Time for Child Support Reform?
Child support is the financial payment or duty of a parent for a child from a relationship that no longer exist. Parents who have children have a financial obligation to take care of the children’s primary needs until a certain, usually age eighteen, when they can fend for themselves.
Child support started from the end result of the break down of marriages (divorce) when the husband and wife decided to no longer live together. During the nineteenth century, women had a lot of problems supporting the family because their primary job was being a homemaker. Women weren’t allow to work in public places based on cultural practices of America during that time and they were taught that taking care of the home was their primary duty. Most of the time after a divorce, the man would leave the family and woman would have primary custody of the children. Since the man was the primary breadwinner and sole provider of the family, he would become richer while the mother lives in poverty as she has to provides the expenses for her children. This created a division on socio-economic class between men and women. When women had to find a job, they wouldn’t be able to obtain certain jobs based on lack of education and work skills which was primary based at the home. Sometimes when women did obtain certain jobs, they weren’t being paid on the same level as men. This created a problem for single mothers who found it hard to provide for their children.
In the mid-twentieth century, the poverty level of single mothers started to have an effect on society creating a division in the socio-economic class. According to the CATO Institute, the first federal aid program was Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) created by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 to help and provide families with support where the father was deceased, absent, or unable to work. This was suppose to help out single mothers in their financial situations which benefited more than 600,000 families by 1956. The ADC tended to be successful as the number of families receiving support increased from 4.3 million in 1965 to 10 million in 1972. As the years continued, the number of welfare participants continued to increase.
Despite the success of the ADC, child support needed to have its own division. By 1975, Child Support Enforcement was a national program established by Congress where both parents must provide for their child best to their ability. Non-custodial parents were determined to provide financial support for their children regardless of their income status. But as time went on, some people didn’t pay or refuse to pay the child support, so the Deadbeat Parent Punishment Act was established in 1998 which individuals may face federal prosecution. Through these laws, many parents have had their credit score ruined and faced time in jail for non-payment of child support. Since 2000, child support in the United States has been highly criticized for its practices and ethical issues.
Child support is a controversial topic in the United States as people have mixed feeling about it. But before we can make a final decision on child support, we have to examine the pros and cons.
One benefit of child support is financial support for the child. Many times a single parent may not have enough money or resources to provide all the necessary needs of the child. So receiving child support may be used to help provide the basic upkeep for the child needs.
The negative effect of child support is there no record to show how the money is being used by the custodial parent. Sometimes a non-custodial parent may be forced by a court order to pay child support but the custodial parent does not have to show how much they spend each month on the child needs which make people to become skeptical of making payments.
Another negative aspect of child support is non-visitation rights. In some cases, some non-custodial parents may be denied visitation rights despite the fact they are making monthly child support payments which may make a parent decide not to complete payments.
According to a CNN article titled Deadbeat Parent Cost Taxpayers $53 Billion, it states that in 2009, over $100 billion is owed in unpaid child support and nearly half of that to taxpayers supporting their children on public assistance. When custodial parents don’t receive child support payments, they end up receiving public assistance. This cost the government around $53 billion. 82 percent of the custodial parents were women. Child support is an economic burden for the country and most public assistance do not want to be responsible for it.
For example a man named Desmond Hatchett, a Tennessee native, has twenty four children with eleven different women. He has be incarcerated since December 2009 for non-payment of child support. In the state of Tennessee, child support cannot be collected more than 50 percent of a person’s income. In Hatchett’s case, each child receives approximately $1.49 per month which can’t do very much. So the mothers will most likely have to receive public assistance for support.
Another case of child support is from William Marotta, a Kansas resident, who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple giving birth to a girl in 2009 . They had an agreement that he will not have any financial obligation for the child. The couple separated and one of the women applied for public assistance and the state contacted Marotta. According to Kansas Department for Children and Families, any agreement would not be valid because a physician was not present to perform the insemination. So according to Kansas law, Marotta is the father so he owes a financial obligation to the child. But if you really want to question it, why should he pay if both parties in the contract agreed Marotta would have no financial obligation for the child? Is it really based on ethics or finances?
Many people don’t understand that non-payment of child support is a criminal offence. Child support is a debt and if it is not paid on time, the non-custodial parent may be subjected to a collection agency and/or face jail time. Sometimes a non-custodial parent may lose their job and not be able to keep up with payments but still required to make payments and if they fail to make payments, they may go to jail. In some cases, if a parent is thrown in jail, they may not be able make payments and when they do get out, they may have a criminal record on their file which may prevent them from obtaining certain jobs despite their qualification. So throwing a parent in jail for non-payment of child support may not be the best option.
Every person who brings a child into this world has an obligation to make sure that the child is well taken care of their basic needs. But clearly, there are some problems with child support as the custodial parents does not have to show records on how they spend the money on the child. Sometimes a parent may be thrown in jail if they are not able to complete their monthly payments. It is a major problem in our society today which is a financial burden. Do you think it is time for a child support reform?
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