Since I have been politically active, some 7 years now, I have fought hardest to protect or increase the rights of those who face the worst discrimination in our society. I routinely fight for gay rights, attempted to start a gay rights organization in Pinellas County, Florida (it didn’t become viable right away, but it has since). I support PFLAG, and joined organizations that promote the rights of Gay employees at my last firm. I support women’s rights, I’ve been a member of NOW, and a vigorous proponent of the ERA and equal pay for equal work. I fight for equal rights for African Americans. I most recently marched with Al Sharpton and countless others to protest the shooting of unarmed Sean Bell and his companions. I’ve lambasted Ann Coulter and others for their treatment of Muslims in this country.
These groups experience real, persistent and disgusting discrimination. But none of these groups experience discrimination that is anywhere in the same league as the treatment of Non custodial parents. Non custodial parents are the approved 21st century whipping boys (and girls). Non Custodial Parents are the only group where there is next to zero support from those not in our situation. There are plenty of men who fight for women’s rights, plenty of non-blacks and straights who fight for African American and Gay rights. Who stands with Non Custodial Parents?
Our children are torn from us, and more often than not the custodial parent seeks to emotionally isolate and alienate the non custodial parent from the child/children. Two of the three branches of state and federal governments, who should be fighting to protect the rights of all of their citizens, are positioned against us, the legislature and the judiciary. Instead of support or empathy, the only time one of our group is noticed is if they are late in paying or haven’t paid child support, or if they lose it and say or do something they shouldn’t. For the record, I do not know anyone who is in the process of becoming or who is a non custodial parent who hasn’t lost it at some point and I don’t want to meet anyone who hasn’t. If you love and care about your children, I don’t see how you could stay completely sane during this systematic bullying by the system. I don’t see David Hasselhoff and Alec Baldwin the same as the rest of the country and world see them. I’ve been there. My daughter and I were exceptionally close until my ex wife decided to punish me for divorcing her by taking custody away from me. I lost it completely and became incredibly depressed for nearly two years. If you love your child and someone takes them away from you, I guarantee you that at least part of your sanity will not be far behind.
Child Support and every other weekend visits (or less) make the Iraq war look like brilliant policy. There is a simple alternative that is psychologically and emotionally much better for the children, is more fair, and doesn’t encourage one of the parents to use the children as a weapon against the other parent. Its called “Fully Equal and Shared Custody”. One parent has the children for X amount of time, the other has the children next for the same amount of time. They have the children equal amounts of time, thus they each pay for the children’s expenses when the child lives with them, making the arbitrary and capricious amounts set for Child Support unnecessary, inappropriate and irrelevant. The question is, does anyone care?
Does the Progressive community care? One of the things I believe in as a Progressive is a Living Wage. I would ask the rest of my fellow Progressive whether it makes sense to arbitrarily take 25% or more from someone’s income when they are not even making a living wage to begin with. When custody of my child was taken from me by my ex-wife, I was recently unemployed and receiving $1000 per month in unemployment benefits. The court assigned $275 a month in child support. Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to what it was like to attempt to live on $725 per month? Does it make any more sense for someone making $2000 per month to pay $550? Does it make sense for a more wealthy person who makes $30000 a month to pay $7500 per month? I personally do not want to meet a child who on whom there is $7500 a month spent.
For parents who are truly incompetent or a danger to their children, we don’t need divorce court. Each state already has an organization that is supposed to take children away from abusive parents. They do so even when both parents are still married and are not divorcing.