For many Black men in this country, child support is an every day reality. However, with the way things are, the question to be, has the child support system become more of a business than a true form of support for the child? Some would say the system is set up in a way that it makes it harder for both parents to see eye to eye. The child support system as we know it today has lots of room for improvement. And it’s time those cracks in the foundation are looked into.
Most men will have a completely different view of the system than women will. The men view the child support as another form of the justice system because all too often that becomes the result, the equivalent to prison time. I find that many men want to do the right thing but the woman just wants that check sometimes without even looking at the entire picture. In many cases, that same woman will somehow try to manage to make a living solely on the child support. Then the system will tell the woman they will help them out but you have to put your child’s father on child support. This is also a way to keep the father out of the home, which creates a host of issues with the child.
However, there is always an exception to the rule; the few bad apples ruin the whole barrel, because those are the men that make most women think all men will act like the deadbeat dad who does not want to do the right thing. In addition, all too often that stereotype spills over in the child support system from the courts down to the caseworkers. The men who are paying their support on time and going beyond just paying child support are sometimes the first ones getting locked up when they end up in a circumstance where they cannot meet their obligation. If the man who is always on time loses his job and fails to pay, he is easier to find than the deadbeat father, which lands him in jail faster. Now that that father is in jail, he cannot pay, he cannot work and he now has to tell future employers he has been arrested, thus hurting his chances at future employment.
How can this system, as we know it be fixed? There are some very basic and easy ways to curb the ongoing problem with child support. First, we need to have a very real conversation about child support. When a woman or man for that matter petitions the court for a child support order instead of the court being the very first options, we should let the parents try to come to an amicable solution for both parties. If there is, an agreement reached between them that agreement should be signed by both parents and then upheld by the court. Second, if the mother is withholding visitation because of a grudge or anger, both parents should sit with mediation to get clarity and understand what is in the best interest of the child. Third, both parents should be enrolled in parenting and life skills workshops to make them further understand this is about the child and not them.
I think that if the system was geared more towards what is in the best interest of the child and not just make the noncustodial parent pay, the system would work for all involved. The child is the most important part of this equation it should never be left into the hands of a judge how a mother and father are to raise their child or children. Mothers and fathers need to understand that what they think about each other is no longer important. In addition, the system should not allow some mothers to abuse the system for their own financial gain.
The system should also recognize that some fathers are just not going to do the right thing and that mother should not have to live in the courthouse just to get what that child deserves. Moreover, in those cases there should be counseling provided for the child’s mental state and for the mother to help that child understand that it is not theirs or the mother’s fault that the father refuses to be a part of their life.
It’s obviously complicated. But we can do better than what’s in place.