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In the light of the recession and rising unemployment, many states have created so called “child custody employment programs”, which are generally describe as a support system to help fathers meet their child support obligations. However, there is a rather ugly side to this approach. Mr. Custody Coach as an interesting article highlighting some of the problems of these programs.
The author describes a unique case in which the program miserably fails: Martez Fitzpatrick quit his job as a truck driver to take care of his daughter after the mother died. One result of this choice was that Fitzpatrick fell behind in his child support obligations to the mother of his other children. As a result, Fitzpatrick now had a choice of accepting extra work (in addition to a job that pays less than the previous trucker job) or go to jail.
From the article:
“If a mother were to take a pay-cut to ensure that a newborn baby was raised properly, she would be hailed as a hero. She would be lauded. She would be cheered. The family would make some adjustments to their spending to accommodate the reduction in income as a result of this noble decision and life would go on.
For Martez, the reality is – he’s absolutely not unemployed. He’s simply not making the same money he once was. He did so to raise a newborn baby girl whose mother died during childbirth. Guess what? That’s not good enough for the states and child support receiving ex-partner. So the state is going to “help” him find a way to make more money so [his] ex-partner gets paid and the state gets paid in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. How helpful of them.”
The author concludes his close look at the topic with a few questions that indeed should make us all think. How about working on expediting downward child support modifications so that parents don’t fall behind in their obligations? How about setting appropriate and realistic child support orders in the first place? How about we stop jailing people for failure to pay a civil debt? How about we stop hiding greed behind “the best interests of the children?”
There are surely exceptions and there are surely black sheep out there – non-custodial parents who try to find their way out of paying child support.
But this author does have a point. And all single parents know that U.S. law is, as far as divorce and child custody law is concerned, outdated and broken.