are not holding the custodial parents responsible for their actions.  Double standards, are by their very nature unethical.

If a woman has a child, and chooses to raise that child herself, she is choosing that responsibility.  She could choose to have an abortion, or put the baby up for adoption, but she instead chooses to have the child.  It is her responsibility to inform the father as soon as she knows about the pregnancy, but he should be given the option, just as she has, to opt in or out of fatherhood.  He cannot demand that she give the baby up, but should have the option of signing his rights away as a father.  If she never informs him that he is the father, then she is assuming full responsibility herself, at least until such a time as she does inform him and gives him notice of her intentions.

In divorce, things get slightly more complicated.  Child support is automatically figured if you are not the custodial parent.  If you don’t pay, you get punished for it.  At first glance, this looks perfectly fair.  However, what’s on the surface does not always reflect what is beneath.  Abusive men file for custody frequently to avoid paying child support themselves.  They usually win, because they have more money and more resources.  Is it ethical for a person who can barely support themselves and who has been abused and lost everything to have to pay child support? 

If there is a need for child support, and if the other parent has the ability to pay, then it is ethical to enforce it.  Beyond that, it is unethical, and as a custodial parent, you need to consider that before insisting that it be enforced.