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Deadbeat Dad Policy

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Submitted By tulipblossom82
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I live in Washington State and it does not have a “deadbeat dad” policy per say. We do have laws that says a noncustodial parent is to pay support for a/the dependent child under the age of eighteen. The custodial parent is called the “oblige” and is the one who gets the support for the dependent. The noncustodial parent is the one who pays support and they are called the “obliger”.

“Child Support” is money paid by a parent to a party taking care of the children (usually, the other parent) to help support the children. A parent has a legal duty to help support his/her children. The court’s main concern in setting child support is to make sure that your children have enough money to meet their needs. Support is for clothes and food, to give the children a place to live (rent/mortgage and utilities) and have decent daycare and medical care. If the parents do not have enough money to meet the children’s needs, the court also takes into account parents’ ability to pay. A stepparent also has a legal duty to help support his/her stepchildren until a divorce from the child’s parent is final or until there is a court order ending the stepparent’s obligation. The parent usually must pay child support monthly.

So what does it mean to be a deadbeat dad? There are plenty of fathers who do not pay child support because they simply choose not to, leaving their children and their children’s mother in a lurch. There are fathers who are unable to comply with child support orders because they are just too poor. People in arrears can face jail time in some states, or they can risk having driver’s licenses, passports and professional licenses revoked–consequences that can make it all the more difficult to find employment. Child support debt can also ruin debtors’ credit, making it even harder to pull themselves out of the hole.

Tough enforcement is generally accepted because the concept of a “deadbeat dad” is a fiercely negative one, particularly among those who know all too well the tough hand dealt to single mothers. So public programs that attempt to aid child support debtors– the majority of whom are fathers–are not always popular. Consider a program in Spokane, WA where Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP), a nonprofit focused on poverty alleviation, is collaborating with local child support agencies. SNAP offers a range of financial support services for non-custodial fathers who have failed to comply with child support orders.

Fathers who see their children are more likely to pay support, and these fathers pay more support than do those who have no contact with their children. It is difficult to determine whether fathers who have more contact with their children pay more support as a result of spending more time with the children or alternatively, whether paying more support increases contact with children. Yet another possibility is that a third characteristic of families, such as fathers’ commitment to children or how well the separated parents get along together, explains both higher child support payments and more frequent visits with children. Many fathers and children want to maintain contact after separation and many resident mothers prefer that their child’s father be more involved with the child. What matters for children’s well-being is what happens during that contact and, importantly, how much conflict occurs between parents. When conflict is high, contact is associated with behavior problems in children. When conflict is low or controlled so that children are not exposed to it, they appear to benefit from contact with the nonresident father.

Conflict hampers the mother’s and father’s ability to provide stable and secure child-rearing practices, and hurts the quality of the parent-child relationship. Parents who are preoccupied with their own needs may have difficulty meeting the needs of their children, especially when parents are experiencing the trauma of a break-up. Money and child-rearing practices are major sources of disagreement among married parents and it is not surprising that these may be more difficult for divorced parents to resolve. Separated parents already have a history of conflict and are now facing ambiguous role responsibilities.

The system should be geared less toward persecuting those men and more toward enabling their families to be successful. A low-income father who lands in jail or loses his driver’s license because of child support nonpayment only becomes even less likely to fulfill his financial obligation. A more effective system might take those fathers who are willing to pay, but just don’t have the money, and put them in job programs instead of jail. Fathers who get to see their children are more likely to pay child support. Punishment such as jail time don’t facilitate such visits.

I do agree with my states approach to these policies because without them there would be lots of children not getting the support that they are entitled to. I also do not feel that jail time should be an option. I feel that taking their income tax returns, garnishing their wages and taking away their driver’s license until paid in full is sufficient in getting payment.

www.washingtonlawhelp.org Understanding the WA State Child Support Schedule and How Child Support is Set in Washington

www.rhrealitycheck.org Child Support Awareness Month: Why Helping ‘Deadbeat Dads’ Is Part of the Solution

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