As the child support laws currently stand, they do more to punish non-custodial parents than they do to get child support paid as it should be. While punitive measures against a non-custodial parent may give the custodial parent temporary vindication, it does not necessarily help them to raise the children properly. Non-custodial parents who do not pay their child support are considered to be “deadbeats” even if they are simply dead broke. There are ways to fix the system, however, but they would require a complete revamping of the entire system, something that government, not to mention those employed by the child support enforcement offices are loathe to do.
The first thing that has to happen is that people who owe child support need to be given due process. As it stands, they can be stripped of their driver’s licenses without even being invited into a courtroom to defend themselves. The same thing happens with passports, and even professional licenses. They do usually get a summons into court before being arrested. However, that is the only thing close to due process that they get. If they can pay some child support upon going into court, they are let off the hook until the next court date, otherwise, they go to jail, often until someone pays their child support for them. Since they cannot work from jail, and their child support debt continues to mount, this really doesn’t help anyone.
The second thing that needs to happen is that these so-called deadbeat parents need an opportunity to pay. Create training programs for those child support debtors who have few or no job skills but want to take care of their children. Make sure that they can get jobs that will take care of themselves as well as their children. Make it attractive for companies to hire child support debtors with tax credits, and other incentives. They do this for people on welfare, why not for people who owe child support, because it still may be keeping someone off the welfare rolls.
If these two things could happen, it would make the child support laws much more fair. If someone is unwilling to participate in the program, that’s when you can throw the book at them, and take away their licenses, passports, and throw them in jail, but if they participate peacefully in the program, and look for work diligently, there is no reason to treat them like they are criminals or second class citizens, and certainly no reason to threaten them with jail. Many of the people that do not faithfully pay their child support fall behind because of the loss of a job, or in the cases of stay at home mothers who lose their children, have no job skills to fall back on. Give people a way to pay, and those that truly love their children, will pay.