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Tilting at Windmills

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January 27, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

CHILD SUPPORT....Mark Schmitt writes today that Republicans and Democrats worked together for more than ten years in the 80s and 90s to create a genuinely effective system of enforcement for child support payments. It passed in 1996 as part of welfare reform:

And it worked. In 2004, 51% of child support was paid. From 18% to 51% is a huge transformation. I doubt that anyone in the mid-1990s would have predicted that. One study showed that improved child support enforcement was responsible for a quarter of the reduction in welfare caseloads.

As Mark writes, getting this passed was hard work, a triumph of serious policymaking.

I imagine you can guess the rest of the story, can't you? Serious policymaking is not in vogue in today's Republican Party, which has decided to slash $4.9 billion from this program. And why not? It might be working great, but it doesn't benefit the K Street business interests that fund the GOP, and that's all that matters. Take that, family values.

Kevin Drum 2:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (98)

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Family values, eh?

Posted by: craigie on January 27, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

My father's father abandoned his family of wife and two children, 3 and 2, back in 1936. Of course, no child support or any support of any kind was received by my dear grandmother or her children. Yet everyone on that side of the family votes Republican.

Republican men yearn for the good old days when you could abandon your family, move to another community, and start over -fresh, without all of that liberal hogwash about family values and providing for one's children. It is good for the corporate economy to have a lot of single-parent women toiling long hours as the primary providers, working as charwomen or chicken coop supervisors for minimum compensation. It is the opportunity to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and make a success that keeps America great. Unless they are from Mexico.

Posted by: Hostile on January 27, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Enforcement of child support is a bad thing because it encourages women to get divorces rather than try to make the marriage work. This leads to the breakdown of the American family which causes the large numbers of people committing crimes and on welfare. By reducing child support marriages are more likely to last longer and many social problems like drugs, crime, and welfare will be greatly reduced.

Posted by: Al on January 27, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

It has long been one of my personal interests to watch the conflict between social conservatives and those whose conservatism revolves around money. Sometimes it, as in the selling of pornography, makes for interesting stories.
This, however, just shows how badly damaged things can be, and that there are real people (read children) being hurt by these policies. What a shock...

Posted by: Mike B. on January 27, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

This sounds like a job for the state governors, as the states are the ones that are going to end up picking up the costs for this idiocy.

If I weren't so convinced by Benjamin Friedman's thesis that economic want makes a populace less tolerant, and less interested in social welfare and civil liberties, I'd be tempted to say that this was a good thing in the short term. Enough of actions like these and the affected would show up at the polling booth to take it out on those in charge. Unfortunately, I suspect that these sorts of decisions instead bring more people into the I'm-getting-shafted-so-should-you camp, which the right takes advantage of with their "OMGFAMILYVALUESPEWPEWPEW" rhetoric.

Posted by: Monstertron on January 27, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

And don't think that child support enforcement can be done on the cheap. This isn't a public relations campaign. It requires a large number of expensive, dedicated employees to do the hard, tedious work of tracking down parents, figuring out their sources of income, persuading local prosecutors to file court orders and follow up with them, setting up payment schedules and payroll liens, etc., all the while dealing with sometimes hysterical recipient parents ... the burnout rate is astronomical and devastating to state CSE departments.

Posted by: yellowdog on January 27, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Grr, don't get me started on child support. Child Support the way it is calculated now is completely insane and creates many unintended and bad consequences.

Go see Federal Child Support Enforcement Cuts
Will Hurt Bureaucrats, not Children
and Glenn Sacks

Basically, in a world of no-fault divorce, there should be a presumption of equal, 50-50 custody, unless it can be proved one parent or another is not fit. But now there is no-fault divorce and presumption of guilt child support laws.

Any thanks to the child support laws, I can no longer do what comes naturally to most americans, which is, to change careers or go back to school.

If I am laid off as happened during the dotcom bust or to many in today's society time after time, I am still responsible for child support during months where I have no income and that happens until I can go to court to modify that, most of which requires lawyers.

And if my new job earns less than my old job, that is grounds for a court fight to impute wages to me that the market is no longer paying.

And if I wish to improve my skills by going back to school, or if I wish to change careers, say from marketing rep to political blogger, if that lowers my wages, it is grounds for to have my wages imputed at the old level.

I love my children, does it really cost my ex $2500 per month for their expenses when she has then 75% of the time and I pay for their medical insurance and 2/3rds of other medical costs? In contrast, the court thinks I can get by myself on $2500 each month for my expenses as well as my kids. Figure out how far $2500 goes in terms of your rent, car, gas, food, energy....

Read Glenn Sacks and do some real study on how unequitable child support is for everyone involved.

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

To clarify, child support in and of itself is a good thing. The current system of calculating and enforcing child support has created many more problems than it has fixed. And starts off with a presumption of guilt and bad behavior which is grossly unfair if not downright sexist and evil.

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

All of which will, of course, just lead to more Republican chest-thumping five years from now as welfare rates begin going up again. We'll get to hear more speeches about how these single mothers are lazy welfare cheats driving Cadillacs, and IF ONLY we could get them ejected into the streets, all our social ills would be solved.

For a taste of what's coming, see Al's comment above.

Posted by: Derelict on January 27, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Phyllis Schlafly also against legislation protecting women against domestic violence because it too lead to the breakdown of the American family?

Posted by: diane on January 27, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Derelict,

I refuse to taste Al's comments. If the smell is any indication, they probably taste like rotten eggs.

Posted by: Monstertron on January 27, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

This type of thing just goes once again to prove that our side does not control the media. Can you imagine this story being mentioned every ten minutes on MSNBC, Fox, and CNN? Flashed on front pages of most newspapers?

As we all know, it won't happen. Over and over again, Republican failures are not talked about.

Posted by: reino on January 27, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Take that, family values.

Pfft. These kinds of families aren't the ones we're talking about when we mention "family values." Everybody knows the only people who get divorces and have to pay child support are anti-God liberals bent on the destruction of the traditional family. I mean, QED.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on January 27, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry,
alas, no one can speak to your specific situation. Sounds like you should have had a better lawyer. I don't know what you think "fault" divorce would have to do with child support, though. You could have "proven" your wife was "at fault" in the divorce--what? you weren't involved at all?--and still have had to pay child support for the children which resulted from the marriage. In fact, if your wife had died youw ouldn't have been able to return your children as too costly, either. In fact, when you decided to have children you took on the responsibility of raising them and paying for them regardless of the situation of your spouse--they are *your* children and they cost some money. And guess what? you also assumed some risk that you wouldn't be able to do what "other" americans who didn't assume that risk have. Oddly enough "other" americans don't have the "choice" to go back to school and make more money either, once they have made other committments to other people, other jobs, other debts. You are in precisely the same situation as all othe ramericans--men and women. You took on some responsibilities that you would rather not have now and you find your life situation constrained. Boo--fucking-hoo.

Your wife has the children 75 percent of the time which means she must maintain a home that will house them 100% of the time. She must stock it with clothing and food for them 100% of the time. She must be available to take care of them 24 hours a day, including her work hours, when she has them for that 75 percent of the time. IF she fails in that committment she can be held legally liable. She also assumed the 100% risk of death or serious injury in birthing the children--a risk which you neither could have, nor would have, assumed.

So cry us a river.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on January 27, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

An interesting correlation to watch: one of the central pillars of enforcing child support payments is the Deadbeat Dad Registry, by which new hires are checked by their Social Security #s against a national database of dads who owe. Virtually every Republican in Congress eagerly voted FOR this provision.

Yet in 1994, when the Jordan Commission recommended testing electronic verification of employment (partial disclosure: I worked for the Commission, and I have an interest in the issue) based on the Social Security #, Grover Norquist, et al, rallied libertarians and the evangelical right against this as Big Brother and (I kid you not) "the mark of the Beast". (Check the Monthly's piece "Borderline Insanity.")

The House-passed immigration bill mandates that DHS finally implement this system, and holds out a carrot for employers: use electronic verification (which, having been tested, works) in good faith and you can NOT be fined for hiring illegal workers. (Since, if you use the system in good faith, you won't be doing that.)

A Norquist client, the construction industry is adamantly against it. The Senate is a bit squishy, since it's in the McCain-Kennedy bill for "gradually".

So it poses a huge opportunity for Democrats to do the right thing AND gain, politically: so far, none of these issues are seen as all Democrats and sensible Republicans against a despicable minority.

Let's fix that perception.

The fact is, as Al notes, there IS a repugnant but conservative view that says if a man bails on his kids, he should skate because we don't want the government to have the authority to enforce his responsibility.

It's the same bogus libertarianism that erodes citizenship.

And there WILL be votes this year. Frame 'em right.

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 27, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Big government is never the answer to social problems. These programs don't work.

What? You say this one did?

Big government is never the answer to social problems. These programs don't work. La la la la la I can't hear you...

Posted by: shortstop on January 27, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

They're slashing 4.9 billion from the program?

How much do the deadbeats owe, anyhow?

Posted by: Crissa on January 27, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

The basic question: they slashed 4.9 billion...how much more money will be spent on the welfare recipients?

However, as much as I think Bush & co. are corrupt asses, we need to know the where and why of that slashing, and whether the program could be run more efficiently with equal results.

Posted by: Greg on January 27, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Al - I know you won't reply, but...

How do you explain the drop in violent crime and welfare abuse since this program was enacted?

Posted by: Crissa on January 27, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

The drop in crime can be directly attributed to the robust economic growth during these years. Moreover, the Republicans know how to effectively deal with crime and welfare abuse. Remember, they have been in power for five years.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 27, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

'Enforcement of child support is a bad thing because it encourages women to get divorces rather than try to make the marriage work. This leads to the breakdown of the American family which causes the large numbers of people committing crimes and on welfare. By reducing child support marriages are more likely to last longer and many social problems like drugs, crime, and welfare will be greatly reduced.'
-- Al

A textbook example of the sort of "upside-down", Bizarro World, Orwellian thought process that dominates modern American thinking (again, I use that term very loosely in this context.

This sort of mental diarrhea is a lot like "reducing income tax rates leads to higher government tax collections" or "we have to destroy this city (e.g. Fallujah) in order to spread democracy". No wonder this world is as f*cked up as it is....

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 27, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry's only valid point is the 'If I as a parent end up getting paid less, they still can take money from me as if I were paid what I was.' Which is a valid complaint - alot of deadbeat parents (I will not say 'dads', even if 90% of them are) don't have stable job situations.

But still, there needs to be a way to pry money out of the parents who go and hide behind their new spouse, parents, friends, etc to hide their actual income and expenses.

Posted by: Crissa on January 27, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Another thread, another group of people responding to "Al" as if he were serious ...

Posted by: Alek Hidell on January 27, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

They do, tbroz? By, uhh, how?

Posted by: Crissa on January 27, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

California was ahead of the curve on this one. In the 80s, if someone won the lottery, the State would first check as to whether any back taxes were owed and delinquent child support payments before they made any payment. There was a fellow who won $30,000, partied hardy, until the State notified him that no payment would be forthcoming as he owed that much to his ex-wife and children. His comment to the press was, "Well, I'm clear now".
I also saw the LA Country deputies pull a worker from a construction site for back payments in the early 80s.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 27, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Al, can you pick up the kids after work? Al??? Al????? AL, HOW COME YOU NEVER ANSWER??? IT'S LIKE YOU'RE SOME KIND OF POLITICAL CYBORG!!!! ANSWER ME!!!!!

Posted by: Donkey_Punch on January 27, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Alek,

You're probably right. Noone would really say something that stupid. But it's fun pretending, isn't it?

Posted by: Monstertron on January 27, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Not to start a divorce rant.........

But I'm with jerry on this one.
When there is federal support for visitation to the same extent as support, then and only then will I suport the federal rules for child support.

My state got it so screwed up. They sent a notice to my boss that I was 12 weeks in arears. That could have cost me my job. The drones never apologized, never corrected the record.

Posted by: Joe on January 27, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

One thing I tell young people is the sooner you have children, the sooner you stop paying child support.

Posted by: Hostile on January 27, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Jerry, what does your ex do? I'm assuming that if you're paying for the kids' medical insurance, that means she's either working part-time and staying home with the kids, or is a stay-at-home mom. And she's probably not covered by health insurance. better hope she stays healthy or you're going to be taking care of them yourself. And if not, if she has them 75 percent of the time, the implications are she has to take care of them when they're sick and take time off work, or turn down overtime opportunities, promotions or travel opportunities, etc.
You don't say where you're located or how many kids you have, but 2,500 a month for several kids doesn't sound like a whole lot, especially if you're in, say, California.

Posted by: lou on January 27, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: "the Republicans know how to effectively deal with crime"

They sure do. They make money off of it.

See: Abramoff.

Posted by: The Dude on January 27, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not convinced by Jerry and Joe. I know a guy who was a massive control freak - when he got married, he came across as a great guy, but once he and his wife had kids, he turned into a dictator. Jis wife wasn't allowed to have a car, a job, a TV, or a telephone. Naturally, they got divorced.

He swears up and down that he has a raw deal because he has to pay child support for his kids. She has 75% custody, and she struggles to make ends meet on a secretarial job, while he makes about $100K a year, and has to be dragged to court to pay.

There are always at least two sides to a divorce story, so I'd be interested in hearing from Joe & Jerry's ex-wives about their side. Also, what argument did the court make in determining the custody?

Posted by: maurinsky on January 27, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'd expect that parents who are the kind of people who have to be forced by the state to pay child support are the kind of people who are angry about the state forcing them to pay child support. No doubt they believe it's unfair and intrusive meddling by the state in their personal affairs. So they're probably Republicans of the angry (usually male) variety.

In other words, Kevin, they're constituents.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on January 27, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK


no one anticipated the diapers breaking. - G.W. Bush

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 27, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

aimai, I think what he is saying is the court's decisions on the actual costs are inaccurate and unfair.

You wouldn't happen to have your own ax to grind, would you?

So stop throwing stones.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on January 27, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Maurinsky:

If you really want to know.....

Part of it was my wife did not want to stay in Oklahoma. She desperatly wanted to move to Florida.

She purchased a one way ticket for her and our 12 week old son. She did not tell me.

The court ruled that because she was just visiting, (her lawyers words, my wife was not abonding the state). The week that the trial was to commence the judge died.

The trial was postponed for over a year.

Her lawer said that because I did not visit in FLorida enough, I did not deserve to have time with the child.

Under a temporary order (18 months) I had to pay her car loan, her cell phone, and maintain a house that we just purchased.

I had to sell plasma for gorceries. If I got a second job, I was told that It would be calulcated as income for child support.

The DHS could not get the child support started because there was no Temporary order.

For the record we both have degrees.

My bitch with the child support guidelines is that it seemes that she did not have to use her earning potential while mine was assumed to last forever.

That is a small thing because lets face it, children do deserve to be taken care of.

But she still lives with her folks, and is never moving out. I don't think she has a job.

But my contact with the child is limited because she is able to live across the country, and I am punished for it.

Did I not give you info you were looking for?

Posted by: Joe on January 27, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

"When there is federal support for visitation to the same extent as support, then and only then will I suport the federal rules for child support."

Child support is about the children, and the enforcement of THEIR rights. While I certainly believe that the right for them to see their non-custodial parent is important and warrants protection, perhaps even federal protection as demanded here, this isn't some kind of trade between the children and their rights and the parent and his or her rights as implied by this statement. The state has a particular interest in enforcing the rights of children because as children they are less able to enforce their rights themselves.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on January 27, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Does larry think that it is "fair" for one part of a court ordered decree to be followed, but not other parts?

Posted by: Joe on January 27, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

aimai, actually you're factually incorrect about most of your post. They are my kids and I love them and are proud of them and am very glad to father them. I would like to have them 50% of the time, but based on my ex moving out of state, the court decided for me that that could not be. So I moved and have them 25% of the time and am working on the 50%.

In fact I am just as liable as she for the kids 100% of the time and I wouldn't have it any other way. And I take the kids to the doctor and stay home from work with them.

Regardless of all of that, (and working backwards from the number I know I pay) what I am saying is that the court's calculates that it takes $60,000 per year to raise these two kids to pay for their food and their clothes and their rent. My ex has them 75% of the time, so her costs are $45K. I earn more then she does so I pay $30,000 of that $45000. If I fail to pay the $30,000 the state gets involved in all.

So my question for you aimai, is that if this payment is for child support and not some form of alimony and not belated payment for my ex's taking on risk during the pregnancy, my question is: do you really think it costs $60,000 to feed clothe and house two children?

Crissa, when you write, But still, there needs to be a way to pry money out of the parents who go and hide behind their new spouse, parents, friends, etc to hide their actual income and expenses. My response is yes and no. I believe the evidence shows the vast majority of parents do not engage in that behavior, but the laws and the system all assume we do. To wit: I cannot change careers, I cannot go back to school, and if I take a job that pays less than what I am currently earning, the court can hold me liable for the difference. What is needed is a system that targets deadbeats, but is sophisticated enough to avoid harming everyone. In the end, it is the kids that are harmed.

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Seeing the phrase "serious policymaking" in your post triggered the thought that OUR FUTURE IS BEING DECIDED BY PEOPLE WHO SERIOUSLY AND UNASHAMEDLY DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE DOING. They pass laws they haven't even read! Would Republican voters accept a school teacher, a work supervisor, a football coach, who so obviously ignored the most basic details of the job?

You'd think an opposition party could make an issue of this, if we had one.

Posted by: Alan in SF on January 27, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Lou, my ex has a Ph.D that she obtained during our marriage while I worked fulltime. She now has a job that she works at 20 hours each week. She doesn't work 40 hours, but that is at her discretion since she has a new child. She gets healthcare, but the way the courts work it here is that the person with the better healthcare coverage gets that healthcare for the kids. I don't have a problem with that at all.

And if not, if she has them 75 percent of the time, the implications are she has to take care of them when they're sick and take time off work, or turn down overtime opportunities, promotions or travel opportunities, etc. But sorry, that's just not how it is played. We have to take care of them when they are sick, and the way we (both of us) actually play it, is to see who has any sick time they can take at work. So we both do. Same with OT and travel and promotions.

ou don't say where you're located or how many kids you have, but 2,500 a month for several kids doesn't sound like a whole lot, especially if you're in, say, California.

The State, California, is calculating that it costs $5,000 per month. That calculation is based NOT on charts of what it costs to raise a kid, and NOT on actual expenditures of either or both parents, but purely on the historical wages of both parents at the point in time when the calculation is made. In other words, if you were doing well in the dot-com when you got divorced, you may have to pay a lot more than the person next to you in your office who lives right next door to you because you were paid well. As your salary increases, the kids are entitled to a share of that. The problem being a) their calculation are way off base: $2500 for two kids under 8 in public school for rent and housing is way way too high, not to mention the $5000 they actually figure it is costing. Remember this is child support and not alimony and not pain and suffering and not a reward. It is to pay costs. And the problem b) is the system doesn't work in reverse. As jobs are outsourced, as markets for jobs decline, it is very hard to get the court to realize your earning power is really and truly declining and that you are just trying to game the system.

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Also, what argument did the court make in determining the custody?

Actually maurinsky, the court looked at the Marriage of Burgess which was in effect then, and then looked at my ex's request to move out of state with the kids and said Sure! The Marriage of Burgess was since overturned. But because she was moving out of state from a state in which I was earning a great deal of money to a state in which my job didn't exist, I was not able to immediately follow. And since I couldn't immediately follow, the court did the next logical thing: they gave her 75% custody and told me to visit every other week. And I did so for a year until I found a job that paid me about 60% of what I was earning in the Bay Area, but it was the only job there that paid more than 40% of what I was earning in the Bay Area.

So every other week, I commuted (by driving since I couldn't afford to fly) 2000 miles round trip to be with my kids.

And I was there each and every time except two times that occurred when after a time I had visited but had been denied visitation and at a time I couldn't afford the 2000 mile trip itself. And yes, you are darn right when you think that the courts heard about the two times I wasn't there (referred to by the ex as "abandoned the children") but you are wrong when you think that the courts have heard about the denial of visitations.

In fact what happened is that one weekend I was completely shutout from the kids, I missed two weekends trying to reestablish contact, I moved to the state with a new job, and the courts gave the ex an "emergency order" that didn't require my knowlege of the hearing saying that I was trying to reestablish contact after I had abandoned the kids and hte kids (then aged 4 and 6) thought I had died in the Iraq War (regrettably, I have never served in the military) and that it would be damaging to the kids for me to be in their presence.

Like I said, all of this done on penalty of perjury, signed by her lawyer, and given to her without my knowing that this hearing even took place.

Once that has occurred, it takes you years of legal crap and tens of thousands of dollars to try to refloat the boat.

My experience is neither rare nor extreme. Visit Glenn Sacks' site, do a little bit of study, and you will find the experience is common.

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

You moonbat lefties love this program because it undermines traditional marriage which perpetuates society. I learned this from Leave It To Beaver reruns.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 27, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Reading between the lines, the fact that it was passed as part of welfare reform tells me that it was intended to fight the "underclass" of children with absentee fathers who wind up on welfare.

I wouldn't be surprised if someone pointed out to the GOP that this program was starting to affect a lot of people who form a major part of their base- Suburban White Men. Otherwise, why ditch it?

Posted by: Alderaan on January 27, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

All you dead beat dads up thread, crying for sympathy, you are pathetic. Don't tell me why you think you have the God given right to drop your kids into poverty. You remind me of the woman I knew who wanted to dump some kittens. She took them to the side of a country road and dropped them off with a box of cat food. She told everybody that she had done the right thing because she left the kittens a box of cat food. The kindest thing for you to do would be to take your disposable children to the pound and have them put down. Sorry for the shocking sentence, but families with children work best when they have a mother and father. People who voluntarily break up two parent families with children so they can follow their muse have no right to complain about child support enforcement.

As you can tell I have actually handled dissolution cases--so many in fact I got sick of the whole crowd of irresponsible parents.

Now if you are married but don't have minor children at home and want to divorce, go for it. No problem with me. Once your child was born that child became your primary responsiblity.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 27, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

I sincerely feel for divorced parents, both men and women. And the story (ies?) of the divorced men on this post are pathetic, in every sense of the word. But what on earth is their complaint, really? That they are caught in a legal relation *with their children* in which *their children's rights* to be taken care of financially and physically entail costs--real world costs--on both parents. In other countries, I can tell you, as the father you would have lifelong responsibilities for your children financially--even to dividing your property with themw hen they asked you to. The fact is you are "legally responsible" for your child in this contry only until they are eighteen or so. That is not much of a burden.

I have known many divorced women and the same number of divorced men. In every case that I know of the children and the first wife are royally screwed by the husband and later by the husband's second family. But that's not an "axe to grind" that's just an observation. Someone has to pay for the children that people bring into this world. I'd advise both women and men not to marry deadbeats and fools--if the men who post so angrily about their ex wives on this board had thought that one through they wouldn't be divorced today.

At any rate, none of the individual experiences of the men on this board posting about their grievances affects the issue: if men refuse to pay for the children they father then the state is going to have to do it and that means the taxpayer.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on January 27, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, I can't pretend to understand your situation or your feelings. What I'm trying to say is, fairness is an issue -- your rights are an issue -- but it's a separate issue. I'd certainly support laws and mechanisms to better enforce the rights of non-custodial parents. But I don't think it makes sense for the government to dither on enforcing the rights of children until this happens.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on January 27, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really require an answer to this question, but the linchpin of jerry's problem is almost pedestrian -- (1) when children are young, one parent either stays home or limits their away-from-home working life accordingly, it sounds like in jerry's case this was his ex-wife, (2) comes a divorce, and, not surprisingly, its jerry's income (or, at least mostly jerry's which has to bear the load), (3) at this point, jerry's ex (or her lawyer) did an astonishingly better job of leveraging her power points (ability to care or the children) than jerry or his lawyer did with his power point (ability to support most (or all) of the family expenses).

Once the court allowed jerry's ex to move away, all equity went into the crapper. We don't know jerry, but why should he have to settle for anything less than 50% of his children's childhood? And, to get 25% plus the pleasure of driving 2000 miles to get that 25 is madness.

If jerry's anecdotes are true, it appears that his ex, far from being bothered by the fact that jerry's kids only got 25% of their time with jerry, was more inclined to eliminate jerry entirely. Certainly understandable from an emotional perspective perhaps, but not from a policy perspecitive.

Yet, continue to enforce support.

Whomever said upthread that any variance from 50/50 joint custody should be rare seems the wisest.

Posted by: hank on January 27, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

No wonder in LA County Superior Court, the floor where the divorce or dissolution courts are located, is referred to by lawyers as "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams".

Posted by: stupid git on January 27, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK
Whomever said upthread that any variance from 50/50 joint custody should be rare seems the wisest.

Well, at least if we are more concerned about abstract equity between the separated parents than the well-being of the child.

I'd argue, instead, that 100/0 -- on whichever side is most appropraite -- ought to be the rule, with variations rare.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 27, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to say it guys but, we've lost. The radical right is succeeding in taking over this country. Replete with "compassionate Conservatism" and other glittering BS views of reality. Who cares if mothers and children go hungry, as long as the GDP is doing well...oops not even that. As long as the rich are doing well! What these guys don't realize is that they are setting the stage for true class warfare. One where people will kill you for some change so they can eat. This growing gap between have's and have not's can't keep on at the same rate. We will in fact destroy everything this country once was...then all we will have left is the Mad Max vision of things. Real pleasant folks. But, not to worry, keep on voting those damn Republicans in. We'll be there pretty soon. God Bless America!

Posted by: none on January 27, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Crissa asked: How much do the deadbeats owe, anyhow?

I wondered the same thing. Mark Schmitt's post cites the figure that state enforcement spending saves governments $4 for every dollar spent (primarily through welfare and social services, I'd guess). He also cites estimates that the cuts embodied in the bill would reduce the amount collected by $8.4 billion if states make up half the amount of federal cuts, double that if they don't. Overall, he says that the changes moved support payments from 18% of what's owed to 51%. So it looks as if the total amount owed and paid is eee-normous. Assuming the studies are correct.

Posted by: Nell on January 27, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

"When there is federal support for visitation to the same extent as support, then and only then will I suport the federal rules for child support."

Yep.

If a couple is married, and the father quits his job, there's not a damn thing the mother can do about it--or vice versa, which is far more common.

The child support entitlement is complete garbage. Parents can split custody of children and that can be enforced. Beyond that, they can be responsible for their own children's expenses.

Posted by: Cal on January 27, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

None wrote: What these guys don't realize is that they are setting the stage for true class warfare. One where people will kill you for some change so they can eat. This growing gap between have's and have not's can't keep on at the same rate. We will in fact destroy everything this country once was...then all we will have left is the Mad Max vision of things.

The tiny, ultra-rich, hereditary, neo-fascist, corporate-feudal ruling class will be living in their nuclear powered artificial climate domes high above the rest of us, protected by their private mercenary armies, well out of reach of any pathetic desperate homeless peasants who might like to kill them for spare change.

Your vision is pretty grim, but I don't think you imagine how grim things are really going to get. The rich do. And they are getting prepared. That's one reason they are urgently doing everything they can to get as rich as possible, so their wealth can protect them from the onrushing collapse of civilization.

Or so they think.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 27, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

You know, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, there was a riot in Chicago in which 50 or 60 men were killed. Do you know what they were rioting about? It began as a fight, over who would get to pick through a particularly choice garbage can for scraps of food.

Forget child support. In the future that Cheney and Bush have in mind for us, people will be killing children and eating them.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 27, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

NOTICE HOW KEVIN DRUM FAILS TO POINT OUT THAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY 'K-STREET PROJECT' HE LIKES TO RAIL AGAINST WAS A PROJECT TO GET LOBBYIST TO STOP GIVING TO DEMOCRATS AND GIVE TO REPUBLICANS, BECAUSE REPUBLICANS HAD TAKEN OVER CONGRESS.

SO, KEVINS BIG COMPLAINT IS THAT REPUBLICANS WERE TRYING TO GET THE BRIBES THAT HAD BEEN GOING TO DEMOCRATS FOR FORTY YEARS.

Posted by: Patton on January 27, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

It shows they were just using good governance to get elected. Now they're in and they don't care to govern well. They have other interests to serve.

Posted by: MarkH on January 27, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely on January 27, 2006 at 6:54 PM:

I'd argue, instead, that 100/0 -- on whichever side is most appropraite -- ought to be the rule, with variations rare.

Until you consider that involved fathers are more likely to pay child support. Not to mention that the kids have a better sense of well-being.

Lotsa other related info here, as well.

Oh, and Ron Byers sucks ass. Sorry for the shocking sentence.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 27, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Enforcement of child support is a bad thing because it encourages women to get divorces rather than try to make the marriage work. This leads to the breakdown of the American family ... Posted by: Al

And if they don't get divorces, it leads to the breakdown of the women's heads, arms, & legs when their husbands beat the shit out of them because they can't leave and there aren't any shelters if they do, like back in the Fifties. FOAD, Al. I'd spell it out for you (since you're a moron) but I'm at the office.

Posted by: Temperance on January 27, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Well, neither my husband or I have ever been divorced, and all three children are both of ours. The kids have been raised successfully to adulthood. Our oldest daughter marries about three years ago to a man whose family is functional and intact, so they will probably make it, they have seen what it takes to stay married.

But when someone asks us the secret to a long marriage we tell them that we agreed up front that whoever filed for divorce had to take the kids - (and the lawn) - and the other one got to go to a one-bedroom apartment where they could leave towels on the floor, eat take-out, listen to something besides Raffi and the "Little Mermaid" soundtrack, and sit around in their underware.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 27, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Fake tbrosz. Fake Al. Jerry is the only troll on this board.

Posted by: Clue on January 27, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Finally the Republicans are doing something right. Obliterate so-called Family Courts altogether.

Posted by: Eddie on January 27, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

grape-crush

Sorry to hurt your feelings. I bet your kids would agree with me.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 27, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

All you dead beat dads up thread, crying for sympathy, you are pathetic. Don't tell me why you think you have the God given right to drop your kids into poverty. You remind me of the woman I knew who wanted to dump some kittens. She took them to the side of a country road and dropped them off with a box of cat food. She told everybody that she had done the right thing because she left the kittens a box of cat food. The kindest thing for you to do would be to take your disposable children to the pound and have them put down. Sorry for the shocking sentence, but families with children work best when they have a mother and father. People who voluntarily break up two parent families with children so they can follow their muse have no right to complain about child support enforcement.

As you can tell I have actually handled dissolution cases--so many in fact I got sick of the whole crowd of irresponsible parents.

Byers you smell like ass.

I doubt that you have handled any dissolution cases. Truth is the majority of divorces are filed for by the mother. Truth is the majority of custody goes to the mother. Truth is the majority of support goes to the mother. So this statement People who voluntarily break up two parent families with children so they can follow their muse have no right to complain about child support enforcement is profoundly stupid and ignorant.

And I haven't seen a single person in this forum saying they want to drop their kids into poverty. There is a great deal of difference between a court determined figure of $60,000 per year for the cost of two kids, and poverty. What I see the fathers doing is discussing move-aways and the gender bias of the courts and the very unamerican presumption of guilt.

Clue? I am a troll? By what definition?

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

hey grape-crush, did you actually read the articles you posted?

"many studies have documented problems in the absence of the father. Leving cites the National Fatherhood Initiative in reporting:


"72% of teenage murderers, 60% of rapists, and 80% of adolescents in psychiatric facilities, and 59% of prison inmates were raised with out fathers in the home

"Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school, and show lower reading and math scores

"Fatherless children are 11 times more likely to show violent behavior

"Three of four teen suicide cases are from single-parent homes"

The lesson. If you really love your kids, work to make your marriage actually work. Don't dump your kids to chase some other woman. If your marriage is in trouble, seek professional help. Exhaust every remedy before you divorce. Anything less demonstrates that your protestations to the contrary, your kids mean about as much to you as the woman I mentioned kittens meant to her. Of course, there are cases when divorce is the only option. Those cases should be rare.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 27, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Our faith tells us that regulation doesn't work, Kevin.

The idea that this program worked is a figment of your imagination, a delusion wrought by Satan to lead you astray.

It can't be a vision of reality, because our faith tells us that reality cannot be that regulation works.

Faith trumps reality.

The GOP are God's servants and are doing his bidding and fighting Satan by slashing these funds.

Deal with it.

Posted by: the GOP on January 27, 2006 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers, Sucking Ass throughout this thread:

Sorry to hurt your feelings.

No, you didn't, and Yes, you Suck Ass.

I bet your kids would agree with me.

No, little_grape doesn't, and Yes, you still Suck Ass.

did you actually read the articles you posted?

Yes, I did, and Yes, you still suck ass in a major Sucking-Ass way. I say this because you apparently didn't read the two sentences before the stats you quoted:

One question that is often asked by researchers is whether continued contact with non-custodial fathers after the divorce is beneficial to the children. Studies have been somewhat contradictory on this.

Nice cherry-picking, Suck-Ass.

The lesson.

In what? Sucking Ass?

If you really love your kids, work to make your marriage actually work.

And if we all clap our hands loud enough, Tinkerbell comes to life and stops Ron Byers from Sucking Ass. Marriages end when one or both spouses, for whatever reasons, decide to end it...one spouse cannot do all the work to try and maintain the relationship; it ceases to be a relationship when that occurs.

Don't dump your kids to chase some other woman.

No, that's not a one-size-fits-all scenario, and Yes, you continue to Suck Ass.

If your marriage is in trouble, seek professional help. Exhaust every remedy before you divorce.

It takes two people to tango, and only one pompous Ron Byers to Suck Ass.

Anything less demonstrates that your protestations to the contrary, your kids mean about as much to you...

It's like Ron Byers is some sort of preacher in the Church of the Universal Suck Ass...Especially when he makes some sort of weird Suck-Ass-umption that all divorced parents don't care about their kids.

Yes, a stable, loving two-parent family has been shown to give its children a lower probability of having personal or social issues later in life...But we all don't have that luxury, for many different reasons. Sorry, Ron; Leave It To Beaver was a tv show, not a documentary.

And No, calling parents who have issues with the legal framework surrounding child support 'pathetic dead beat dads' demonstrates a disconnect with the real lives of the people involved...Which Sucks Ass...

...like Ron Byers does.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 28, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Again sorry to upset you, but dumping your kids for your boyfriend or girlfriend isn't a life style choice that should be encouraged. Wait tell the kids are out of school, then leave him or her for your dog for all I care. My point is simple divorce has become the first, second and only choice for a lot of folks who hit rough patches in their marriages.

I am passionate because I have actually seen what happens to the kids left behind.

Does name calling make you feel better? It sure doesn't help your argument.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK

Grape,

I forgot, for your kids the "Leave It To Beaver" lifestyle isn't a luxury. It is what the deserve. Anything less is tragic.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104525.html
poverty levels from 1975 - 2004

At the risk of getting flamed, it appears that overall, people are better off now than they were 10 - 15 years ago - no matter who was in the white house. A couple of reasons that the Feds cut spending on Welfare Reform are that 1) Not as many people actually need it - kind of gives them a "kick in the pants" to get their act together, 2) so if the funds are not spent, then they become part of the cut. Personally, I would rather see Uncle Sam reform Social Security and gine ME the option of either staying "in", or putting my money in the market where it can really grow.
Ok, I'm done soap-boxing. Everyone have a good day....

Posted by: gop dude on January 28, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers, still Sucking Ass in the Morning:

Again sorry to upset you...

Again, you didn't, and again, you are Sucking Ass.

but dumping your kids for your boyfriend or girlfriend isn't a life style choice that should be encouraged.

I agree, but that is not a one-size-fits-all scenario when it comes to the dissolution of a marriage...which you should know if you've had any experience with them, as you claim you do...That, or you are just choosing to ignore reality, and again showing just how much you Suck Ass.

Wait tell the kids are out of school...

And in the meantime, both parents make crappy role models for their kids' interpersonal development...Living in a home where the parents continually fight or ignore each other is a Suck Ass way to raise a kid, which you should know as an authority in Sucking Ass, Ron Byers.

My point is simple divorce has become the first, second and only choice for a lot of folks who hit rough patches in their marriages.

True. But your mistake is in thinking that parental involvement can only occur within a marriage.

I am passionate because I have actually seen what happens to the kids left behind.

And I am passionate because I'm one of those parents who got handed a situation that I have to make the best of for the sake of my little_grape...and I do. I will admit that there are divorces that end up far worse than mine, a fact that Sucks Ass far worse than Ron Byers does.

Does name calling make you feel better? It sure doesn't help your argument.

Is that like you calling people "pathetic deadbeat dads"? Besides, making the statement "Ron Byers Sucks Ass" doesn't qualify as name calling. If Ron Byers didn't Suck Ass, he'd realize that...

I forgot, for your kids the "Leave It To Beaver" lifestyle isn't a luxury. It is what the deserve.

Oh, I could really tee off on this one, but let me just say - again - that Leave it to Beaver was a TV show, not a documentary...Ron Byers' inability to distinguish fiction from reality really Sucks Ass, doesn't it?

Posted by: grape_crush on January 28, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Grape

In response to your comment about "Leave it to Beaver"

"72% of teenage murderers, 60% of rapists, and 80% of adolescents in psychiatric facilities, and 59% of prison inmates were raised with out fathers in the home

"Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school, and show lower reading and math scores

"Fatherless children are 11 times more likely to show violent behavior

"Three of four teen suicide cases are from single-parent homes"

I have two stepsons whose father left for his girlfriend when they were very young. They are now age 30 and 27. As runaway dads go he was and is very, very good. He paid his child support on time everytime and tried to spend time with the kids (new family permitting) Both my stepsons have more than their share of problems sustaining interpersonal relationships. Don't lecture me about not knowing what I am talking about.

No matter how hard you try now, you and your spouse's failure to sustain your marriage will punish you children for the rest of their lives. Enjoy your muse.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Ron, you married a woman that didn't do everything it took to keep her marriage together? I'd say your anger at grape_crush is misdirected and using your own logic, your current wife is punishing your step-sons for failing to work through the rough patches with her husband.

Shame on you Ron!

Exhaust every remedy before you divorce. Anything less demonstrates that your protestations to the contrary, your kids mean about as much to you as the woman I mentioned kittens meant to her. Of course, there are cases when divorce is the only option. Those cases should be rare.

Ron, you are an ignorant asshole. In this forum you have blamed the victims on several occasions while rationalizing what you evidently feel is your own wife's poor behavior.

Seek help.

Posted by: jerry on January 28, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Jerry
I have read everyone of your whines. In one of your posts you complained that because you had to pay child support you lost your god given right to quit your job and go back to college. In another you claimed you spent thousands and thousands flying across the country to see your kids. Boo hoo. Your response is to cut support for your kids. Your thinking is something like, "I don't care what the court says, that bitch doesn't need that much to take care of them."

You sir are not a victim. Your children are the victims of you and your former spouse.

You can lecture me about my wife all you want. That is fine. She didn't leave her first husband, he left her, but, unlike you, she doesn't claim victim status. She cries often over the harm visited on their children by their failure.

You and your PHD former spouse are just selfish adults playing games. The victims are your children. Grown up and get over it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers, trying to get in one last Ass Suck:

In response...(repeat of earlier-posed statistics)...

What were the criteria for calling a home 'fatherless'? Was it due to birth outside of marriage or as result of a divorce or the death of the father? If those statistics you Googled based the definition of 'fatherless' as 'divorce only', how many of those were homes where the father had reasonable access to the children?

Explain the statistics you cited, or continue to Suck Ass. Your choice.

I have two stepsons whose father left for his girlfriend when they were very young.

Not to be harsh, but I'm trying to follow along: You married the mom that got dumped...Was that soon after she divorced from her first hubby, or was there a number of years in between?

As runaway dads go he was and is very, very good. He paid his child support on time everytime and tried to spend time with the kids (new family permitting)

Paying child support and being a 'Disneyland dad' doesn't qualify as being 'very, very, good'. Not that you are setting a low bar, mind you, but 'trying to spend time' isn't the same as actually being there as much as possible. Sounds like he did what he was required to do, and enough extra to not feel too guilty...Also, did he have all the access to his kids that he wanted, or did he just not take advantage of the access he had all the time?

Both my stepsons have more than their share of problems sustaining interpersonal relationships.

Again, you gotta look behind the obvious: Did your wife date much or have shorter-term relationships prior to being with you? Was she basically by herself before you two hooked up? Of course, the divorce could be considered a prime factor in your observation, but what happens after the divorce could be considered just as important.

Don't lecture me about not knowing what I am talking about.

No, you are the one giving the lecture...Your application of your limited experience to this issue gives the impression that you don't know what you are talking about...and Yes, you still Suck Ass.

No matter how hard you try now, you and your spouse's failure to sustain your marriage will punish you children for the rest of their lives.

And remaining in a loveless or abusive relationship or having one or both spouses commiting acts of serial adultery doesn't punish a child as well? Putting this intangible concept of 'Marriage' above the well-being of a family Sucks Ass...just like you do, Ron Byers...

Enjoy your muse.

And you enjoy your Ass-Sucking, m'Kay?

Posted by: grape_crush on January 28, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

No, jerry, he's expressing anger because he's being called on his own bullshit...And my repeating 'Ron Byers Sucks Ass' probably doesn't help either.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 28, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should legalize, then tax sex; like the Japaneses to with tobacco.

We could grant everywoman compensation for every poor fool she wet nurses, she gets a cut, the governemnt gets a cut, and the proceeds go to childcare.

Any woman with thighs strong enough to squeeze a man's eyeballs out can get her share too, but she pays.

Posted by: Matt on January 28, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the bit I don't get:

If you are married, with kids, no one can make you do any particular job. If you're tired of being a Wall Street broker and prefer working at the local gas station instead, no one can stop you; in fact, no one would even think of stopping you.

If you are divorced, with kids, OTOH, you are going to be in a nasty legal wrangle, because, I mean, you have to bring in that nifty salary, it's owed.

Myself, I think that at some point this runs afoul of the 13th Amendment. People aren't positively entitled to be "kept in the style to which they have been accustomed," and a woman who's sought and obtained custody of her children is not then entitled to require her ex to bring in the same income he did when they were married, because she's not entitled to do so when she's still married. Or if she is, the word hasn't gotten out: Married men with kids are still sometimes quitting lucrative jobs for less stressful work that doesn't pay as well! Hopefully that at least is still legal.

Posted by: waterfowl on January 28, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Waterfall, you are right. With an intact family nobody would care if one of the spouse changed jobs or went back to school, but in order to survive you would expect both spouses would do some planning. The change would be a family decision. The other spouse would probably work harder during the educational process. The whole family would hunker down. It wouldn't be Jerry's unilateral decision. You notice that while Jerry complains that he can't unilaterally decide to go back to school, he also complains that his former spouse didn't get his permission to do the same thing.

One of the facts obviously overlooked by people getting divorced is that the day to day costs of the entire family unit actually go up as a result of divorce. Instead of one rental or house payment they have two. They suddenly have two sets of utility bills. Transportation costs go up. Two households just cost more than one. The financial stress dads like Jerry complain about is real. They don't have as much money as they thought they were going to have before the divorce. The various states have just decided that the kids shouldn't suffer excessively. That is why child support payments are painfully high. Jerry can get a second job to support his life style choice. Most often people like Jerry or his spouse jump into second marriages not out of love, but because they need somebody to support them.

I did domestic relations law for about 20 years. I saw lots and lots of divorces. I never met a party who didn't claim victim status. A long time ago I grew tired of men like Jerry and Grape and their wives claiming victim status. Mostly they aren't. Unfortunately their kids are.

This tread was started to discuss the Republican's dismantling of the child support enforcement process in most states. That is an important topic, but it has been hijacked. Guys like Jerry haunt places like this whining.

Children are not a lifestyle accessory. Once the kid is born that kid is the central responsiblity for both parents. The sooner folks like Jerry and Grape realize it the better our society.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

"remaining in a loveless or abusive relationship or having one or both spouses commiting acts of serial adultery doesn't punish a child as well? Putting this intangible concept of 'Marriage' above the well-being of a family"

Until the last century or two most marriages were arranged. Most of them started out loveless, but most of them lasted and deep relationships were developed. Arranged marriages are still common in large parts of the world. Love or lust is a wonderful fun thing, but once you decide to have kids you are no longer playing. Children are for keeps. You should have thought about the long term sustainablity of your marriage before you got her pregnant. If either of you weren't willing to be faithful, you should have used birth control.

Don't get me wrong, I know abuse occures. I don't have a problem with dissolution in those cases. Most of the time people run into a rough patch and jump to the conclusion that divorce is the only answer.

Grape, sorry if I am too judgmental for you, but I think you are going to find that more and more people of all political and religious stripes are becoming more and more judgmental on this issue. For good reason. We are sick and tired of cleaning up your mess.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Ron, once again you avoid the facts.

As I pointed out before, the majority of divorces are filed by the women, the majority of custody goes to the women, and the majority of support goes to the women. Yet you proceed to claim that I am a pathetic deadbeat dad whining about my lifestyle choice. Divorce was not my idea. And I am in no way trying to avoid my parenting skills or my parental obligations in any way shape or form.

However, the law has stepped in in many areas, not the least is to say that I am no longer free to plan my career.

Going back to school would mean reduced support for the kids for a few years, and most likely after that, increased support. And it would mean the kids have a parent in a more satisfied job. Changing careers would mean the same thing.

he also complains that his former spouse didn't get his permission to do the same thing. You are a liar. Where did I say that?

What I did complain about is that my ex, under color of law, unilaterally decided to move 1000 miles away, with the kids.

The fact is, that even if I lose my job, I am still on the hook for the custody support unless I go back to court. The fact is that if jobs are moving out of the geographical area, and I am forced to change careers, I am still on the hook for the prior custody support, and I can be taken to court and told to find a new version of the now non-existent job.

The fact is, that if I use my experience and expertise and degrees and want to found a new company, I cannot do so. Even if peers with commensurate skills are able to do so. Even when it is demonstrable that this would mean reduced support and not no support for my kids. Even when it is demonstrable that my kids "income" would still be far far far above the poverty level.

The various states have just decided that the kids shouldn't suffer excessively. That is why child support payments are painfully high. Child support payments have almost nothing to do with the actual costs of raising the kids. They are almost completely based on percentages of wages with no examination of the actual expenditures of any party.

And if you had paid attention during those 20 years instead of just taking your clients money and serving them ill, you would know that everything I say is true and would not now be lying.

All I am saying is that in a world of no-fault divorces, there should be a presumption of 50/50 joint physical and joint legal custody.

Once the kid is born that kid is the central responsiblity for both parents. The sooner folks like Jerry and Grape realize it the better our society. It is clear to anyone that comes n here, that we clearly understand this and would not want it any other way.

Posted by: jerry on January 28, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Clarification: when I wrote "found a new company" that is found as in foundry, as in "form a new company"

Wager: $10 bucks says Ron Byers never was a practicing lawyer in family law.

Posted by: jerry on January 28, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry, I'll take that bet. You want to bet $1000? How about a million? It is a sucker bet for you and a sure thing for me. I burnt out doing divorces. I swore I would never do another. Now my partner handles all of them.

"All I am saying is that in a world of no-fault divorces, there should be a presumption of 50/50 joint physical and joint legal custody."

The idea of joint physical custody has been around for years and years. Activists have pushed it with various degrees of success in state legislatures across the country. The judges I know have nearly universally concluded that a pure 50/50 division of custody doesn't work in real life. Kids need to feel grounded in a place. As to joint legal custody, that is the norm in my state.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

If the real goal is to increase the rate at which child support is paid, then a better approach is to look to Wisconsin where we've experimented with the full pass through. In most states, wellfare recipients are forced to use child support payments either in part or in full, to pay the state back for the wellfare payments. In Wisconsin, the wellfare recipients are allowed to keep all of the child support payments. This results in an incentive for non-custodial parents to pay because they know that their children will actually benefit from their payments. This policy is cheap and effective. The state isn't actually losing any money out of this approach because the non-custodial parents aren't paying in states that don't have the pass-through.

Posted by: Brendon on January 28, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"the majority of divorces are filed by the women, the majority of custody goes to the women, and the majority of support goes to the women. Yet you proceed to claim that I am a pathetic deadbeat dad whining about my lifestyle choice."

While your facts are right, what you overlook is that child support doesn't start until a court orders it. Mom, who is often left caring for the kids, needs that child support. Dad, who has often left home, doesn't have an incentive until the court enters an order. If many dad's weren't pathetic deadbeat dads we wouldn't need to spend billions on child support enforcement. Thousands of men wouldn't go to jail each year or have their checks garnished. I don't know if you are a deadbeat dad or not. You sure sound like one, and you sure sound like you want the world to feel sorry for you.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ron as you know, the majority of the time, Dad doesn't leave home, but has been kicked out of the home. Child Support is required from the date of separation, and of course fathers have an incentive to pay support for their kids.

Ron you claim to be a lawyer, you are woefully ignorant on the facts, and you still just want to flame one particular gender in this.

I don't know if you are a crappy lawyer or not. You sure sound like one, and you sure sound like you want the world to feel sorry for you.

Posted by: jerry on January 28, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, got a story for you on this one. Back in the 80s I was a consultant to human services agencies and participated in and EPLN project (Electronic Parent Locator Network) that sought to improve the capability of public child welfare agencies in tracking down delinquent parents (mostly Dads, of course).

Well, it was a fun and very much worthwhile project. Eight states participated in this demonstration project, mostly funded by federal R&D money. It was exciting to improve the lot of families who truly needed support.

But guess what happened during the second year of the project? Despite the fact that the participating states were very happy with the progress being made, the contract to provide technical assistance to the project was stolen from my company by a behind the scenes political maneuver orchestrated by the Republican governor of South Carolina and a much bigger company CSX.

Oh yes, railroad companies knew a lot about human services and computer software technology back in those days. It had nothing to do with political connections. If you dont believe me, just ask the guy who was the head of CSX back in those days, none other than Jack Snow, todays Treasury Secretary.

Yep, the distribution of federal R&D suddenly became very weird during the 80s.

And its nice to know that Republican are still improving the delivery of services.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 28, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Jerry you can insult me all you want, but you are just flat wrong on the facts. While theoretically child support is supposed to start on separation as a practical matter it doesn't really start until there is an order. Depending on your state the order can be entered by child support enforcement, the domestic relations judge or if there is abuse the judge handling adult abuse. That is why moms file more often than dads. Just what incentive does Dad have to file and have an order entered? He would just as soon leave his kid bread crumbs and teddy bears.

Posted by: Ron byers on January 28, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK
Truth is the majority of custody goes to the mother.

Last I saw statistics, while that was true overall, it was not true in a majority of cases in which custody was contested; in those, the majority went to the men.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 28, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm . . . Ron? You're starting to rant there.

I think Jerry is right to this extent: Most parents paying child support are men, because most parents with physical custody are women. Most people with child support resonsibilities meet them. Changing careers, especially if it means a drop in pay, is made extraordinarily difficult if you are paying child support, whereas if you wanted to quit Wall Street and go to art school when you were still married, no one could stop you. Child support is pegged not to what children actually need, but to what the non-custodial parent is perceived to be capable of paying, which is silly. (I'm thinking of Barry and Sun Bonds' disputes of a few years back there is no way any child needs what she was trying to get in the way of child support, and the only possible explanation is that she felt that, having once married big money, she had a permanent right to it.) And non-custodial parents who have to fly a thousand miles or so every time they want to see their kids do kind of put the whole "how many counties in South Dakota contain an abortion clinic?" business in perspective. Most people want to see their kids more often than they need an abortion, and the nearest clinic is more often than not closer than, say, the other side of the country.

In short, I think non-custodial parents have plenty justly to complain of, and you're not exactly helpful. "That is why moms file more often than dads. Just what incentive does Dad have to file and have an order entered? He would just as soon leave his kid bread crumbs and teddy bears." Are you even listening to yourself?

Posted by: waterfowl on January 28, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

jerry on January 28, 2006 at 2:25 PM:

Wager: $10 bucks says Ron Byers never was a practicing lawyer in family law.

And I'll add another $10 that Ron Byers Who Sucks Ass has never been through a divorce of his own...I'll add another $1 that he never had children of his own either...

Will the Ass-Sucking of Ron Byers nerver cease? More of Ron Byers, The Man Who Sucked Ass:

Jerry can get a second job to support his life style choice.

Then Jerry would never get to see his kids at all, now would he? Do you actually think about what you are saying before you proceed to Suck Ass, Ron Byers?

I did domestic relations law for about 20 years.

And apparently learned nothing about people the entire time.

A long time ago I grew tired of men like...Grape...claiming victim status.

And at what point in this conversation have I claimed victim or any other status? Your overuse of sweeping generalizations combined with willful ignorance really Sucks Ass, Ron Byers.

Children are not a lifestyle accessory.

I don't think that any of the commenters here ever said or inferred that, Ron Byers Who Sucks Ass. You're the only one who wrote about how single parents should drop their kids off at the pound and have them put to sleep...That's sick, wrong, and Sucks Ass in a major way.

Once the kid is born that kid is the central responsiblity for both parents.

No shit, O Master of the Rectal Pucker-Up.

The sooner folks like Jerry and Grape realize it the better our society.

And the sooner that you drop your arrogant holier-than-thou attitude and stop mainlining those Leave It To Beaver episodes, the less Ass you will end up Sucking, Ron Byers...You know nothing about the particulars of my situation, yet you sit back and take potshots instead of approaching the this issue with compassion.

You really do Suck Ass, Ron Byers...

You should have thought about the long term sustainablity of your marriage before you got her pregnant. If either of you weren't willing to be faithful, you should have used birth control.

We did for the first five years, and then tried for over two years before little_grape popped out...Is seven years enough time to test the 'sustainablity of your marriage' before having a child, or does one have to wait longer?

...people of all political and religious stripes are becoming more and more judgmental on this issue.

Then it's an example of gross hypocrisy, considering that divorce rates among conservative Christians are significently higher than for other faith groups, as well as for Atheists and Agnostics.

It's easy to be judgemental when you don't think an issue applies to you. But when it does, your perspective on the issue changes a bit.

We are sick and tired of cleaning up your mess.

'We'? Is your Ass Sucking a causative factor in your schizophrenia or your multiple personality disorder?...As for making a mess, about the only mess around the grape_house is in the litter box, which I don't blame you for not wanting to clean up.

The judges I know have nearly universally concluded that a pure 50/50 division of custody doesn't work in real life.

It worked for us, until little_grape went to school in the grape_ex's district...my time is slightly reduced, but like I said earlier, I got handed a situation that I have to make the best of for the sake of my little_grape.

However, 50/50 should be started at as a baseline, then modified by factors such as what school district the child will be attending, how long the child has lived in the same area, and other things that affect the amount of time a parent can spend with their child.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 28, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Waterfowl

I am ranting. I am passionate. I just think guys like grape and Jerry want us to pick up after them.

You are wrong. The courts in most states have worked long and hard to establish presumed child support amounts. You are also wrong if you think divorce doesn't drop many, many kids into poverty.

As to the school thing, remember when I told you that living expenses go up for the entire family unit after any any divorce--two rents, two utilities, all that. Look at it this way, Jerry is spending his college money on his batchelor pad.

I know I am getting to Grape. He just can't stop calling me names.

I'll stop ranting. He won't stop calling names.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 29, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Why is it that liberals, those who espouse to be the most ardent defenders of equal rights, are so often on the wrong side of the child custody/child support issue. I've read this entire thread and it is literally filled with sexist remarks about men and fathers. Fathers abandoning kids, fathers leaving bread crumbs and teddy bears, whining fathers, angry southern white fathers, abusive fathers, etc...

HOW ABOUT GOOD DECENT FATHERS WHO LOVE THEIR CHILDREN AND SIMPLY WANT TO BE A PARENT TO THEM?

All this talk about no-fault divorce, personal responsibility to stay married, ass sucking, etc... is beside the point. Divorce happens...all the time. We can debate why and how to fix that another time. The bottom line is that children need both parents after divorce. Child custody laws in most states favor one parent over the other. They create a financial incentive to engage in a custody battle by awarding the child and an arbitrary dollar amount to one parent over another. Most often this is the mother with the father left to paying the bill and getting the kids every other weekend. For the father to get even close to 50/50 access to his kids, he must engage in a long and costly court battle. This is where the divorce lawyers rake it in so why would they want to change this? Guys like Ron Byers have built their retirement on this system. Why would he want to bite the hand that feeds him? Follow the money to understand this issue.

It's simple: After divorce (regardless of fault), parents should begin with presumed 50/50 custody and support (UNLESS - there is a history of abuse that would endanger the child). Ron can point to "most of the judges he knows" or try to belittle the joint custody arrangement all he wants but again, why trust someone who has made his living off the system as it now stands. The American Psychological Association has endorsed joint custody as have "most family therapists that I know". http://www.apa.org/releases/custody2.html

Secondly, child support calculations that are arbitrarily based as a percentage of the current earnings of one parent get it wrong. There are far better ways to calculate child support than % of obligor. Calculations should include the ability of both parents to pay, the acutal costs of the child, the amount of time each parent has the child and any other extenuating circumstances. Some states are closer than others.

Now I must end this rant as my beautiful two year old daughter has just awaken and is asking for her breakfast and a diaper change. Hmmmm....I wonder if I can find the milk and diapers being a father and all...

Posted by: Todd Martin on January 29, 2006 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Todd,

Thank you for that url to the APA paper. I think that will be very helpful in my upcoming custody battle.

Enjoy your morning with your daughter,

Posted by: jerry on January 29, 2006 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers, with another Ass-Suck:

I just think guys like grape and Jerry want us to pick up after them.

Then you need to stop thinking for a bit and give your remaining brain cell a moment to recoup...Apparently it's malfunctioning...

I know I am getting to Grape.

Heh. Don't flatter yourself. Takes a lot more than some jackass saying stupid shit on a blog to upset me.

He just can't stop calling me names.

Two reasons: 1) It's great fun, and 2) You deserve to be mocked for some of the hateful crap you've posted in this thread.

I'll stop ranting.

Sure you will.

He won't stop calling names.

"MAAAA! He's picking on me again!...Make 'em stop picking on me, ma!"

Grow up. Or keep on Sucking Ass. Your choice.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 29, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Well said, Todd Martin...

Posted by: grape_crush on January 29, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Jerry is correct about most of what he says. The divorce lawyers hate a presumption of 50-50 custody because it reduces litigation, reduces the justification for child support, and reduces the amount of money that divorce lawyers can make.

50-50 custody does work. I've made it work myself, and I've seen it work in other family. Any divorce lawyer who says that 50-50 custody does not work is just lying to earn more fees.

Posted by: George on January 30, 2006 at 4:07 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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