A fugitive people within a nation is tyranny.

Posts tagged ‘dad’

Social Media Attack: Arizona Is Enemy of ‘Deadbeat Dads’

gov-Arizona
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced yesterday the state would begin publicly shaming fathers who owe child support by posting on Twitter their names, photos, and the amount of child support they owe. The Twitter account, run by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), has already shamed its first dad — and Ducey plans to shame a whole lot more.

“For too long, you’ve been able to remain anonymous, able to skirt your financial and legal responsibilities with no shame,” Ducey said during his State of the State address on Monday. “Well here’s a new one for all the deadbeat dads out there: effective immediately, the state is going to begin posting the photos, names and money owed by these losers to social media, with the hashtag ‘#deadbeat.’”

The issue dates back to a 1999 law requiring the DES to post names and photos of individuals who owe child support to its website. Ducey, who said he’s referred to as the “hasthtag governor,” apparently wants to take it a step further for 421 parents who owe what the state considers to be a significant amount in overdue child support, a DES spokeswoman told CNN Monday. Ducey ended the announcement with a stern ultimatum: “If you don’t want your embarrassing — unlawful — and irresponsible behavior going viral: man up, and pay up.” (Doesn’t all the hubris seem strange in light of all the trouble the state of Arizona is having dealing with property liens and back child support issues?)

from the Verge

Sure, this is unconstitutional, but the downward-spiraling United States doesn’t care about that. Are you worried about an online confrontation? You should be. First, if you are stupid enough to blog and use social media with your real name, perhaps you deserve what you are getting when they find your account and start sending you messages. My advice is to close your current accounts if they are in your legal name and open others – or simply try changing your name on your current account. That just might do the job, but it won’t stop them from broadcasting your name. I can imagine that some hackers like Anonymous are going to go after Arizona’s public accounts and social media. After all, these bullies aren’t all that savvy – just bullies with an attitude. – MJR

It’s Never Enough: Pay Child Support, You’re Still a Deadbeat

by Moody Jim Rathbone

One of the worst examples of the discrimination that men face is with child support. Canada is no exception.

court in Halifax NSA Canadian judge has called a Nova Scotia businessman and developer one of the “worst deadbeat” dads in Canadian history. The judge sentenced him to four years in prison, adding a court fine of $384,000. Gotta make sure the corporate court has a little extra owed to it. Eh?

violation of due process and civil rightsThe National Post claimed that family court judge Theresa Forgeron (obviously an offended opportunistic feminist) said Vrege Armoyan’s “defiance spanned many years.” He owes a “shameful amount of arrears” racked up in a deliberate plan to hide money and to avoid paying support for his three children, ages 20, 18 and 15. (Shouldn’t two of those be emancipated?)

In typical fashion the judge aims at your heart strings – “His children struggle to survive while Mr. Armoyan has millions of dollars.” They are starving on a mere $9000 a month in child support that they have received like a slot machine. They don’t sound too hungry to me! What do you say?

kangaroo courtAs usual, the court debt is mostly imaginary. Armoyan was originally ordered to pay $29,000 a month in child support and alimony in 2012. He never paid the full amount. As a self-employed man of business, he is one of the few to claim that right. Instead, he opted to pay $9000 a month. The total arrears is $1,714,684.04, as well as owing over $1 million in court costs. I know who isn’t going to be in Canada – ever.

mob-rule-child-support-governmentNaturally, a blood-sucking lawyer was quoted as being in full agreement with the court. Lawyers depend on the good favor of the court. They kiss the ring of a judge, a legalized mobster. Surprised? So why are you paying your lawyer so much to represent you? He must be good in bed, for someone anyway.

Armoyan reportedly notified the court via email (they actually admit receiving it) that he was no longer a resident of Canada but he failed to say where he had moved. Surprise. The email source indicated that the post was sent from the Middle East.

Originally, Armoyan reportedly fled from Florida to Canada because a court had sentenced him to 60 days in jail for failing to obey a child support court order.

groceriesThe greed of the ex and the court is unrivaled, supported by the attorney of ex: “My client can’t afford groceries. She can’t afford to fly here for this hearing.” Perhaps she couldn’t afford the gas money to drive her limosine either. The bottom line? $9000 wasn’t enough for anyone. They pushed the issue and lost, putting themselves through some suffering.

To me, Mr. Armoyan is a hero. First, he’s self-employed and independent. He isn’t a slave to the court or a country. He isn’t afraid to make bold choices instead of simply caving to the state and an angry and ‘entitled’ ex-wife. Apparently, mom is a terrible money manager if she can’t manage on $108,000 a year, tax-free. The 18 and 20 year “children” should be emancipated. To the uninitiated, that means “on their own.”

court orderThe judge declared that Armoyan was guilty of “contempt of court.” Neither he, nor his attorney showed at a hearing last Friday. Doubtless, the attorney wasn’t paid to show, yet, his defiance is declared by his absence (not the attorney, he’s still kissing the ring). He “strategically and tactically” avoided payment and fled the country to avoid the unbounded greed of his ex-wife and the courts. Good for him. It’s a freakin’ gravy train against men in this part of the world.

Being in the Middle East in an unknown location in an Islamic state should be protection enough. I hope he finds a better life than being constantly stressed out by courts and a nasty ex-wife. Nobody deserves that lot.

original article

 

The War on Fatherhood in the United States

The South Carolina Killing & the Child Support Racket

by Phyllis Schafly

Scott-police-fatal-shootingWhy was Walter Scott running away from a policeman who tried to stop him because of a broken tail light? The media are trying to make a South Carolina policeman’s killing of a black man, Walter Scott, another sensational case of racism, but the media have missed the point of the tragedy.

The problem wasn’t racism, or even dangerous driving or stolen property. It was caused by the obnoxious anti-father rulings of the family courts and Scott’s fear that he would be returned to debtors’ prison. Scott had already been jailed three times for failure to pay child support, and he didn’t want to be sent to prison again.

captiveDebtors’ prisons were common in England in the colonial period. You can read about them in the writings of Charles Dickens, who wrote from firsthand knowledge; his own father spent time in a debtors’ prison.

We kicked out British rule by the American Revolution and abolished some of its trappings, such as royalty and its titles, primogeniture and bowing to our top national official. We thought we abolished debtors’ prisons even before we abolished slavery, but they continue to exist today to punish men who are too poor to pay what is falsely labeled “child support.”

We say “falsely” because the money collected from the poor guy usually doesn’t go to his kid or her mother. It just supports the welfare-state bureaucracy.

Of course, it wasn’t wise to try to outrun the policeman’s gun, but this sad event should make us re-evaluate the policy of repeatedly sending a penniless man to jail for failure to pay so-called child support.

These guys don’t have the money to hire a defense lawyer, which he should be given when jail is the cost of losing the case.

burning the constitutionWhen corporations can’t pay their debts, they can take bankruptcy, which means they pay off their debts for pennies on the dollar over many years. But a man can never get an alleged “child support” debt forgiven or reduced, even if he is out of a job, penniless, homeless, medically incapacitated, incarcerated (justly or unjustly), can’t afford a lawyer, serving in our Armed Forces overseas, isn’t the father, or never owed the money in the first place.

The reason “child support” debt can never be reduced by the court is the Bradley Amendment, named after a Democratic senator from New Jersey and one-time presidential candidate. That law should be repealed.

Fifteen years ago, a family court judge threw Scott in jail because he hadn’t made his child support payments on time, and that meant he lost his $35,000-a-year job at a film company, “the best job I ever had.” He then found some odd jobs but couldn’t make enough money to make the support payments the government demanded.

indigent in AmericaThe whole idea that a poor man is expected to support two households, including one with a child he never sees and may not even be his, is contrary to common sense and to all human experience. In too many cases, DNA investigations revealed that the poor guy is not the father of the kid for whom he is ordered to pay child support.

Scott seemed to turn a corner, but after making a couple of payments he fell behind again and was sent back to jail. He said, “This whole time in jail, my child support is still going up.”

Walter Scott’s older brother, Anthony Scott, told the Charleston Post and Courier, “Everybody knows why he ran away.” A bench warrant had been issued for his arrest for failure to pay enough child support.

A survey of county jails in South Carolina found that at least one out of every eight incarcerated people is there for not paying so-called child support. All this imprisonment is imposed without any jury trial, due process, or the benefit of a lawyer to defend the guy.

According to CUNY Law School professor Ann Cammett, an expert on incarcerated parents who owe child support, “We have zero evidence that it works. If the goal of the child support system is to get support for children, parents can’t do that if they’re incarcerated.”

kangaroo courtOne case on this issue went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, but it didn’t produce much relief. Michael Turner of South Carolina argued that his constitutional rights had been violated because he didn’t have a lawyer at his hearing, even though jail was the penalty if he lost. The Court ordered some minimal “procedural safeguards,” but didn’t tackle the issue of giving a father the fundamental right of due process before sending him to jail.

We hope Walter Scott’s death may help some dads in the future who are unfairly treated by the family courts, not given a lawyer, denied due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Changes Needed In The Child Support System

obamas new dealWhy is the child support system set up the way it is? It seems that child support enforcement is more of a punishment for the fathers/mothers that do what they can and the biggest victims are the children.

Fathers are subjected to their income counted and not what expenses they may have. I have read and seen where fathers have to live with relatives or even sleep in their cars to ensure that the support is paid; even the “judges” tell the fathers they need to go live with someone and give up many things that they need or want to do.

parental alienationNoncustodial parents are subjected to jail time, licenses are being suspended and they are being treated like trash by the court system.  Why has there not been any change to this system and why are the custodial parents subjected to needing to report a job source or income changes like the other parent. Nor do they have to provide proof of what the money was sent on.

Yes, I am a mother that receives child support and I feel that these changes are needed to benefit the relationships of the parents and the children.

Fathers do not have a voice when it comes to anything.  If he falls short to pay the full amount he is subject to jail time; if the father loses his job he may not be able to get a reduction.  If a father can not see his children due to having to work full time all the time, no one care.

Something needs to be done to change this.

Lynesha Lake
Chattanooga

overthrow

The Child Support Catastrophe

 

mob-rule-child-support-government

by Dalrock

Child support is typically framed as state intervention on behalf of children. However, it is more accurately an alternative to marriage for women. Traditionally, women would find a man willing to formally commit to them before having children. By marrying (and staying married to) the man who would be the father of her children, women would ensure investment from the man and the provision of resources both to her and her children. Note that child support isn’t needed in the traditional model, and that it isn’t relevant in the case of the death of the father. Even in the case of divorce, child support isn’t needed if parents share equal custody. Where child support is needed if women want to expel the father from the household (or never bring him in). When the facade of “its for the children” is stripped away, child support is all about removing fathers from the lives of their children.

If anyone has any doubt as to the true purpose of child support, they need only look at how it is enforced in practice. In theory whichever parent can better raise the children should be given custody, and the remaining parent would then be compelled to pay child support. In practice it is almost exclusively a way for women who expelled their children’s father from the home to extract money from the man. While the law is written under the guise of being gender neutral, this is a sham; the system is strongly biased towards women at nearly every step of the process. I’ve created a separate post to share all of the data, but here is a quick summary:

Mothers are far more likely to receive custody (over 80% of custodial parents are mothers). Those few fathers who receive custody are less likely than custodial mothers to have support awarded to them. Those fathers who have support awarded to them have less awarded on average than mothers. Due to all of the biases in the system, roughly 90% of all child support dollars are paid from fathers to mothers.

But still there are those who will claim this isn’t about money, it is about the best interest of the child. They say this even though the money goes to the mother, not the child, and the mother is under no legal obligation to spend the money on the children. If it were about the best interest of the child, the system would concern itself with maintaining the child’s relationship with the non custodial parent. But while the system is draconian in its enforcement of money (which almost always goes to the mother), it is generally uninterested in enforcing visitation (which almost always would be for the father). If the system were about protecting the child, it would enforce support and visitation equally. A parent who denies visitation is denying their child access to their parent. A system acting on behalf of the child would work vigorously to ensure that the child isn’t denied something which money can’t buy; access to and guidance from their father.

Not only does the system not take vigorous action to ensure that visitation orders are enforced, the system is designed to estrange fathers from their children. It uses draconian measures on the father while acting in the name of their children. Support is said to be based on the income of the father, but often it isn’t the father’s actual income which is considered. The court will often make up a figure which it assumes the father should be able to earn, and assign (impute) that income to him when setting the amount of support to be paid. W.F. Price described his own experience with this in the comments section of a recent Spearhead post:

There is really no cap on % of income a man can be ordered to pay. Being unemployed when my ex divorced me (she demanded I indulge her and help her get the job she wanted by watching the kids, and I stupidly went along with it thinking this would be temporary and would save my marriage), I was imputed, and therefore the child support was infinity percent of my income. I was imputed at the standard earning for a man my age in Washington state, despite the fact that we were in a recession and nobody was hiring.

There is no limit, therefore. Inability to pay is no excuse. You might as well be asking for mercy from the mob. I watched “”The Departed” recently, and when one of the bookies said he didn’t have the money the enforcer said “this is America – make it” after beating the crap out of him. This is exactly how fathers are treated.

captiveKeep in mind that men can be thrown in jail for failing to make these payments. Fathers all around the country are put in jeopardy of going to prison for money they don’t have, based on actions which are taken in the name of their own children. Undoubtedly the vast majority of fathers make every effort to not allow this injustice to poison their relationship with their children, since they know that their children are merely pawns being used by the child’s mother and the system. However, this kind of heavy handed tactic combined frequently with denial of time with and influence over their children has to impact the relationship negatively. Not surprisingly fathers who are less cut off from their children are more likely to pay support. In 2007 the Census found that 78% of non custodial parents who had joint custody and/or visitation privileges with their children made their payments, compared to 67% for those who didn’t have either (source, P9).

But the ultimate proof of what child support is all about is the end result for children. While there is a grain of truth to the old canard that divorce is caused by philandering or abusive men who either abandon or mistreat their children, the vast majority of divorces are actually requested by women. Professors Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen set out to understand why this was in their paper These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women:

Because of the financial and social hardship faced after divorce, most people assume that generally husbands have instigated divorce since the introduction of no-fault divorce. Yet women file for divorce and are often the instigators of separation, despite a deep attachment to their children and the evidence that many divorces harm children.

Here is what they found (emphasis mine):

Our results are consistent with our hypothesis that filing behavior is driven by self-interest at the time of divorce. Individuals file for divorce when there are marital assets that may be appropriated through divorce, as in the case of leaving when they have received the benefit of educational investments such as advanced degrees. However, individuals may also file when they are being exploited within the marriage, as when the other party commits a major violation of the marriage contract, such as cruelty. Interestingly, though, cruelty amounts to only 6% of all divorce filings in Virginia. We have found that who gets the children is by far the most important component in deciding who files for divorce, particularly when there is little quarrel about property, as when the separation is long.

Keep in mind that getting custody not only determines which parent has their children ripped away from them, but that because of the child support system the children also often come with a hefty payment stream the ‘winning’ parent can spend however they want. The ‘loser’ on the other hand is compelled at risk of imprisonment to pay amounts which can exceed their actual ability to earn. While this money is extracted from them in theory on behalf of their children, it robs them of their ability to be seen as wanting to take care of their children. Fathers can’t spend money on their children which the mother has already taken by force. Making this winner take all game even more lopsided, in the US the receipt of the payments is considered tax free, since the support payer must pay the income tax on it.

This system which is supposedly about the children encourages mothers to expel their children’s fathers from their lives. One divorce explains how many women think about this:

The problem with my life, as I saw it then, was my husband, and I imagined divorce as a process that would remove him but change little else  a sort of neutron bomb that eliminated men but left the rest of the world intact.

But divorce is only one way that child support encourages women to become single parents. The direct route to unwed motherhood is to simply get knocked up without getting married. This wouldn’t have guaranteed unwed mothers child support in the past. However, the rules were changed in the latter part of the 21st century, as Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers explain in their paper Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces:

Supreme Court rulings in the 1960s and 1970s also changed the nature of family relationships by eliminating many of the legal distinctions stemming from the marital status of a child’s parents. In 1968, the Supreme Court ruling in Levy v. Louisiana (391 U.S. 68) granted equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to “illegitimate” children. Five years later, the 1973 ruling in Gomez v. Perez (409 U.S. 535) overturned state laws exempting men from financial responsibility for “illegitimate” children. These rulings reduced both the social and economic cost to women of bearing a child out-of-wedlock…

Not surprisingly, this along with welfare payments has lead to an explosion of children being born out of wedlock. You can see the impact in the chart below from NCHS Data Brief No. 18 May 2009, Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States:

children-unmarried-women

The 2011 Statistical Abstract of the United States provides the breakdown of out of wedlock births by race (Table 86 pdf or image) for 2007, the latest year data is available. 40% of all babies born in the US in 2007 were out of wedlock. This figure was 51% for Hispanics, 28% for whites, and 72% for blacks. The US isn’t exceptional for its out of wedlock birth rates either:

out-of-wedlock-children-by-nation

But the direct approach to unwed motherhood isn’t preferred by all would be baby mommas. Some have a strong sense of tradition, and prefer the classic approach of marrying the father and then divorcing him after the children are born. Fortunately for them child support along with biased family courts makes this nearly as easy as the direct approach. As an added bonus, they get to attend a big party held in their honor, where they (get this!) promise in front of everyone they know to stay married to the father for life. This more classic approach to baby mamma-hood is also on the rise, as you can see in Figure 1 in Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces.

Divorce has gone from almost unheard of to extremely common. According to the US Census 2009 SIPP data, 39% of all white women aged 50-59 had divorced at least once. This works out to 42% of all white women that age who ever married. For Hispanic women the figures are 27%&30%, and for Black women the figures are 38%&48%.

All of this action supposedly in the interest of children has resulted in millions of kids growing up with little or no access to their fathers. A small percentage of these kids are better off because of the system. They had fathers who either abandoned them or were abusive. Far more have lost something irreplaceable; the chance to grow up with both their mother and father (chart source):

historic-living-arangements-of-children

There is a huge body of research showing how detrimental this is to children. In the interest of space I’ll only share one small quote from Dan Quayle Was Right (emphasis mine):

Even for fathers who maintain regular contact, the pattern of father-child relationships changes. The sociologists Andrew Cherlin and Frank Furstenberg, who have studied broken families, write that the fathers behave more like other relatives than like parents. Rather than helping with homework or carrying out a project with their children, nonresidential fathers are likely to take the kids shopping, to the movies, or out to dinner. Instead of providing steady advice and guidance, divorced fathers become “treat” dads.

Apparently–and paradoxically–it is the visiting relationship itself, rather than the frequency of visits, that is the real source of the problem. According to Wallerstein, the few children in the California study who reported visiting with their fathers once or twice a week over a ten-year period still felt rejected. The need to schedule a special time to be with the child, the repeated leave-takings, and the lack of connection to the child’s regular, daily schedule leaves many fathers adrift, frustrated, and confused. Wallerstein calls the visiting father a parent without portfolio.

This is built into any child support scenario, and simply cannot be changed or wished away. The profoundly negative result of fatherless children is widely acknowledged, even by those who enthusiastically support the new family structure child support encourages. However, instead of blaming the process which created the problem, most now blame the very fathers who had their children ripped away from them. This is the final insult by a system which sees fathers as no more than a walking wallet. Instead of blaming the concerted social push to allow women to raise children outside of marriage, the fathers themselves are blamed for being absent! Following the London riots many have pointed out that a major cause of the out of control youths is a lack of fathers. The headline of The Telegraph reads:

London Riots: Absent Fathers Have a Lot to Answer For

Make Fatherhood a Man’s Choice!

The burden of pregnancy will never be fair. Child support can be — but men need to have a chance to opt out

by Anna March

pregnancy testMY MOTHER WAS unable to obtain an illegal abortion, though she tried, in 1967 when she learned she was pregnant with me.  Instead, she attempted paternity fraud—passing me off to her boyfriend as his child though I was actually fathered by another man.  Her boyfriend, who became my putative father, married her and then clued in when I was born, totally healthy, three months “prematurely.”  He went along with it, though. They divorced when I was six years old, but he paid child support until I was eighteen, $270 a month.  I’m a product of child support, and it was a necessary part of the financial picture for me and my Mom, who did not have a college education and often worked two jobs during my childhood.  My mother would race home from work, check the mail, and, when the check was there, we would go to the drive-in window, open until 7 pm, at the local branch of the Union Trust bank to deposit the check. Then she would get $20 cash back (this was the days before ATMs) and we would splurge on a pizza at the neighborhood Italian place next door.  On the way home we’d swing by the post office and she’d mail the envelopes with checks she’d been holding in her purse for days to C & P Telephone and to PEPCO for the electric and to Washington Gas. The next day came the grocery store. The connection was very clear: the bills didn’t get paid without the child support. The food didn’t get put on the table without the check from “dad.”

Despite all of this and in complete keeping with my deep-seated feminism, I believe that making fatherhood optional—as motherhood is—and revamping the child support system to stop requiring financial support from noncustodial parents (usually men) who want to opt out early is good for women, men, and the kids in question. In addition, we should further our support of women who choose to opt out of motherhood via abortion or adoption as well.  It’s time to make parenthood a true choice, on every level.

————————————————————————-

Over the past fifteen years, some feminists have argued that ending the current child support system is an important social issue. In the October 19, 2000 issue of Salon,Cathy Young argued that women’s freedom to choose parenthood is a reproductive right men do not have but should. Her article, “A Man’s Right to Choose,” identifies abortion rights and adoption as options that allow women greater sexual freedom than men when a sexual encounter results in conception.  While there are alternatives to parental responsibility for women, for men, “in the eyes of the law, it seems that virtually no circumstances, however bizarre or outrageous, can mitigate the biological father’s liability for child support.” Kerrie Thornhill’s article “A Feminist Argument Against Child Support” in the July 18, 2011 issue of Partisans picks up this point, arguing that where birth control and safe abortion are legally available, choosing a sexual encounter should be a different choice than choosing to be a parent. She offers a three-step replacement for the current child support system. First, Thornhill writes that “when informed of a partner’s pregnancy, a man should get a single, time-sensitive opportunity to choose fatherhood.” Second, by accepting, a man would assume all the responsibilities of fatherhood, but by declining he would legally be no different than a sperm donor. Finally, she suggests that for low-income families, state-funded child support should exist. In her article “Is Forced Fatherhood Fair?” for the June 12, 2013 edition of the New York Times, Laurie Shrage echoes Kerrie Thornhill’s sentiment when she opines, “In consenting to sex, neither a man nor a woman gives consent to become a parent.” She argues that if one believes that women shouldn’t be penalized for sexual activity by limiting options such as birth control, abortion, adoption, and safe haven laws (laws that provide a safe space for parents to give up babies), then men’s options shouldn’t be limited either. These writers all point out that motherhood should be a voluntary condition. Shrage and Thornhill agree that the construct that fatherhood after birth is mandatory needs to change.

Feminist response in opposition to the idea of giving men an opt-out of child support has been swift and passionate, including from many writers and publications I deeply respect. Pieces like Mary Elizabeth Williams’ “There Is No ‘Forced Fatherhood’ Crisis,” June 13, 2013, in Salon; Jill Filipovic’s June 17, 2013 blog post at Feministe titled “Is It Unfair to Force Men to Support Their Children?” ; and Meher Ahmad’s“’Forced Fatherhood’?  Yeah, Okay, Whatever” in Jezebel from June 13, 2013  all followed quickly on the heels of Laurie Shrage’s New York Times appearance. I have a deep admiration for all three of these writers and publications, yet take strong issues with each piece. Mary Elizabeth Williams tells a personal and compelling anecdote about how her father abandoned her family before she was born. She points out that this occurred before Roe v. Wade. Her story is a poignant example of why abortion and adoption need to be legal and available options, but it is a straw man as an argument against Laurie Shrage’s position. Shrage, along with Thornhill and Young, explicitly states that legal and available abortion is a necessary component of a woman’s reproductive autonomy and only suggests changing child support laws as a means to bring to men a similar reproductive autonomy to what women enjoy.  Filipovic wonders at what point a man should no longer be able to sever his parental rights. She doesn’t have to wonder, however, since Shrage both indicates that she is talking about obtaining informed consent at the time of assigning paternity but also states that child support makes sense in the case of divorce because a man already accepted the responsibility of fatherhood.  Ahmad goes so far as to acknowledge that the system is unfair to men, but argues that women face so much more unfairness that we shouldn’t care. Her claim that forced motherhood is more difficult than forced fatherhood is certainly true, given the burdens of pregnancy and childbirth. However, that inequity is not a reason to enact policy that forces fatherhood.

No one needs to make me understand how important child support is. I understand firsthand from my own childhood that child support is often a critical part of a child’s economic well-being or lack of same. The thing that keeps kids out of poverty keeps the food on the table. And beyond my own experience, the statistics on the importance of child support are unimpeachable—the money matters. However, I agree with the bulk of the points made in the pieces cited above that suggest we need to allow men an option out of fatherhood.  (To be clear, like these authors, I am not talking about cases in which people have decided to have a child together and then one person wants to opt out. I’m talking about a short window during pregnancy—so that women have enough time to make their own decision about which reproductive choice they are going to make in light of the man’s decision, in case that is a factor for them.) As Thornhill argues, men should have a window of time to decide whether or not they are going to sign up for fatherhood, and after that they will either be treated like a sperm donor or be held financially liable.  It’s close to parity with the choice women have—and fairness is a basic feminist value. Further, this system allows for women’s total reproductive autonomy and by doing so, we inherently advance women’s sexual and economic autonomy as well as strengthen feminism itself.   Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we improve the economic safety and well-being of any resultant children by ensuring adequate state support when necessary.

This system would forward the arguments for women’s reproductive autonomy by making women entirely responsible for the outcome of their choices. Of course, for this to work, we must encourage and enable women to make thoughtful choices about motherhood and reinforce abortion and adoption as available, valid choices. Currently, we tend to treat abortion with a literal whisper and adoption as an outlier. We shouldn’t automatically make the jump that a woman who is unable or unwilling to have an abortion for whatever reason will then have a baby who needs to be supported by her and a father—of course adoption remains a valid choice, even if we tend to dismiss it or ignore it in our rhetoric. We should reinforce our support for and demand for abortion rights—safe, affordable, accessible abortion on demand for all.

However, in the meantime, we should not use problems of access to and affordability of abortion as a reason that men must pay child support (i.e., that women can’t access abortion so they have to have and raise children and men therefore shouldn’t get off the “hook “either). Those women can utilize adoption.  It has always confused me that those who are in favor of holding men financially responsible for a child that results from a pregnancy do not attempt to hold men legally responsible for sharing the cost of abortion with a woman who decides to terminate her pregnancy.  I think men have a right to opt out of both, but if one argues that men are responsible for the outcome of a pregnancy they created, and abortion is the outcome, why don’t we pursue men for abortion costs?  Especially when, according to the National Network of Abortion Funds, more than 200,000 women a year in the U.S seek assistance with paying for their abortions.  The Network also points out that 4,000 women a year in the U.S. are denied abortions because they pass the legal gestational limit while trying to raise the funds. Why do we put men on the “hook” for children but not on the “hook” for abortions?

Additionally, lack of access to abortion doesn’t mean we should be unfair to men.  We need to stand by women’s reproductive freedom, no matter what choice a woman makes. And a woman who wants a child needs to be prepared to support that child even if the biological father is not willing.  I don’t believe that we will ever have true reproductive autonomy until men are offered the option, as women are, to opt out. We will never have full reproductive autonomy if we continue to put an asterisk next to “my body, my choice” and add the footnote “but if I decide to have a baby, pal, you have to pay.”

In the above mentioned Salon piece by Williams, she says, “I would love to live in a world in which no one is ever dragged kicking and screaming into parenthood. But that’s never going to happen.” Why not?  Women can opt out now—men should be able to as well.  Then we would live in a world where no one is dragged into parenthood.  Let us come to focus on that goal and not, as political philosopher Elizabeth Brake says on this issue, “fixate punitively” on getting men to pay.

And, as part of expanding our support of adoption as an option, we should expand our support of women utilizing safe haven laws.  Sometimes people say “outside of infant safe haven laws,” like Feministe did in the piece cited above, but let’s stop that. Let’s consider them a reasonable method of relinquishing parental rights, not merely a measure for the desperate.  As it stands, in most states, if a woman gives a child up for adoption via other methods, she and the father are still responsible for financial support until the child is adopted. (Safe haven laws vary state by state, but can typically be invoked for three to ninety days, with the average being about forty-five days. North Dakota allows up to one year.)

Perhaps consideration of the fact that it is a choice a woman makes to have a child rather than opting for abortion or adoption, not something beyond her control, will help us move our support of adoption past the wink-wink-nudge-nudge stage.  If a woman finds herself in need of economic assistance to raise her child, let us return that obligation fully to the state where it belongs, and was, until the conservative state decided to shift the burden to women’s sexual partners to reduce the welfare burden on government. Children’s economic welfare should not be tied to maternity or paternity.  The state needs to stop shirking its responsibility for its most vulnerable citizens—including kids.  Further, the one group of “fathers” the state is willing to exempt from child support are sperm donors, sending the message that it’s okay to have a kid and not support it if there was no sex, but if you get some pussy, you are going to pay. Let’s not support that model.

Bias Against Fathers in U.S. Custody & Child Support

Promiscuous Dad Gets 23 Months in Jail

from ABC News

arrestAfter fathering 23 children, Howard Veal, who may be the biggest deadbeat dad in America, has been sentenced to 23-48 months in jail for failing to pay child support.

“In my entire career I have never seen a case like this where so much was owed to so many and ignored,” Kent County Judge Dennis Leiber, who has presided over support cases for more than 20 years, told ABC News.

The Michigan man accumulated a debt of more than $533,000 in child support payments, according to court records. Veal has allegedly failed to support his children beyond a few meager payments.

“You are the poster child for irresponsibility,” Leiber told Veal at a court hearing, according to The Grand Rapids Press. “You’re an insult to every responsible father who sacrifices to provide for their children.”

In the last seven years, Veal reportedly paid less than a total of $90 for two of his children’s upkeep. In July, Veal pled guilty to failure to pay child support to Sherri Black for his children aged 16 and 11 years old.

Of the more than $63,000 owed to Black, the Muskegon High School graduate was asked earlier this year to pay 10 to 100 percent of the child support owed for reduced charges. By late August, Veal had paid nothing.

Black, the mother of two of Veal’s children, wrote in a letter that it’s heartbreaking to choose between shoes and rent.

With a checkered employment history, the 44-year-old Veal has been living with his current girlfriend, who is the mother of four of his children.

During a presentencing investigation, Veal disclosed he fathered 15 children with a total of 12 women but said he could not remember them all.

Findings by a more comprehensive report ordered by the court alleged Veal fathered 23 children by 14 different women. Children that Veal has also allegedly failed to support.

‘Outrageous Case’

Michigan Assistant Attorney General Mitchell Wood wrote the judge to seek sentencing beyond the guidelines: “The Attorney General’s Child Support Division has prosecuted thousands of felony nonsupport cases since its inception, but none as outrageous as this. For a decade, between 1989 and 1999, the defendant impregnated at least one woman every single year.”

After hearing the facts about the case, the judge said he deviated from sentencing guidelines for substantial and compelling reasons. The guidelines called for no more than six months in jail.

“When you create a human being, I think you have a fundamental responsibility to provide for that child with necessities like food, clothing and shelter,” says Judge Leiber. “Those were the thoughts running through my mind when I saw a man that was spectacularly irresponsible.”

Veal says he’s been out of work and pays what he can. At least 14 additional child support cases are pending against him.

The case has lighted up the online comment boards in Michigan, where unemployment tops 13 percent.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, in an opinion piece on its Website, said the tough sentence doesn’t solve much.

“Explain how it makes sense to take a man who can’t or won’t pay child support and stick him in jail for up to four years where taxpayers will then have to pay more than $30,000 a year to feed and house him?” wrote Joyce Pines.

But the Saginaw News said that enough is enough. “We’re with the judge in our astonishment at the breadth of the accusations in this case. The father says he tried to make child support payments from his unemployment checks. But — come on! — there’s no way that 23 children could be even partially supported on that kind of income.

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