Millions of dads aren’t paying their court-ordered child support. Why not? Listening to friends that are non-custodial dads, and to the mothers they leave behind with their kids, I notice that a very few answers to this question keep coming up time after time. But are they really thinking about their reasons? Let’s see how many of them really hold up under scrutiny…
“I bet my ex is spending that money on herself instead of the kids.”
Maybe she is. The sad reality is that some mothers really are spending money meant for their kids on stuff for themselves. Some states are distributing child support payments by debit card, which gives them the ability to track where the money is being spent, but as far as I know, no state is releasing that data to the fathers…yet. Until they do, it’s the honor system and yes, some people don’t have as much honor as you’d like them to have. (Maybe that’s why you’re not together anymore?) But, pay attention to your kids. If they’re routinely coming to visits with you undernourished or complaining that mommy’s house is too cold, you may be able to challenge whether that money is truly being spent taking care of them. The court probably won’t change the amount, but it is possible to appoint someone else to handle the children’s financial matters.
“The court set it too high, kids can’t cost that much.”
You have no idea how much kids really cost, do you? I’ve heard this excuse from guys having as little as $40 taken for child support each week. That’s $160 a month. For everything. The major stuff is obvious: food, clothing, shelter costs (housing and utilities), transportation, and medical care. Now remember the incidentals that add up: laundry soap, crayons, toothbrushes, a tricycle, a Christmas tree, and hundreds of other things over the years that you can’t predict right now, but that you know your children deserve. Do you think you could buy all that stuff with $160 a month?? Even if you paid $500 a month, that would be just $6,000 a year. That’s well below poverty level. Is that the life you want for your kids?
“My ex should get a job.”
She does have a job. She’s a Mother. It’s one of the most important jobs in the world. And if she gets a different job, then someone else will have to take over the job of raising your children. Is that what you really want? Isn’t it bad enough that your children don’t have a full-time Dad? Do you want to deprive them of a full-time Mom too? And who’s going to pay for the childcare that will be necessary while you and your children’s mother are both at outside-the-home jobs?
“I’m not paying for a kid I don’t get to see.”
The law says that child support and visitation are two separate matters. If you don’t get to see your kids, (or don’t see them as often as you’d like), because of your choice, their choice, or the court’s decision, it has no effect on your responsibility to pay child support. Think about this: If you still lived with your kids, but you had a job that kept you away from them frequently (trucker, overseas military, etc.) would you give them less financial support just because you didn’t spend much time with them? Or, think of it this way: if you don’t drive your car for a month, would the bank tell you not to pay your car-loan for that month? No, of course not. They expect you to pay every month for the entire term you agreed to, regardless of how much use you get out of it. Think of parenthood as a 18-year-long monthly commitment. Your kids are worth it.
The bottom line here is that when you don’t pay child support you shortchange your kids. No excuse is good enough to cause that to happen. They’re depending on you. Don’t let them down.