“The worst part about Deadbeat Dads is the way it publicly humiliates children in single parent families by depicting their fathers as not loving or caring for them. How is a child to feel when he or she sees their dad being vilified on TV because he allegedly doesn’t love or provide for them? How is the child to feel when he or she is reminded of this by friends or teased about it on the schoolyard?”
Once again, more deliberate misinformation from the deadbeat apologists. Invariably, the men who will be portrayed on the Deadbeat Dads show will not have had any meaningful contact with their kids for years, if ever. Men who have not paid child support for a number of years do not have a meaningful relationship with kids. They have abandoned their kids completely. Invariably, the vast majority of these deadbeats will also blame their ex-spouse or partner for their lack of contact with their kids.
Men, in large numbers, have been abandoning their children for centuries. Men typically place the majority of the responsibility for birth control on their partner. Rare is the man who will tell his partner that he is going to wear a condom despite being told by his partner that she is either "safe" or on birth control. Men are risk takers. Invariably though, when the man is "caught" and a pregnancy ensues, especially in a non-committed relationship, the man will claim that the woman lied to him. Within the fathers' rights movement, there are also deadbeat apologists who claim that since a woman can "opt out" of motherhood by obtaining an abortion, the man should also be allowed to "opt out" of fatherhood by simply stating that he does not wish to be financially responsible for the child he helped create. What they fail -- and refuse -- to acknowledge is that they had an opportunity to opt out of fatherhood by wearing a condom, and declined to do so.
I chased deadbeats and made them pay through any and all legal means that were available for more than a decade during the 90’s until 2002. I was aggressive in chasing the deadbeats. In the 90’s, television stations would often follow me to “visit” deadbeat dads. One we caught hiding in a tree in his back yard. Others, we confronted at their places of employment. Many, when seeing the television cameras would slam the door in our faces, usually swearing up a storm. Those who would talk to the reporters, all told the same stories in one form or another:
“I can’t afford to pay the child support.”
“She divorced me against my wishes.”
“Her new husband makes more money than I do.”
“I have a new family to support.”
“She doesn’t spend the money on the kids.”
“She doesn’t let me see the kids.”
“She wanted to keep the kids. They are her responsibility now.”
“She has a good job and makes good money.”
“Her parents are rich. The kids don’t need anything.”
“The judge was crooked and against me.”
“My lawyer was working against me.”
“I pay her cash every month, but I can’t prove it now.”
“Child support is unconstitutional.”
The excuses and rationalizations go on forever. None of the deadbeats were ever able to answer one simple question: “If you can’t pay the entire amount that is owed, why haven’t you been paying something at least?”
All private agencies require that the child support is a minimum of $5,000 in arrears before they will take the case. Using simple math, that amount would mean that a deadbeat had not made child support payments in the amount of $400 per month for one year. Most private agencies report the average arrearage placed with them is in the neighborhood of $25,000. That would represent, on average, a minimum of 3 years of non-payment, assuming the child-support order required a monthly payment of $694. Those types of child support obligations are exceptionally rare.
The show Deadbeat Dads will be chasing after deadbeats who have substantial arrearages -- most likely in excess of $30,000 -- and who have the means to pay the child support. They are not going to be chasing after some poor schmuck earning minimum wage. They will be going after the deadbeats who have assets and the ability to pay child support. They will be going after the deadbeats who thought that they could beat the system and avoid paying. Somehow, the deadbeat apologists will try to make excuses for these deadbeats.
There are a lot of "sad" stories about child support that can’t be paid. One of the more common stories is that the obligor (person who should be paying child support) is earning less money than what the court says he is making.
One such story involves a man who owes more than $50,000 for a support order that was set seven years ago. The court set his child support based on what his earnings were prior to his divorce rather than his earnings at the time of his divorce. How this happened is very simple.
After the divorce was filed, the man quit his job and moved to a different state. In the new state, he lived with his parents and started a business. As a result, his new earnings were substantially less than they had been prior to the divorce having been filed. He argues that the child support should have been set at the new earnings rather than his old earnings. Of course, in all probability, had the divorce not been filed, he would still be working at his pre-divorce job. The judge looks at this situation and decides that the man was trying to avoid paying child support before the court order was even issued. Child support is based on the pre-divorce earnings, which is appropriate under the law in this type of situation.
Contrary to what the deadbeat apologists argue, the child support system is fundamentally fair. It is not perfect, but it operates within a framework of laws that have been carefully crafted to ensure that children receive the financial support that they are entitled to.
The television show Deadbeat Dads is offensive to the deadbeat apologists for the simple fact that it shows reality. That reality is that a significant portion of men do not want to accept responsibility for their children in one form or another. Recognizing this fact raises questions that the apologists do not want to have to answer, and it pertains to their goal of having shared parenting laws passed throughout the country.
Under the shared parenting laws being proposed, there would be an automatic presumption that both parents are fit, and custody should be divided between the two parents equally. Reasons that the presumption of shared parenting could be challenged would be limited.
Demographically, the active proponents for shared parenting, with few exceptions, are divorced, middle class white males who claim that they have been “relegated” to being visitors in their kids lives and have no opportunity to engage in the decision-making process for their children’s welfare. Demographics aside, these are also men who are typically unable to communicate with their former spouses or partners in a meaningful manner, or to work together. Invariably, they will all blame their former spouses or partners for the problems. They will typically blame the divorce on their former spouses, accepting no responsibility. Most will claim that they never saw the divorce coming. Most will also argue that the “no fault” divorce laws are at fault. Some will claim that their former spouses or partners deny them visitation or access to their children. Some also are delinquent in their child support -- through no fault of their own of course. Some have been to jail for child support, domestic violence (which they deny engaging in) or for violating restraining orders (which they claim were unlawfully obtained or are based entirely on lies.)