- Browse Members
- Invite Friends
- Black-Owned Businesses
- iZania Market
- Sign Up
|Making Him Pay vs. Makng Him Present|
|Written by Darryl James|
|Monday, 26 February 2007|
Page 1 of 2
In this nation, violent crimes typically work their way through the underclass, who are both the majority of victims and perpetrators. Over the past forty years, more and more youth who are born into underclass families tumble further away from upward mobility. These fallen youth have little motivation to become productive members of society, leaning more toward gangs, violent crime and drugs than education and participation in the workforce.
In study after study, this trend has been linked directly to the decline in the number of fathers present in the lives of underclass children.When fathers are in the home, boys are taught self control, which is crucial in their teen years. Without limits set by a stable male figure, many young boys have difficulty determining where the world begins and where they end. And, having fathers around provides healthy role models for boys who are able to imagine what their future lives can be like based upon a stable adult male figure. A young man is able to make the transition to husband, father and productive member of society when an example is in his life. Without such examples, negative role models become the standard bearers, including gang members, pimps, thugs and other scourges from the bottom of society.
What does this mean?
Simple: Even if a man can not pay child support, his presence in the lives of his children is better for society overall.
At some point we must ask ourselves why the child support system focuses on the idea that a father’s best contribution is financial. Very little effort is spent toward assuring that children have emotional and/or physical connections to fathers whether they are paying child support or not. Sadly, the goal for most existing laws and efforts are simply to “make him pay,” including laws suspending driver’s licenses and providing access to bank accounts.
But making him pay does very little for making him present. In fact, focusing on making him pay may actually assure that he won’t be present. Focusing on making him pay has failed.
Ten years ago, $31 billion was in arrears on child support, according to the federal government. By 2003, that number had soared to $96 billion, along with the number of fathers in jail and/or out of the workforce. Further evidence that the “make him pay” focus has failed was found by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank. According to the Urban Institute, current measures designed to coerce fathers to pay child support has played a “crucial role” in forcing low-income Black men from 25 to 34 out of the workforce altogether.
The end result of aggressive child support collection is often the flight of fathers from financial burden that may be overwhelming and/or insurmountable.
The system is so anxious to make him pay, that it often holds men financially responsible without their knowledge and without them actually being fathers. A bill named for Senator Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey), dictates that once a man is assigned financial responsibility, he can not even go to court to have it reduced or erased.
The amendment keeps fathers up under child support even if it is determined that they are not the biological parent. This is really disturbing, when according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, roughly 70% of fathers are not in court when paternity is established and their monthly obligations are determined.
Fathers who are not present may not even know that they owe child support, and worse, according to that same LA Times report, “on average, more than 350 men every month are incorrectly named as fathers.” Going back to the Bradley Amendment, those fathers are still held under retroactive child support orders, even after being determined not to be fathers.