Since the beginning of time, there have been children born out of wedlock. When children are born out of wedlock it is still the responsibility of both parents to contribute to the needs of a child both ethically and legally. However that is not happening much of the time in today’s world. When a child is not cared for by a parent, it “looks” bad on them to society. However since child support laws have been enacted, ethical reasons to take care of a child are now overpowered by legal reasons.
Now there are more and more parents being dubbed “deadbeats” for failure to take care of their children financially. Since the women’s movement there has been a social shift in the United States. Mathew Beach, a child support caseworker for Hamilton County, says “single parenting is skyrocketing, and with that so are the number of non-paying parents.” Mr. Beach also stated “the taxpayers are footing the bill for children who have irresponsible parents. Most of the children who do not receive support from both parents often times fall into the welfare system, which ultimately cost taxpayers millions of dollars every year.” Fortunately for the children with non-paying parents and taxpayers, laws have been established to help relieve some of the child support cases.
Child support laws go back to the 1970’s. According to Ohio Jobs and Family Services, “congress passed the Child Support Enforcement Program in 1975.” This program was started to make sure that both parents were paying for their children. The laws and regulations have continued since then. Even former President Bill Clinton got in on the search for deadbeat parents, according to CNN.com. The article quoted Mr. Clinton as saying, “One of the main reasons single mothers go on welfare is the fathers have failed to meet their responsibilities to their children.” He is also quoted as saying “One way or the other, people who don’t support their children will pay what hey must.”
People are starting to pay for not paying for their children but there is still more work to be done. There is progress being made everyday in our country in trying to collect what is owed to children. In 2001, the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that “child support collections hit over $18 billion in collections in the 2002 fiscal year.” Although several steps are being taken in collecting support there are still far more strives that have to be made.
Federal, state and local governments are all playing a part in helping to bring to justice deadbeat parents. Since child support laws and the deadbeat parent laws have come into play, it is making it more difficult to “run” if you owe child support. The federal government sets the standards for child support enforcement. It is then handed down to the state governments to send cases to appropriate local governments. The local governments within their offices do most of the work in locating the parent, establishing paternity, enforcement of child support, and modification of support. If a child support order is not followed the local governments begin the searching process. Several tactics have been put into place to track down deadbeats parents within the last few years. Branches of the government are now using social security numbers to search jobs, bank accounts, automobiles, and tax returns. They are now suspending licenses if you fall behind in child support. Deadbeat parents also can now be tracked down from state to state since federal and state regulations of child support have been established. In previous years it was almost impossible to find parents once they moved out of state. However they are working more and more to track down the deadbeat parent’s country wide. The federal government mandated that a country wide automated child tracking system be implemented. This new system is known as Bureau of Support Enforcement Tracking System (SETS). Although it may not be called the same thing in every state is consist of the same information. This automated system keeps track of non-paying parents, their addresses, employment, social security numbers, and any other information used in helping to locate deadbeat parents. This system makes it easier for the government to track down parent’s country wide. Although new mandates and regulations have been put into place, there are still many children not receiving child support. Mr. Beach said, “Our systems are very helpful tracking down people with jobs, cars, or any assets. But there is still one group of people that we are finding problems trying to track. These people have no jobs or assets and are more than likely not going to.”
If child support enforcement is to work, it needs to be developed in all aspects. If people are not or will not work it is useless to use a social security number to seize any assets. There needs to be a way to get children the support they need from both parents even if the deadbeat parent refuses to work. After all, this country’s moral view is that it is the right thing to do to take care of your children. An the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” should still hold true, but how far must people go in order to help raise these children.
There have been several different proposals in trying to find a way to have parents that refuse to work still pay the price for not caring for their children. One of these proposals is to use a system similar to the three strikes law in California. If a parent is 30 days or more behind in child support they will have an arrest warrant issued for them. Upon being arrested, the deadbeat parent would then go to a “jail” like facility where they would stay until a portion of their child support was paid. This would require them to obtain a job while they were in the facility. Once a portion of their support was paid they then would be released. If they failed to pay again a second time the same process would occur. However, upon the third time of falling behind in child support the deadbeat parent would be required to stay in the facility until all child support obligations have been met.
Although this plan sounds good on paper, there are drawbacks to even this. First of all to have someone in jail costs taxpayers money. There is also the problem of finding these people jobs once they are incarcerated. Jails are already overcrowded and if may not be worth the time or effort to put more non-violent offenders behind bars. Even though this plan would help the children, member of groups such as the Alliance for Non-Custodial Parents Rights (ANCPR) would more than likely disagree with such a proposal. This group is dedicated to fighting back against injustices regarding child support. According to Nicholas Riccardi, a staff writer for ANCPR, “we need to fight back the injustices of child support and our government.” In several entries on their website they talk about the unfair treatment of non-custodial parents. These comments range from parents both being able to afford it to disabilities issues. Even though there are exceptions to every case, no parent should fall behind in child support for long periods of time without an extenuating circumstance, because the only ones who get hurt are the children. According to Bruce Walker, DA council in Oklahoma, he makes an entry on the website that says “A large percentage of deadbeat dads are remarried and are supporting several step children and biological children from a second marriage.” This is understandable, but just because someone gets remarried does not mean that they should be exempt from taking care of responsibility for their children. If a person is going to have more children they should be able to support them. A child is not at fault of his parents. Mr. Walker also says that “many deadbeat parents are homeless, and even a greater percentage are poor.” Again that is understandable, but using a proposal like the “3 strikes” proposal would not only help the child but would also help the deadbeat parent obtain employment.
There will more than likely never be an easy solution to the issues this country faces with child support. However the new proposals help children with deadbeat parents have a better shot at life. The government is working hard to find answers in helping these children to obtain the financial support that they need, but it is becoming more difficult to find arguments that support proposal likes the 3 strikes proposal. Many times these proposals are being called illegal and against the laws of the Constitution. The most important people in this whole argument are the children. If they are not taken care