child support

Last week, Dr. J wrote a post on the New NYC Teen Pregnancy Prevention Ads. At some point during the day, a debate on the role of child support erupted in the comment section. In reading these comments, I realized very quickly that men and women have very different views on the role of child support, the fairness of child support (laws and calculations), and what child support does cover or should cover. Although this was an interesting topic, since I have no firsthand experience with child support, I solicited an open call on Twitter (@WisdomIsMisery) to see if any men or women would be willing to share their experience, views, opinions, and trials and tribulations with child support. Two writers, a man and a woman, volunteered. While I wanted their pieces to be original, I asked them to, at minimum, address four questions:

  • What do you think child support is “for?”
  • Is it fair?
  • What are some issues you face as a man/woman?
  • What, if anything, would you change about the process?

The Man’s Perspective on Child Support

(click here to read the woman’s viewpoint on child support)

I love my son.

It is important that this sentiment is clearly stated and understood from the very beginning; if you are a man and do not yet have a son, there are no words that can accurately describe the feeling in its entirety.  It’s like looking into a funhouse mirror that allows me to see into my own past, when I was innocent and untainted by the many hard lessons life has taught me thus far.

See Also:  The One That Got Away: An Ode To Almost Love

My son’s mother (I refuse to use the term “baby mama”) and I are not together; the story of why is long and sordid enough for a column all its own, so I’ll spare you the details.  Suffice it to say that no relationship manifested, but she decided to have our child, whom we both love unconditionally.  It was made clear from the “I’m pregnant and I’m keeping it” conversation that we would not be together, but I would be active in my child’s life and I wanted 50/50 custody.  I attended doctor’s appointments, was there when her water broke, drove her to the hospital and, due to a cesarean, was the first parent to hold my child.  From there, things have gone spectacularly awry.

This leads me to the actual subject of this “opinion”:  child support.  As a progressive thinking male, I have a love/hate relationship with the institution.  While I do immensely support the notion that it is the responsibility of a man to take care of any and all children he sires, there are far too many issues with existing child support law for me to be, well, supportive of it.  The current laws do not account for many factors that can result in what any man would call at best a terrible inconvenience, and at worst, an absolute horror story.

See Also:  The Urgency of Love

Most people know of at least one situation amongst their friends or family in which a man is paying child support.  Sometimes the system gets it right; the amount is fair and the child benefits properly from both the financial support and the regular presence of a man doing his best to take responsibility for bringing up his child.  These clear-cut instances are not the stuff of which a man’s nightmares are made of when he’s deciding whether or not he “likes it raw” with a partner.

No.

It’s the seedy underbelly, the worst case scenarios, the spirit-crushing vindictive nature of some women, combined with the random incompetence of the legal system that makes a brother wake up in a cold sweat with the voice of some ratchet echoing in his ears, endlessly dragging out his name like…

“BYRONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!”

“That ain’t even my NAME…”

For an extreme example, there is the story of Francisco Rodriguez, a Florida man who in 2007 found out he owed over $10,000 in back child support for a 15 year old daughter of whom he never knew; a monthly payment of $305 was established, putting an intense strain on his finances considering that he was now married with two daughters and a son from his wife’s previous marriage to care for; he even had to spend a night in jail over nonpayment. Standing in court with DNA results stating he was not the father – along with a signed affidavit from the girl’s mother, a former girlfriend of his circa 1990, asking that his child support responsibility be removed – Rodriguez was essentially told “tough luck, bruh”. There was a deadline to legally contest paternity, and because he had moved several times in the past few years, he never received the paperwork.

See Also:  My Little Brother And The Prison Industrial Complex

Damn…DAMN Damn.

A bright light appeared at the end of the tunnel though, and the judge ordered a court-sanctioned DNA test.  Mr. Rodriguez of course showed up (more than likely EARLY) to get the situation rectified; the girl and her mother did NOT show up for the appointment to submit to the testing, and at the time of the article, it was unclear if she had yet complied.

Damn, DAMN, DAAAAAAAAAAAMN!!!!

Check out page two for more cautionary tales and the author’s personal plan on how he will address his child support obligations.