• http://latitudenews.com/ Latitude News

    NEWS MAY 11: The UK government is thinking of seizing money for bank accounts or banning people from driving if they fail to pay child support. This on the day it’s revealed that Scottish absent parents (of whom 95 percent are dads) owe 330 million pounds (or $531 million) in child support. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2012/05/11/revealed-absent-scottish-fathers-owe-313m-in-child-support-86908-23855012/

  • AM

    Here’s my story of how badly a divorce can go and how the child support system is setup based on punishment rather than reward and how it seems to favor creating a “victim” which then sets in motion the wheels of (over) compensation as a way of creating “justice” for said “victim” as opposed to focusing on what is best overall for everyone – particularly the child.

    After taking over half of all household goods, the one (paid off) vehicle, and living for 8 months without any bills to worry about (I paid all of her living expenses); my ex-wife finally moved in with her friend. During those 8 months I took on extra work to support myself in a rented apartment as well as continuing to stay current on all bills and debts and providing a weekly food/etc. stipend to her. After she left, using the state mandated child support calculator, I began paying my monthly $760 for our only daughter’s “support.” My daughter was at the time, and still, per our divorce agreement, lives an exact 50% of the time with each of us. However, unless agreed upon otherwise (which my ex would not), I am stipulated to pay as if my daugheter lived with my ex full time. The monthly payment has no stipulation attached to it for any specific purpose, meaning that beyond paying this child support, I am also required to pay 70% of any associated tuition, extra-curricular and medical costs related to my daughter.

    The divorce itself resulted in me being saddled with ALL of our debt, to the tune of ~ $250k, which is why I continue to work 2 fulltime jobs. I am also expected to carry life insurance payable to my ex (not my daughter) which her lawyer explained, just like the child support, is not meant to go specifically to my daughter but is meant to sustain a particular lifestyle between mother and daughter. From what my daughter tells me about her weekends with mom, that usually means contributing to mom’s binge drinking. Yes, I’m bitter.

    More problematic than my terrible divorce agreement however was the nightmare I had to work exceedingly hard to avoid when the official child support system became involved. According to my lawyer, my ex’s lawyer, the judge and the people at the child support agency, I would almost certainly lose my drivers license, have the majority of my paycheck garnished and have assets seized for being in arrears the day that my divorce paperwork gets submitted to the child support agency. The reason being is that child support begins, at the least, the day the divorce is finalized, but most often it begins at an earlier date, such as mine did, about 6 months ahead of the actual signing date of the divorce. Technically, had I not been paying my ex during those 6 months I would, in fact, have owed her several thousand dollars – and that’s the thing. The child support agency for some reason assumes that father’s don’t pay and thus come into a divorce already in arrears even though there is absolutely no document suggesting one way or the other whether or not this is true. The result is that, unless you are as over-the-top pro-active as I was, the agency will seize whatever assets it can and take action against the father while all of the paperwork proving otherwise very slowly works its way through the bureacracy.

    Likewise, in future years the agency will review income tax returns to decide whether or not I should pay more money in child support without considering what the actual split of parental duties are (such as in my case – again – 50/50 exact split). These reviews are done without a preliminary hearing, instead, after a change has been made it will be on my responsibility to argue against it, after the fact.

    Were I looking 100% selfishly at all of this I would go for full custody of my daughter, which would likely remove the stipulation for child support (although sadly wouldn’t absolutely remove that stipulation), but even given some situations I disagree with about her mother’s parenting, I do believe my daughter needs us both. However, I feel very victimized by this system even as I’m looked upon by the system as the “victimizer.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1017167212 Cynthia Rosi

      There are so many stories like your story. It’s mind boggling that more Dads aren’t speaking out for changes to legislation, particularly being in arrears the day the divorce goes through. I’ve heard about that from several Dads. Please share the link to this piece. I wish you all the best – Cynthia

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1017167212 Cynthia Rosi

    This from Rae Rae Loveday on my Facebook page: Very interesting piece Cynthia, thanks for sending it my way. I’m really glad to see you examining this subject actually, especially because I have first hand experience with it, and I know how difficult it can be to maintain child support payments. One difficult situation that can arise with child support is when the non-custodial parent, the one paying child support, is required to make payments, but is also still in the child’s life, supporting them financially through their interactions as well. This double cost that is incurred because of legal requirements can be very difficult to deal with, and if the custodial parent is not open to working out an alternate agreement, then the parent paying must just struggle to keep up with things.

    I liked the review of father’s rights in different parts of the world. I thought it very interesting to read about the requirement in Britain that the non-custodial parent must prove it is in the child’s best interest to see them before gaining visitation rights. That is so absurd! What happened to innocent until proven guilty?? Doesn’t apply in that case I guess, hm? The bias of the US legal system for mother’s rights in custody judgements is a very unfortunate thing, and something I know many men struggle with. I’m glad you chose to highlight this issue with your piece.

    Thanks for sending it my way. Please send along any future writings of yours. 🙂