One year ago today, singer Sean Levert died in jail while being held for felony non-payment of child support, and while the jail has changed its policies about dispensing meds to prisoners, there has been no talk of taking a closer look at the laws that put deadbeat parents in jail. Jailing doesn't work: It's expensive and not cost-effective. Sean Levert should not have been in jail for non-payment of support and going forward there have to be some options to deal with this.
This isn’t a conversation about whether or not men and women should pay child support: That’s a no-brainer. I’m not writing about the parents that can and don’t. I’m writing about the ones that can’t. Jailing deadbeats doesn’t discourage scofflaws or deflate the debt. There are too many problems with the child support system as it stands. No parental rights come with payment, and the custodial parent has no responsibility to allow contact or visitation, and they dont have to work to fill in the gaps in their household income. Men know so little about their rights that there's room for scam, fraud and other chicanery.
Also, it often costs more than what the average deadbeat owes to put them in jail. I posed the framework for the ultimate child support solution on my personal blog and was roundly criticized. Yet, a year later, no one has tabled any better ideas.
I know — “if you don’t want babies, make sure you wear a condom.” Thanks for that, Moral Oral – I’m sure that all your people were born in a manger with three wise men looking on. But for the rest of us, some who have babies out of wedlock (gasp!) have disintegrating marriages that produce kids (double gasp!) or fall into many of the sub-categories in between, what to do?
Of course, you gotta take care of your kids. But shouldn’t that responsibility come with rights as well? Are there any options for deadbeat parents who are unable to pay support besides jail?
Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper