When Forcing a Father to Pay Child Support is Unethical

My personal experience with child support is as follows:

– My mother and father divorced when I was 5. My mother pursued child support from my father.

– When my father would pick my brother and I up for visitations, he would
incessantly complain about how child support was “draining him dry.”

– My mother on the other hand, incessantly complained about how my father didn’t pay enough child support.

– When I was 11, my father advised me that he adopted me. He claimed that he only adopted me in an attempt to win my mother’s affection back after a break-up. However, he alleges that my mother manipulated him into adopting me just to “screw” him for support. In other words, he sent the message that he couldn’t care less about me.

– When I was 19, my mother insisted that I appear in court to tell the judge that I was living with her and enrolled in school so that she could continue to collect child support. (I had actually moved out of my mother’s house several years earlier and no longer enrolled in school)

– Later the same year, I asked my mother for $100 from the child support that she continued to collect and she went ballistic, threatening to kill herself because she had no money.

My personal experience with child support issues has left a huge impact on how I handle the issue in regard to my own children.

In a perfect world, the perfect man meets the perfect woman and together they decide to have perfect children. In a perfect world, children are raised by two parents, a mother and a father. In a perfect world, there are no conflicts in the arena of parenting. In a perfect world, a man and a woman who choose to participate in intercourse together agree upon whether or not to procreate. But…. Reality check…. We do not live in a perfect world! The bottom line is that each potential parent should approach the concept of parenting alone. As I write this, I can almost hear the gasps, jaws dropping, and the numerous “hell no!” exclamations that are predictably surefire responses to reading the previous sentence. However, collection of child support becomes unethical when the child’s safety and emotional well-being are threatened as a result. Ultimately, the children’s best interests should always remain the highest of importance. This goes beyond just the best interest in terms of financial support. Often times a bitter, hateful court battle will wreak havoc on a child’s emotional well being. Therefore, while the custodial parent has won the court battle for child support, there is a child who has either
directly or indirectly possibly been a victim of emotional trauma as a result. There is no amount of money that can undo that!

Does that mean just let the non-custodial parent run off scot-free? Not necessarily. It all depends on that person’s true interest in the child. True interest can not be easily detected when there is a court-ordered, aggressive, child-support pursuit taking place. (Keeping in mind that once again, only in a “perfect world” true interest is always apparent, because everyone gets along!) However as an example, my 12-year-old daughter has not seen her father in over 6 years. Despite financial struggles I have encountered I don’t pursue child support. However, as a result of becoming entangled in the welfare system during my first two years as a mother, the prosecutor’s office for the county in which I previously lived takes it upon themselves to periodically pursue support payments, with aggression. Once a year, I receive a fairly hefty child support payment when his IRS refund is withheld. Accompanying that is normally a telephone call from him demanding to exercise his visitation rights. Following that, I sit down with my daughter and explain that her father would like to visit with her, she becomes emotional, and I assure her that everything will be ok. I arrange a day with him for visitation, and he never calls or never shows. I assume that the anger of not receiving his tax check has passed and he has moved on to other things that he considers of more importance. This predictable cycle has happened every year for the last few years and also occurs whenever he obtains new employment and a wage
withholding is initiated, once again not by myself, but by the prosecutor’s office. There was never any physical abuse, or definable reason to withhold contact between my daughter and her father. However, so many years have passed since he has made any substantial effort to connect with her, that his emergence from the past frightens her and spark anxiety. If they are to have a healthy relationship, I want it to be because he wants to be a father to her, not because he is forced to be a father. Therefore, I recently submitted a plea to the prosecutor to cease
collection efforts. Additionally, we had the visitation order modified to reflect supervised visits until and unless he can develop a meaningful relationship with his child. That way, we are all in agreement at this point as to what is in the best interest of my child. In the meantime, I will raise the
child that I made the conscious decision to have. Should he surface and should they develop a healthy relationship, then pursuit of his child-support obligation will be discussed and considered. As far as I’m concerned, he’s not getting off scot-free, he’s potentially losing the one thing that money can’t buy, a relationship with his child. In turn, I’m gaining the peace of mind that my daughter is not constantly living in fear. If someone can venture throughout life without such a loss weighing heavily on their conscious, then so be it for them. However, as parents it is our responsibility to raise our
children to understand the concept of UNCONDITIONAL love.

Therefore, before pursuing child support, ask yourself the following questions:

Difficult or not, am I making ends meet without it?
Will the child support order invoke a response from the non-custodial parent that will
have a negative impact on my child’s well being?
Am I requesting child support because it’s needed, or because I’m going to “show
(him/her) who’s boss?”

Once those questions are answered and a decision has been made in regard to child support, there is also the issue of “how much?” Why is it that one child is entitled to $300 per week (or more!), but the next is only entitled to $50 per week? Can we really put a price on our children? And what idea does that plant in their minds? That they are “worth” more than their best friend because “daddy” (or mommy) makes more money? I really feel that there should be a standard set for child support payments. Honestly, it doesn’t take $300 per week to provide the basic necessities to raise a child, food, shelter, education, etc. There needs to be some type of standard form that lists all of the basics that it takes to keep a child alive and well, and then the cost should be split down the middle. Sure, additional considerations could be made with this concept. For instance, if both parents agree
that the child should participate in extracurricular activities, (i.e. music, sports, etc) then a judge might require a binding agreement that an additional amount should be paid to accommodate these activities. The same should go for private school education. If these activities are activities in which both parents should be responsible for paying, then both parents should be in agreement that these activities are beneficial to the child. I don’t believe the current child support system should be removed, but I think that improvements could be made that would make it easier for separated parents to effectively raise their children!