Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is Paying Child Support a Privilege or Punishment?


For most of my life, I have heard the term child support. To me, when I heard it, there always seemed to be a consistent theme. Whether it was during my childhood in Jamaica, growing up in Houston, Texas or living as an adult in Miami, Florida, the term child support was always used in a negative sense. How often have we seen headlines of a deadbeat dad who’s been jailed for not paying child support? In mid-2010 I saw the news headline, “World’s Worst Deadbeat Dad Jailed for Owing over $200,000 in Back Child Support.” There always seemed to be a negative connotation with that term.

When I first got married in the mid 90’s, to me, just like my parents (who’ve been happily married for over 45 years) we would be married “till death do us part.” Unfortunately, that marriage didn’t make it to 6 years. We had a child, though – a lovely daughter. So when the dust settled, there I was sitting in court signing documents to pay child support.
And the demeanor of the judge just caused me to think that in her mind, I was being punished just like any deadbeat dad who so frequently walks into the courtroom. It didn’t matter that I was highly involved in my daughter’s life from the moment she was conceived – going to every doctor’s appointment, being in the delivery room, taking her to daycare, taking her to the park and so on. I was now divorced and I didn’t get custody so paying child support was my reality.
Upon further inquiry, I found out that the judge in my case became involved with family law because her previous job was going after dads who refused to pay child support. In hindsight, it didn’t surprise me that she seemed so hostile. Because not knowing any different, she likely perceived me as any other dad that she deals with on a daily basis. My mom always says, “The good have to suffer with the bad.”
In my post, What Exactly is Child Support?, I share my views on the topic. It is not a negative concept by any means. It’s literally supporting your child. The inherent flaw in that term, in my opinion, is that people are led to believe that child support is all about money. Certainly money is a part of the equation but in the big picture, it’s relatively minor. I could have committed to a life of making timely child support payments and never seeing my child and the court would have been happy with me – because I’d be a good dad.
But I go beyond that to ask the questions: Will I be there to mentor my child? Will I be there for her emotionally? Will I teach her the life lessons that have guided me? Will I help her with homework or go to PTA meetings? Will I be there as she begins dating to help her know the qualities she should look for in a man?
If I am absent from her life yet I make timely child support payments, to me, I am the ultimate deadbeat dad. Money can never buy the love and affection of our kids. Our kids are not problems that we just throw money at and they get solved.
To me, child support is the ultimate privilege. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been supporting my daughter from the moment she was conceived. Money has been a necessary component but quite frankly, she has no idea about what money has been spent on her – during the former marriage and since that marriage. She only knows that she loves her dad and mom and they love her. And they both have been highly involved and active in her life since birth. To me, that is indeed the ultimate privilege.
Too often we read about dads that have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into court to pay child support. Too often, kids get the short end of the stick because men, in particular, refuse to support them financially or emotionally. Writing a check or getting a payroll deduction is simply the financial consideration. But there’s so much more to it.
I’m quite concerned that some dads pay child support only to avoid going to jail. How sad and unfortunate. I cannot comprehend that mentality. I know times are hard so making timely child support payments may not always be feasible. But to neglect our children emotionally is totally inexcusable, in my view. When I wrote post When Good Fathers Go Bad, a female reader made the following comment:
“Regardless of your relationship with an ex, children are the innocent victims. They need a mother and a father equally. There is no excuse to emotionally or financially abandon your child. The pain a child feels from the rejection of a family member is often carried with them for the rest of their lives.”
I could not have said it any better.
One other quick point I want to make about the topic of child support is that when our exes are mean-spirited and hard to deal with, I know it’s not always easy to write that check and send it to them. They could even deny us access to the children but as I always say, children are innocent in all of this. So we really should not withhold from them what is due to them – not money or anything.
I know men personally who struggle every time they write that check because they see it as them writing a check to their ex and in their view, she doesn’t deserve it. So let me share these words of encouragement – our children are our children. They have always been and will always be our children. Their mothers might put us through the wringer, as the expression goes, but our children are ours. Let’s support and take care of them – financially, emotionally and in every other possible way.
So as I close this post let me reiterate the answer to the question “Is paying child support a privilege or punishment?” It is the privilege of a lifetime! Today, my daughter is a well-adjusted 12 year old. She lives with my wonderful new wife and me. We now have a 5 month old son. And guess what? I pay my child support 24/7/365. My kids are my world and I enjoy every moment of being with them.

I often say that I do support fathers’ rights. But prefer to think of fatherhood as a privilege. What an awesome responsibility it is! I hope that each of us – dads and moms alike – embraces the concept of 24/7/365 child support because it leads to successful, well-adjusted kids of whom we can all be proud.
Enjoy a wonderful and productive day.
The Upbeat Dad



21 comments:

  1. Thanks for quoting me! Your an excellent writer and I appreciate your posts very much. I find you inspiring!
    ~Jennifer Young
    www.mostwanteddeadbeats.com

    “Regardless of your relationship with an ex, children are the innocent victims. They need a mother and a father equally. There is no excuse to emotionally or financially abandon your child. The pain a child feels from the rejection of a family member is often carried with them for the rest of their lives.”

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  2. How refreshing and what a wonderful way to put it. So often, I get the negative father's who resent paying the child support and supporting the child as well on my huffington post articles! Love your site and glad I found it!

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    1. What losers ! Of coarse the women would say that. Moms are getting well overpaid while fathers can barely make it and are still expected to do most of everything ...... This is definetly a WOMENS PAGE ....

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  3. This topic was well put together and so true

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  4. I love spending money on my son, and yes that is a good thing. But the child support in the case of fathers that didn't want to have a baby? Or are not allowed to see that child because the mother has lied to the court? Or what about the man who was ordered to pay over $400,000 a year to "support" his two children, even though he played an active part in their life? Paying your childs way through life is excellent and we should all be allowed to do that - however I think your article was printed on "rose-scented" paper and is a little off topic. Supporting your child financially is an obligation. Supporting an ex wife that spends all that money is a punishment which is what that money usually goes towards.

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  5. Harlz, you are right on this point...Supporting your child financially is an obligation...that a parent should feel good about. It is about your child/children...not about you or your ex.

    A judge would never order a man or woman to pay child support in excess of what their financial situation dictates they can handle. So let us not focus on the amount, but on why it needs to be contributed.

    Yes, your ex will spend the money, but who else should, when your child is being taken care of by your ex. Remember this is about your child/children. Your ex just happens to be the adult who will need to spend the cash to make sure that they are taken care of.

    Unfortunately, the parent paying the child support may not get enough chance to be with their child, but their own choices or circumstances may be the reason they cannot be present. Oh sure, some fathers get a raw deal...not getting the chance to see their kids much due to a number of unscrupulous reasons.

    Even so, it is still not about you or your ex...it is about your child/children. Do you love them unconditionally?

    If a man really didn't want children, how did he become a dad? Frankly, a man couldn't have made a child if he didn't participate. So for those who feel fatherhood happened against their will...cheer up, it wouldn't have happen if you were not present.

    Consider child support a blessing, as it implies that you were blessed with the gift of fatherhood...many men would like to be where you stand but cannot because someone else got to be the dad, or worse something else interrupted the process.

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    1. @ annonymous that bullshit! Judges everyday make good fathers pay WAY MORE then they should and can afford. Me bong one of them. U have no idea what u are talking about. The CHILDSUPPORT system is corrupt as hell just like every other branch of government.

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    2. I have 2 kids with my ex. 1 Lives with me. The other on paper. Lives with me half the time. Although I have him much more. As she gives him away when it's her time. Our incomes are equal. Yet I'm still forced to pay support for 1 child. I'm left with 30 dollars a week to buy food 3 of us. She smokes 2 packs a day and lives rent free. Judges are not fair.

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    3. @ A judge would never order a man or woman to pay child support in excess of what their financial situation dictates they can handle. So let us not focus on the amount, but on why it needs to be contributed.

      That's garbage and a statement from someone who knows nothing about the plight of others who are court ordered to pay an exorbitant amount of child support every month becuase the "mother" can legally hide her income.

      Case in point. I pay $550 a month for my one child. The mother is an RN who has chosen to work 1 day a week for the past 4 years. The rest of her income is "Gifted" from her fathers real estate company. For those who dont know, "gifted money" is not considered income by the courts and is not included in calculating child support payments. The child support agency looks at the $ amouunt earned of both parents + expenses (Ins, Education ie...) and sticks it into a calculation.

      My current wife's ex-husband however only pays $200 per month total for his two kids because she takes the moral high gound and works 40hrs/week to support and take care of the kids and reports what she truthfully earns. So while my wife and I scrape by paycheck to paycheck every month beacuse we chose to be honest, chosing what groceries we could go without, my ex lives in the lap of luxury with her "Gifted" income + my hard earned money for expenses like...personal trainers, yearly cruises, brand new 5 bedroom home (we live in a 3 bedroom rental).

      I think the the child support system is a broken system with out of date guidlines that the government needs to step up and fix. They need see and close the loopholes that allow both moms and dads to cheat the system.

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  6. Being with your child is a privilage... If both parents are good to their kids.. Why not give the kids the benefit to have equal time with both parents? The Law should respect that. Why does money become such a factor??? I know there is soo many different circumstances but if everyone is created equal and everyone wants to become equal then own up to that.

    The term deadbeat dad is getting old.... Things should be equal but its obvious that its not happening anytime soon.

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  7. My husband's ex is all about the money. Every cent of alimony and child support was seen as 'due to her because he left them'. My husband tried so hard to stay a part of their lives. This was relatively successful at first until he was ready to move on. When his daughter was crying at his leaving on Sunday night (after he dropped her off) - his ex said all I want from you is money. Don't see the girls again till they are 18. She asked him to sign away his parental responsibility and agree only to pay her money and he could see the girls again when they were 18 (they were 5&7 at the time).

    He didn't agree but he has struggled to maintain a relationship with them.

    Now his relationship with them is all about money. The second they are home at their mothers from University - the phone calls asking for money begin...

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    1. Sharon, this sounds so familiar. It's sad, but so true. My husband and I are living your story. Why are some women so evil and bitter? For some, it's all about the money.

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    2. Sharon, this sounds very familiar. Why are there no court routes to help the father in this situation? Why does the court seem to be so against considering the truth of the situation?

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  8. I have been summoned to a court date establishing child support in a week. I have problems with my legs and have just gotten out of homelessness due to the fact..

    My son is in a financially stable home and I talk to him every chance I get.

    Will the judge care? I don't think so. If I don't find a way to make money appear magically out of thin air soon I will be in jail with my hurting legs waiting for the obligation to end.. it does say in the child support guidelines that a "deadbeat" can be held in prison for an "indefinite period of time"... yup, way to go America.

    Get those deadbeats!

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  9. The first two weeks i worked a total of 100 hours, 20 hours over time. I did the calculations, my 1st paycheck after taxes should have been 1025.00. I had worked like a dog, slept on a bench, caught the bus, worked 20 hours overtime, was behind on my rent, and Lord knows i needed this money. Payday reminded me of Mother's Day. Everyone was jubilant, already thinking about what they were going to do with their money just like i was. I opened the envelope and got the shock of my life. I was shocked and dismayed when the numbers read $433.52. I was hoping my eyes were deceiving me, but they werent. The state took over 50 percent of my income for chid support. They didn't care that my car was recently stolen, that i worked those long hours or that i was behind on my rent: they didn't give a damn! It was almost not even worth going to work. They took close to $600.00 from my check, and my son still walked around looking like he was an orphan. I still had to somehow find a way to buy him a pair of pants, shoes, shirts and something to make him look presentable while he was out in public. "pages 241 & 242 of my book "Father's Dey" for more visit www.FathersDey.com

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  10. That is what alot of Good dads are going thru... And its time to put ur foot down ! Sincerely , Good Dad Driven to Abandon Son ...... Had ENOUGH ! You will never beat them . So be cruel and unthoughtful and join them

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  11. I appreciate your article, and you are exactly right. Money is only part of the factor, but what about the father who makes timely payments and has tried to be a part of his child's life, but the child's mother has taken that away. I think people too often forget, probably because it is rare, when you have a good man doing the right thing and trying to bond with his child, then there's the bitter mother who ONLY wants the child to have the financial part. That's so sad, but I'm living that nightmare now. My child is 17 years old, and I have always paid support but the one thing that I have been trying to do her entire life is build a relationship only to be shut out.

    GC

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  12. very well put. Not all Dads are as awesome as you are..... they should be but they're not.

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  13. Any thoughts on dads who have a 50/50 custodyarrangement and pay a large amount of support despite the fact that the mother makes a very decent living? Why does the father need to pay in such a case?

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  14. It would be nice to have a person like you as a judge in family court. Somebody who grasps the reality that quality time with both parents is the most important support a parent can give to a child. If a both parents really want to be with a child, I think it should be about splitting time equally, with money coming second, because a child is going to gain so much more from both of those relationships versus any material object.

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  15. My ex wife and I mutually agreed to divorce, and when we did I came right out and told her I didn't think I should pay it. I'm more than happy to provide anything my kids need, and will pay whatever it costs. Why should I be financially punished simply because we're not married? Half my income or better taken right off the top just because we're not together? Don't think so, I'll put a pistol in my mouth before I willfully f%ck myself

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