In an entry at his Your Black World blog, Dr. Boyce Watkins examines the perilous impact on families when fathers fail to pay child support. Watkins says that the child-support system is in serious need of reform and lists a series of suggestions, including greater accountability for how the money is spent.
In Atlanta over the holiday weekend, there were hundreds of parents sent to jail for non-payment of child support. While I don’t entirely oppose the idea of sending the law after parents who don’t pay, I’m not quite sure how putting parents in jail is going to help the child. Also, the law is quick to lock a man up for non-payment of child support, but they are not so interested in using their resources to help that father spend time with his kids.
I am an 18-year veteran of the child support system, and I’ve also taken responsibility for children who’ve been financially abandoned by their dads. Additionally, my own biological father never paid a penny in child support to my knowledge, so I was also a victim of a dead beat dad as well. So, I understand the frustrations of losing parental rights, and I also understand why dead beat dads need to be dealt with. The issue is a complex one, but one thing that is abundantly clear is that the child support system, in its current form, is more likely to destroy a family than to sustain it.
Here are some things that need to be changed about the child support system:
1) Greater accountability on where the money is spent: There is nothing more frustrating for a non-custodial parent than to pay hundreds (or even thousands) in child support, only to see that their child isn’t getting access to the money. I know this reality from experience, and I’ve also heard from countless dads (and moms) who’ve taken care of their responsibilities, only to have their child calling to request money for things they can’t afford.
Read Dr. Boyce Watkins’ entire blog entry at Your Black World.