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Hot Button Topic!!

I’ve had something on my mind for some time now and I thought it would be as good a time as any to write about it. I follow a few forums on LiveJournal regarding the childfree lifestyle and I saw an interesting thread about child support. The scenario is a somewhat common one: a man and a woman have sex and the woman ends up getting pregnant. Prior to this, the guy had made it known to the woman that he didn’t want to have kids in some fashion. He says he doesn’t want the baby (IOW, have an abortion); she says, no way, I’m keeping the baby — and here’s the kicker — and “I’m going to get every cent of child support out of you”. This, of course, seems like a calculated action by that statement.

Many subscribe to the school that hey, you did the deed, now live with the consequences. Fine. I am very much in favor of parents (regardless of origination) taking responsibility of their child(ren), both emotionally and financially. This is what they should do. The scenario I’m not clear about is where a guy who clearly doesn’t want children and is willing to sign away his rights in total and wants nothing to do with the kid. What happens then? Is he still on the hook for child support even though he doesn’t want anything to do with them? From what I’ve read and heard, the guy is still responsible financially as long as the mother doesn’t agree to the arrangement he proposes.

In other words, you don’t want kids? Tough. You don’t have to see them if you don’t want to (and even this is debatable), but you have to pay up. At first, I thought this was rather messed up. But, I understand why this provision is in place. It would be the ultimate “get out of daddy/mommy free” card to eschew parental responsibility and not pay anything. The kid basically ends up paying for it. What I find interesting is the stigma attached to child support and men. Where the mother is the custodial parent, it often becomes about the money, how much they can get out of the father and sometimes, how little they can allow them to see their children. While this is a vicious thing, for the mother, it becomes about the way the father “scorned” them and not about the child’s wants or needs.

But you know what, let me come away from the emotional aspect of this for a minute, because that is a situational thing. Let’s look at this from a financial prospective.

Here’s the thing: the non-custodial parent (usually the father) is paying child support but cannot deduct the child support paid as a tax credit, like with alimony. If the non-custodial parent is not claiming the child on his/her taxes (which they shouldn’t unless they have a special provision signed), they should be able to deduct any child support paid, in my opinion. The custodial parent doesn’t have to pay taxes on any child support money they receive! If you can’t deduct it, they other party doesn’t have to report it. And you, as the payor, have no control over how that money is spent! How many times have I heard from women with kids that they got their child support money and they’re going shopping? How are these women able to rock Coach bags and Gucci shoes… while this money is supposed to be spent on their kids?

This is a prime example of how broken the system of child support is. Look, I think that if a non-custodial parent is going to be giving money to the custodial parent, they should have some level of oversight in how that money is spent. That money should be spent for expenses related to the child’s welfare, be it clothes, education, x-mas gifts… whatever. It should not be spent on the custodial parent’s wants. And the custodial parent should be doing something in terms of income for themselves. Relying on child support for you and your child to survive without even trying to find work is irresponsible.

Then there’s the welfare system: try and get assistance from the system without a child. It’s the most difficult thing to do! Someone recently said they tried to get assistance because they were out of work, and was told by the office “have a kid”. What bloody sense does that make? Have a child and then have to deal with all the issues I mentioned above? Have someone that you are responsible for when you can barely take care of yourself? But this mentality makes sense why people have 3, 4 and 5 children. More kids = more money. Broken, I tell you. This whole thing is broken.

Look, the ideal would be if both parents were mature enough to work together for the ultimate benefit of their children, regardless of the financial implications on both ends. The custodial parent would be employed and provide a good example to their child; the non-custodial parent would be there for their visitations, pay their child support and provide a stable secondary environment for the child. The parents don’t have to like each other, but be adult enough to know their relationship is not about them, but is for the child’s sake. But hey, how realistic is the ideal? How often does that happen? More often than not, fathers run away from their responsibilities, mothers abuse their “power” to make the fathers pay, money gets misspent on all fronts… and who suffers as a result? The children… the very individuals that didn’t ask to be here.

While I don’t want children of my own, I like kids to an extent. They don’t deserve to be subjected to the misguided nature of their parents. Children are truly sponges; they notice EVERYTHING. So people, do yourselves a favor: if you really don’t want kids, guys… get a vasectomy. Ladies, same goes for you: tie those tubes.

People really should think twice before having sex these days. The next thing you know, you’re on the hook for life. You simply don’t know.