Child Support

The child support system in America is broken.  There is no doubt about that.  The fact that it is broken is often sugarcoated by saying that “it’s for the children.”  However, a system that pits their parents against one another in what amounts to a money grab cannot really be good for the children, no matter what the courts say.  Children really do need their parents more than they need money.  There are some things that could be done to fix the child support system, but they would involve changing the laws completely, and cutting back on child support enforcement.

One of the biggest problems with the child support system is that no matter what the financial situation is of the non-custodial parent, they still have to pay child support.  In theory, this sounds good to many people.  However, when put into practice, there are many holes in the way things work out.  The non-custodial parent has not always made the choice not to have custody of thei children voluntarily, for one.  Often, abusive partners will get custody of their children, and use child support enforcement as a legal means of continuing the abuse, even though their exes may not be able even to support themselves.  Child support gives the abusers a double incentive to get custody of the children, because they get out of paying child support and get to collect it from their ex, who may be barely able to support herself.  In these cases, a return to alimony may be the best option.  If the person who makes the least money gets alimony, regardless of who the children go to, this may deter abusive men from filing for custody, because they would have to pay their ex-wives no matter what.

Another of the problems with child support is the draconian means that are used for enforcement.  Not only do the means used for collecting child support violate due process, they are counterproductive.  If a person loses their job or takes a pay cut, child support enforcement assumes that it is voluntary.  While there are a few true “deadbeats” that quit their jobs to get out of paying child support, those are the exception, not the rule.  Child support enforcement agencies then proceed to take away these people’s means of making a living, one piece at a time.  They start with reporting them to the credit bureaus.  This first step is fair, because all debt gets reported to credit bureaus.  However, unlike other debt that is removed after 7 years, this is on the credit report permanently.  Passports are then taken away, preventing them from leaving the country, or in some cases, getting back in.  This is a problem for anyone that needs to travel for their jobs.  Driver’s licenses are the next thing to be taken from them, preventing them from getting to job interviews, or a job.  They are stripped of professional licenses, and finally thrown in jail, convicted of a felony.  

None of the measures taken help child support to get paid.  In fact, they may render a supposedly “deadbeat” parent, completely unemployable, making it impossible to ever get child support out of them.  Their relationships with their children are often ruined as a result of this, because they are so beaten down by the system, and by their exes.  Yet, the courts stand by their decisions, because this is what’s considered to be “in the best interest of the children.”  How can any system that robs children of the parents that love them really be in their best interest?