Fathers who do not have equal custody of their children can struggle enormously in regards to being a strong and powerful presence in the lives of their children – often leading to strained relationships. In some cases, there may be no relationship at all. The situation can be even more upsetting if a father is also not keeping up with child support payments.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2010, roughly 85% of people paying child support are men. Although women have a much stronger presence in the work force now than they did a decade ago, it is still more common for children to have a stay at home mother rather than a stay at home father. As a result, among other factors, we see more men with child support obligations than women.
Child support is a crucial resource that serves as a means of contributing to the welfare of a child. It can show that even if a parent isn’t spending all day every day with a child, he or she is still supporting that child and maintaining a relationship, if only financially.
Unfortunately, there are many fathers across California who cannot keep up with support payments because they simply do not have the money. In California, the guideline that courts use to determine support takes into account parents’ income but ignores many if not most of the financial obligations parents have. There are serious consequences to falling behind on child support payments. However, nothing is quite as bad as the stigma of being a “deadbeat dad.”
As this article in the Washington Post discusses, just because a father is delinquent with child support does not mean he is a “deadbeat” nor does it mean he isn’t contributing anything to the well-being of the child.
According to research conducted by a sociologist, there are many fathers who contribute as much as they can when they can, even if they are not paying formal child support. The sociologist notes that the men she interviewed were struggling with poverty and regularly missed child support.
But she also found that they were still buying things for their kids when they could. Even though the financial contribution may have been less than $65 a month in some cases, that money still represented a large portion of the money the men earned.
What we can take away from this article is that while child support payments are incredibly important, there are other ways that fathers (and mothers) can contribute to the welfare of a child that should be acknowledged. It should also be a reminder that referring to delinquent parents as deadbeats can be misleading and ignores the support that is being given.
Keep in mind, this article is not meant to minimize the negative consequences of getting behind on support payments. Supporting parents, that are struggling to pay for child support because of a decrease in income, the arrival of another child, or any other life change, may be entitled to a reduction in support. Usually, courts will only adjust support as of the date the parent filed for modification. Therefore, it is important to address support-reducing modifications as soon as possible.