Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The joy of child support

(disclaimer: I am not talking about the men who support their children here, just the ones who play games and become toddler-like when faced with having to pay child support.)
"Male incomes rise by a third after a split, while women are worse off and can struggle for years.

Divorce makes men - and particularly fathers - significantly richer. When a father separates from the mother of his children, according to new research, his available income increases by around one third. Women, in contrast, suffer severe financial penalties. Regardless of whether she has children, the average woman's income falls by more than a fifth and remains low for many years."

So why is it that guidelines for child support remain low? If the research shows that men's incomes rise, if we know as a culture that there is still a pay gap between women and men, why are men not paying child support?
I look at my circle of friends and the men I know. My women friends have exes who try everything they can to wiggle out of child support. The ones that are most laughable are the men who spend thousands in court to prove how they are incapable of paying child support and other expenses. Family court often participates in this fiasco, especially when a man's income falls outside the guidelines. A very rich man can get away with paying very little child support and create a huge gap in lifestyle for his children between mom's house and dad's house.
And many men deliberately do that, since our culture at large has values related to materialism and not quality of life or quality of relationship. It allows a man to use money to look good instead of actually demonstrate good character, and sets up a deliberate power imbalance in which he can use the situation he has created to look like a good father by denigrating his children's mother.
My sister in this has written here about the whole matter.

Given the staggering amount of back child support that is owed, there is only one explanation. We are not expecting men to grow up and take responsibility. Is it because we don't smile at them and praise and coo and coddle their fragile egos that they evade responsibility? No. It is because they CHOOSE not to grow up.
I have no tolerance for men who cry "poor" when they come and go in work as they please, and make their ambition bullying instead of their children's quality of life. It's a lie. These are the users who conflate fathering with making a child's mother look bad and won't step up to the plate to financially support and fully be a father to their children. This is the farthest thing from fathering that there is. These men are not the kind of fathers who hold the bigger picture of their children's lives, and who make sure their life is good no matter where they are. I am stating the obvious here, but these men are just not caring for or about their children.

Consider some of the men I've met along the way. The man whose wife cheated on him but who made sure he took on extra debt and responsibilities to help his child. The man who continues to pay for his ex's mortgage, above and beyond what he would be "required" to pay, in order to give his daughter a happy life. The men all along the way who are angry and bitter over their divorce and how they've been hurt, but still maintain that supporting their children is important and do everything in their power to give to their children financially, and to work with their children's mother to make sure the kids are taken care of.
These men are respectable. They understand that if you support a child's mother, you set an example of the worth of a woman (that she should be treated with respect) and the worth of a man (that he is capable of support, overcoming anger, and altruism). Daughters and sons see this and take it in. Men who use the court system out of a financial power imbalance to retaliate and punish their ex for lack of automatic compliance with their wishes, men who refuse to pay anything extra, men who cry poor...these men are not thinking about their children. They are not even thinking. Men who use attorneys who would most certainly be happy if your children had nothing to eat at your house. Men who use their own resources or their family's resources to continue to bully their ex and spend way more money on litigation to prove they cannot pay child support than actually paying child support would cost.
Yes. Men actually spend money to prove that they don't have any money so they don't have to support their children. Logical, right?


Then there is the question of race. I heard a story that angered me to no end, where a black man was unfairly jailed for failure to pay child support, or being in arrears, and there was a technical mistake. No matter. He was jailed. A white man can use sophisticated methods to wiggle out of child support, but this would not work for a black man. The hunger for some people to find and blame a scapegoat is evil, just plain evil.
Doesn't anyone stop to confront and question a man who can afford expensive housing, new cars, excessive and long litigation, multiple vacations but not child support? Doesn't anyone wonder why he gets off barely working, living off his family's money, or why it is acceptable for him to hide money? Doesn't anyone wonder how and why a woman can be expected to hold down multiple jobs, go to school, and do the large majority of the parenting work while a man is not held to those same standards? Is this ALL we expect from men? For them to be justified losers? For their selfishness to know no boundaries?

The other thing that cracks me up is often these men, monumentally drunk on projection, will accuse the woman of not supporting their children. The projection is so clear, so cut-and-dried, and he doesn't see it because that is the nature of projection. It is a heady drug, a blinding anesthetic, and it somehow makes him feel better.
What about 50/50 time and equal pay? If there was a reasonably equal marriage and that sense of mutual participation in equality and support can be carried into the divorce, then I am all for it. I think those are the couples that have basic good will towards each other and can make it work. But it should be part of a bigger picture of structuring the children's lives to be supported and loved, not as a way for an uninvolved dad to become interested in parenting so he can get out of child support, or as a way for him to denigrate his children's mother. There is no excuse for a man who uses the legal system to bully the mother of his children and continue the pattern of abuse set forth in their marriage. And the legal system doesn't care. People look at me like I have two heads when I tell them the sad reality of family court. It is NO PLACE to take the lives of your children. PARENTS should be making decisions for their children, and only people who have no capacity for problem-solving, empathy, or cooperation use family court as a bludgeon and to get their way. I'm not talking about the ones who need protection from a hitter or stalker or sexual abuser. I'm talking about the petty, conflict-addicted, retaliatory and entitled ones.

Wake up, world. My blog is small and not widely read, so no matter how many articles are published or what the research says, no matter how may people complain and bring the truth to light and try to make changes, men are still going to be bullies, think small and limit themselves, and try to wiggle out of personal duty and responsibility. Start calling it what it is: abuse. It is financially abusive to mothers and children. It is abusive because repeated litigation and child support evasion is based on the principles all abuse is based on: entitlement and exploitation. Someone has to take care of the kids, and it isn't going to be him, at least not where he disagrees.
Most people don't give a shit if kids are being child-supported or not. They don't give a shit that the men don't give a shit and will pretend right along with them. They turn a blind eye to abuses of every kind. But they should care. The underlying message is that men are incapable, blind, baby hamsters (think "You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man"), entitled to receive the best treatment their cages can afford.
Please, world. Give us more men that do not disappoint us, but that we can believe in and count on to be strong and supportive.

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