In order to justify increased alimony/support awards, the Agriculture Dept. artificially bumped up the costs of raising children by an accounting trick called “proportional accounting,” which uses per capita costs instead of marginal costs. This scheme determines the total costs of a household, and then divides by the number of persons therein. This is illogical because the adults therein incur most of those costs with or without children, who add only marginally to the cost.
Child support is, of course, almost automatically charged to the father, seldom to the mother. As with visitation, divorce orders may contain token amounts of support from the rare non-custodial mother; but these provisions are usually only as good as the inclination of mothers to comply. The federal Office of Income Security Policy found in 1991 that less than 30% of custodial fathers receive a child support award, whereas almost 80% of custodial mothers do. And, about 47% of those mothers who are ordered to pay support totally default on their obligation. In Missouri in 2000, about 6% of divorced custodial fathers were awarded child support; mothers were awarded child support in 72% of the cases, and no support was awarded in 21% of the cases. If a woman is arrested for non-support, it makes the news.
In (admittedly extreme, but not uncommon) examples, Diane Richie, aspiring ex-wife of Lionel Richie, filed for separation in October 2003 and divorce in January the next year, citing irreconcilable differences. In March of ΄04, she asked for $300,000 a month in child and spousal support to maintain the “extraordinary extravagant lifestyle” the couple had during their nearly seven years of marriage. Stuart, Georgia attorney Willie Gary must pay $29,100 a month for 16 years, a total of more than $5.5 million, to Diane Gowins, an Atlanta woman, for the twins he fathered out of wedlock. Hip-hop music tycoon Sean “P. Diddy” Combs is battling to overturn record child support payments of more than $250,000 a year – the highest ever made in New York state – for 11-year-old Justin, his son by childhood sweetheart Misa Hylton-Brim. Then there are the requests of NBA star Jason Richardson’s ex-girlfriend to raise “child support” from $4,000 a month to over $45,000 (the judge gave her $7,000) and of Hollywood actor Viggo Mortensen’s ex-wife to a Los Angeles court to increase child support payments for their son from $3,000 to $18,000 a month.
In the early '90s Bobby Sherrill was a Lockheed employee and divorced father working in Kuwait when Iraq invaded. Sherrill was held captive by the Iraqis for five months. Upon his return to North Carolina, he was arrested for non-payment of $1,425 in alimony/support that accrued while he was a hostage.
A woman took her children to Germany, prevented visitation, agreed to a reduction of support for the inconvenience, then when her third mate couldn’t help her supplement the reduction, obtained increased support on the contention that the biological father could afford it because he bought a motorcycle. Another ex-husband was held in contempt of court for not paying $26,700 support on a child who was spirited away to Holland for eight years.
A Kansas father had to pay child support for a daughter who was in active military service. On Nov. 15, 2005 the So. Carolina State newspaper reported that the state Supreme Court ruled a Lexington County man must continue paying support for his 40-year-old mentally disabled daughter, despite the fact that she is self-supporting (earning between $250 and $350 a week from her part-time job) and collects federal disability payments ($275 in Social Security benefits a month), and despite the fact that the legal deadline for the woman’s mother – the defendant’s ex-girlfriend – to bring the paternity action had expired.
Although the age of majority is 18 in most states, many courts force ex-fathers to continue supporting offspring until age 21, reasoning that age 21 was considered to be the age of majority at the time the divorce order was written. The logic is convoluted from that permitting ‘No-fault ’ states to destroy without cause marriages entered prior to passage of no-fault legislation. A Wisconsin court found that state’s guidelines “result in a figure so far beyond the child’s needs as to be irrational.” When a court struck down Tennessee’s guidelines on similar grounds, the state Department of Human Services announced they would not abide by the ruling. Yet they jail fathers for violating court orders.
Child support payments accrue to the legal custodian, even if the child is living with the other parent, and continue until the court decides to modify the meaningless decree and order otherwise. Probably thousands of fathers who didn’t know this have paid double, been held in contempt, or jailed for non-support.
Support obligations can continue even after death of the father. In Nebraska, Don Harriman died leaving 2nd wife Debra, their 14-year-old daughter and two other daughters by a previous marriage. Up until his death, Harriman never missed a child support payment. Enter Nebraska statute 43-513.01, which states, “A judgment for child support shall not abate upon the death of the judgment debtor.” The government intercepted $1,867 of Debra’s tax refund, and was after more. Debra’s protests were in vain. Harriman had no assets, no property and no life insurance, so the state was attempting to collect from income after his death.
The fraudulent and predatory nature of the child support system has been documented in peer-reviewed publications by the Independent Institute, the National Center for Policy Analysis, the American Political Science Association, and repeatedly in Society.
Professor Amneus analogizes the argument that women and courts use to justify giving large alimony/support awards to divorcing women with the “Mutilated Beggar” phenomenon. In some large cities of the East there are begging rings headed by rascals who kidnap children and mutilate them for use as beggars. The more pitiable and grotesque the mutilations, the more the beggars earn. The alms go to the owners of the begging ring.
As Civil war era clucking about runaway slaves (“unlawful”) postulated the planted axiom that slavery is acceptable (“lawful”), so too does the uproar over “deadbeat dads ” postulate the false premise that child support orders are reasonable and that the whole process is fair to men. The idea is to make males more responsible; the effect is to make females less responsible.
In 1986, the Bradley Amendment (authored by former Democrat Senator Bill Bradley from New Jersey) was signed into federal law. It requires state courts to prohibit retroactive reduction of child support obligations. This ill-advised, iron clad prohibition has caused great hardship including prosecution and imprisonment of indigents, deprivation of driver’s licenses, revocation of passports and entry into poverty. Victims have had difficulties holding jobs, maintaining bank accounts or having any kind of meaningful access to the economy. By prohibiting obligors from retroactively reducing arrearages the Amendment has had the unintended consequence of preventing non-custodial parents from reaching a point in which they can satisfy the obligations imposed on them. On February 27, 2006, Phyllis Schlafly penned a brilliant criticism of this Amendment in Townhall.com.
Nationally-known attorney Jeffrey Leving said “Child support orders cannot be retroactively modified, no matter how mistaken, misguided or ridiculous. Even men who fell behind on their child support because they had heart attacks, broken legs or cancer cannot have their arrearages eliminated.” On February 27, 2006, Phyllis Schlafly penned a brilliant criticism of this Amendment in Townhall.com.
Few people seem to know or care if most fathers can even afford to pay. In middle-class families there is seldom enough money left after divorce obligations for the father to live comfortably. An income just sufficient to support one household before divorce cannot be stretched to support two afterwards. Men’s subsequent families have no standing regarding obligations to their first one. The exiled male doesn’t even get to claim head-of-household tax status, although financially maintaining the household. Talk about taxation without representation – the very cause of the Revolutionary War!
The myth promulgated by Feminist Lenore Weitzman, based on her contrived ‘studies,’ that an ex-husband’s standard of living skyrockets by 42% has been disproved by the scholarly attorney, Jed Abraham, JD and by Professor Amneus in The Case for Father Custody.
Bloviating about non-custodial parents who fail to support their children,” is immensely popular politically. Alan Keyes, an otherwise very astute political thinker, proclaimed that defaulting alimony/support debtors “should be horsewhipped.” “We will find you. We will make you pay” threatened former President William Jefferson Clinton . “The government will say to absent parents who aren’t paying their child support: ‘If you’re not providing for your children, we’ll garnish your wages, suspend your license, track you across state lines and, if necessary, make some of you work off what you owe.’ People who bring children into this world cannot and must not walk away from them.” Clinton’s denouncement of such parents during his State of the Union Address met with the loudest cheers of any of his proposals that evening. California ex-Governor Wilson says, “If you abandon your responsibility to your child…you forfeit the freedoms and opportunities that come with being a responsible citizen… We cannot and will not tolerate parents who walk away from their children.” He means men who have been deprived of their children. This is like stabbing a man in the back and accusing him of carrying a concealed weapon.
The Office of Child Support Enforcement published a series of reports titled The Story Behind the Numbers. The 1st in the series, Who Owes the Child Support Debt? points out that the vast majority (70 percent) is owed by non-custodial parents with reported incomes of less than $10,000 per year, and 42 percent of the debt is owed by debtors with no reported income. Federal Child Support Director Sherri Heller acknowledged, during a meeting for African-American groups in Washington in August, 2004, that “about two-thirds of the [child support] debt is owed by people who earned less than $10,000 last year. Even new Office of Child Support Commissioner Margot Bean admits “a federally-funded study shows most arrears are highly concentrated among a relatively small number of non-custodial parents, and most arrears are owed by non-custodial parents with no or low reported wages.” According to state officials in New York, at least 35 percent is owed by men with income of $12,500 or less. Less than 4 percent is owed by men with incomes of more than $40,000. In other words, it appears that most of the debt is owed by extremely poor debtors.
Washington political analyst Stuart Miller explains: Of the 30% of child support payments not collected, a significant number are owed by fathers who are imprisoned. A high percentage of prisoners have child-support obligations, and as many as one-third of the inmates in many county jails are there in the first place because of child support noncompliance.
Many of the other delinquent fathers are addicts, alcoholics, disabled, mentally incapacitated, unemployed, or otherwise unable to pay pre-set child support amounts. The General Accounting Office found in 1992 that as many as 14% of fathers who owe child support “cannot afford to pay the amount ordered.” Others don’t even exist.