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Economy gives some dads a bad rap

Shadows of mother with children.

TEXT OF STORY

Stacey Vanek-Smith: It seems like the recession and the unemployment rate are hitting every aspect of life these days. Divorce is no exception. As more parents feel a loss of income, many are asking family courts to adjust child support payments. The bad economy is also pushing some parents into payment delinquency, contributing to the problem of deadbeat dads.

From Boston, Monica Brady-Myerov reports.


Monica Brady-Myerov: When someone loses a job, the bills don't stop coming. Mortgage, car payments, health insurance and for some, child support. But Ned Holstein, president of Fathers and Families, a group that presents dads, says there's a big difference.

Ned Holstein: Everybody is struggling. But someone who has a child support order is the only person who's going to be put in jail, because they can't pay their debts.

That's why more parents who've lost their jobs are asking the courts to lower their child support payments. That's what's happening to Jim Feeney. He's a divorced father of four who lives on Cape Cod. Before he lost his job in January, he made about $85,000 a year. He's required to may $3,200 a month in child support and alimony. When he was laid off, he immediately asked the court if he could pay less.

Jim Feeney: First, I filed for unemployment, I filed for welfare, food stamps, because I had no income. I had no savings.

Feeney spoke about his case at a restaurant after his hearing, which he had to wait two and a half months for. The judge denied his request to lower his payments and after six months after not meeting them, Feeney was put in jail. After two days behind bars, he paid a $5,000 fine and was released. But his stint in jail didn't lower his child support obligations and the fines he's racking up because he's not paying.

Feeney: There's penalties to the state, there's penalties that go to my ex-wife, there's interest to the state, there's interest that goes to my ex-wife.

Feeney's former wife refused to comment for this story. But another ex-wife of another man who just lost his job does have something to say. She's Julie Baker, she's the primary care giver to two children, ages five and nine. Her ex was recently laid off.

Julie Baker: The first thing he said was, "I'll try to keep up the child support."

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Baker said her former husband has been a supportive dad who's always paid on time. But if the tables were turned:

Baker: If I lost my job, I can't say to the kids, "You know what? You can't have lunch today. You know what? I'm sorry that your shoes are too small."

And more out-of-work parents want to change their child support agreements. But just asking the court to lower your payments, because you lost your job, isn't always enough.

Divorce attorney B.J. Krintzman says the courts are slow moving.

B.J. Krintzman: They're not going to get very far if they go in that week and say, "I lost my job, so I can no longer pay." Usually there has to be some kind of period of time that's gone by, so the obligor has to show attempts to get a job.

Some judges are sympathetic and lower payments right away, because they know it's unlikely someone will get a new job quickly. But typically it takes six months for a judge to make a decision.

Holstein: And during those couple of months, you can be going broke in a hurry.

Ned Holstein of Fathers and Families.

Holstein: Then when you get the hearing, typically, the family court judges will not give you relief at the first hearing. They say, "Well, how do we know this is going to be long standing? You might get a job next week. Also, you've got some assets, you can pay it out of your assets. And so, I'll see you again in three more months."

But it's putting fathers who mean well and love their kids in jail, because they can't pay.

Krintzman: And this is not daddy jail; this is real jail.

But divorce attorney B.J. Krintzman says what ends up happening is dads borrow money from family and friends.

Krintzman: Usually it is very rare that someone stays in jail for 30 days. So they do find ways to find the money and pay up the back child support and get themselves out of jail.

And when they do get out of jail, they'll owe even more, because child support obligations don't stop while someone is behind bars.

In Boston, I'm Monica Brady-Myerov for Marketplace Money.

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Actually there is no mis-conception...the conception is valid. All this talk of independence tends to be merely that. One thing I have observed that I blame men for more than women is this acceptance of a womans shady past in comparison to that of a mans. This is a common obituary:

Sheila XXX died last night in her sleep. She was a warm and loving person who loved children and animals. She is survived by her first husband and their one child, some child she had with unknown father in 1984, her third and fourth husband, and her current "partner" Beth.

Women who are "bums" are beloved as "independent" and creative while men who are bums are treated like trash. What about equality? I'm 35 with an honorable discharge from the Marines in 1999 and a 4-year degree from the University of Washington in 2004...yet unemployed. That being said, I find it almost laughable when I run into some respected older women who have simply gone man to man for the last 20 plus years accomplishing nothing and now want to judge and criticize people on unemployment who've worked more in a year than they have in their whole life. I would respect the women who can go even 6 months without "getting into" another relationship but it's rare unless they are really over the hill. I had a girl I was dating back in 1998 say to me: "I need some time for myself." To which I replied: "What is his name and where did you meet him?" She then said: "How did you know?" I replied: "Your a woman under 40. You don't just end a relationship without another one in back-up or a guy by the name of 'Justin Case' waiting eagerly like an idiot."

Actually there is no mis-conception...the conception is valid. All this talk of independence tends to be merely that. One thing I have observed that I blame men for more than women is this acceptance of a womans shady past in comparison to that of a mans. This is a common obituary:

Sheila XXX died last night in her sleep. She was a warm and loving person who loved children and animals. She is survived by her first husband and their one child, some child she had with unknown father in 1984, her third and fourth husband, and her current "partner" Beth.

Women who are "bums" are beloved as "independent" and creative while men who are bums are treated like trash. What about equality? I'm 35 with an honorable discharge from the Marines in 1999 and a 4-year degree from the University of Washington in 2004...yet unemployed. That being said, I find it almost laughable when I run into some respected older women who have simply gone man to man for the last 20 plus years accomplishing nothing and now want to judge and criticize people on unemployment who've worked more in a year than they have in their whole life. I would respect the women who can go even 6 months without "getting into" another relationship but it's rare unless they are really over the hill. I had a girl I was dating back in 1998 say to me: "I need some time for myself." To which I replied: "What is his name and where did you meet him?" She then said: "How did you know?" I replied: "Your a woman under 40. You don't just end a relationship without another one in back-up or a guy by the name of 'Justin Case' waiting eagerly like an idiot."

Good decision! Women will make you regret the day your kid was ever born!!

This great story is over 2 years old, but continues to generate comments. Perhaps the best way to look at the issue is to start by understanding the financial and economic implications of the math behind the various support models. Here's an advanced calcultor for Michigan that explains far more than just the bottom line payment: www.childservicepolicies.com

I, the bitter infertile woman, often shake my head in sheer, unadulterated wonder at some of the women who are actually able to conceive. I wonder why them and not me?

I have a friend whose ex tricked him into getting her pregnant. Oh I know, I know, cue the "mothers" telling me off. "Well he should have done this, done that; kept it in his pants if he was not ready for the consequences; it takes two to tango, blah blah blah; all his fault, now he needs to accept the responsibility; deadbeat this, deadbeat that..." You know what? Here is my argument to that (and of course I expect mothers to discredit me here, being quite the entitled lot). Anyway, when two people who love each other make a monogamous commitment to one another, they tend to not use condoms; rather, the woman goes to the doctor and gets an I.U.D. or gets on the pill/shot. Hey, some women even have their tubes tied, but as there IS a way to verify that, I will not bring it into my argument. Anyway, I know of a disturbingly large amount of women who intentionally got themselves pregnant by "taking the pill," if you know what I mean (for those who did not catch on, the quotation marks indicate a form of sarcasm here). Or "getting the shot." Some women even cheek the pill when their partner wants to watch them take it for verification purposes, or find some other way to deceive him. Women can get creative because, as we have established, women are manipulative and spoiled, and will do whatever they can in order to get what they want, regardless of who has to go down in the process. Example: the woman receiving 3.5K from her ex who refuses to comment. I wonder why? What is she afraid of, other than being called out for being so heartless and insensitive?

No matter how badly you beg to disagree with me regarding this point, at least, I am right. End of story. The child support system will never be fair, just, and right until the right to choose lies with both parties. Back to the friend to whom I gave mention earlier, when he found out that she was pregnant, he begged her, pleaded with her, even fell to his knees in tears wanting her to terminate the pregnancy, or if she did not want to terminate, then adopt the child out to a family who (alike myself and my husband) is unable to have children. What did she do? She told him too bad. If he did not want to stay with her and be a father to their ill-conceived child, then she would go after him for every last dime that she could get from him. She even mentioned alimony, but thank God that they were not married. Remember, ladies, this is a woman who "forgot to get her shot," yet forged medical confirmation that she had gotten it using a former medical note and a scanner/Microsoft Word. It turns out that she had done that a few times until she got what she wanted. Yes, being an intelligent guy, he always wanted to make sure that she had had her shot, but there is only so much that a guy can do; better yet, there is only so much that he should HAVE to do. What does that say about these women, and why are we not frowning at their conduct? If you want to point fingers at "deadbeats," then let's begin with these "deadbeat" sorry excuses for human beings.

Now I know that some of you will say that he should have gone to the office with her to get it, but he works full-time and, at the time, was going to school (she has effectively ruined that for him for now). But, again, should a man really have to think that way? Have to all but stalk her to make sure that she is not lying? And again, what does that say about these women? Why do we never look at them in disgust like we do at the fathers who did not want to become fathers? Hey, maybe they wanted to wait until they were more stable and able to better provide for their children, or maybe they wanted to have their first child with someone whom they were sure that they were in love with, but now that first child, that special moment, was robbed from both him and his true soul mate, who can now never have that with him because of some selfish, spoiled woman (I have a girlfriend who got with a man in such a situation). Relationships are liabilities anymore, I swear.

So you tell me this. How is it right that the woman gets to decide whether or not she wants to become a mother, but the man does not get to decide whether or not he wants to become a father? How is it right that people like my friend, who wanted to go to medical school when he got out of university, can have their dreams and aspirations shattered by one BFP (big fat positive in the TTC community), yet the woman can decide both of their futures for them? Maybe she will give birth and go to school later if she wants to, or hey, maybe she will just drop out and go for indefinite child support/alimony/welfare. If you live in Oregon, then that is the ticket to the good life. Welfare moms here drive better cars than some people with decent jobs. Anyway, either way, the man gets screwed and has no say in his fate whatsoever. His only decision from then on is, "Will I fork over my hard-earned money to the witch, or risk going to jail?"

I hate it. It is the stupidest thing that I have ever heard of in my twenty-seven years of life, other than drugs and other crimes, of course; however, in my opinion, this is a crime against morals.

Having said all of this, of course I believe that when two people CONSCIOUSLY - operative word here, consciously - decide to bring a child into this world together, after having discussed it, and should they later split up, then child support should be due. But again, how is it fair that women have so much power whilst men are rendered completely helpless only because the baby is not in their body? Women can dangle their pregnancies and children over a man's head and ruin him if they want to, and they are the only ones who have a choice in the matter. I could care less that it is "YOUR body." It is also "HIS life." If you are so desperate for money/children, then how about you wait until you are capable of doing it on your own, since you do not seem to care enough about your partner to consider his opinion?

My final say here... My husband and I have known each other since we were fifteen years old. We are more in love today than we were then, of course, but the mutual respect that we have for one another has always, always been the same. We make decisions together. We planned out our lives together. We decided, together, to begin TTC at the age of twenty-one years old, just a few years before we were due to enter grad school. We cried together at each pregnancy that we - "we" - lost, from number one until number seven, and we grieve together that we will never have biolgoical children (adoption is not for everyone). I will tell you this, ladies. We are a unit, and that is how it should be. I have always so desperately wanted to experience pregnancy, childbirth, and the feeling that comes from holding your child for the first time, knowing that it was out of such a union that said child, a product of pure love between two people, was born. But it was he who approached me first and asked me to give him a child. If he would not have wanted children, then I never would have tried anything underhanded to get myself pregnant, thus giving him a reason to resent both myself and our child. Never.

Again, I wonder at some of the people who are blessed with fertility. It blows my mind.

All your points are valid! The things women say to men wouldn't DARE hear it themselves!

I registered just to respond to you coreycat! I'm looking forward to your fall from grace, even though I won't be there to witness it, I know it's coming for your lack of empathy and compassion. The day is soon coming where you'll lose your good paying job and yes, you will have to tell your children "I'm sorry, we can't afford those shoes right now, I'm sorry its going to have to be ramen noodle soup tonight, I'm sorry, you'll have to quit your extra curricular activities, I can no longer afford to expend the gas!" sh&$ happens coreycat, and that you don't seem to grasp that, makes you the perfect candidate for sh$& to happen to!!!
In other news...as another poster said...mothers, PLEASE stop fighting bitterly to keep custody of your children only to complain about how bad having custody of your children is! Stop saying "it still costs to keep a household even when they visit the NCP, when you know the EXACT same phrase can be said for the father. In fact, I challenge you to come up with a phrase that you apply to yourself that can't be applied to the NCP! What's funny in all this...any money hungry woman in this forum complaining about the dead beat dad who dared to get laid off, would petition the court for an increase in support if she were to get laid off!!! HYPOCRITES!!!! God I'm amazed that the human race continues to perpetuate!!! If I were a man Id become gay, or completely hide my identity from any woman before having sex with her! Or get a vasectomy upon becoming sexually active!

For NUNYA36...I have accepted your challenge! The "phrase( or phrases) that I apply to myself that can't be applied to the NCP" is FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION( I don't have that luxury..I am a MOTHER). The second phrase is " Failure to PLAN IS planning to FAIL". Thank goodness MOM and POP didn't raise a wallflower. Its a good thing I have put away a lil nest egg for the future( after paying off the NCP's mountain of debt), paid down the mortgage and invested well so should I "FALL FROM GRACE" as you say..WELL I will have enough to live on(without a SNAP card or a DIME from the deadbeat)! Its a good thing my first job was @ McDonald's. The one near me is hiring. Its a good thing I am NOT too proud to do what I will have to do to take care of my RESPONSIBILITIES! BTW..Would you like FRIES with your order?

That's odd, previously you said you didn't have "much left over" and previously you were complaining that you didn't get money from your ex now your singing the typical woman song of "I don't need no man" which is it? You makin just enough to keep a roof over your head and food on the table? Or are you so well off that If you got laid off youve saved several months worth of mortgage, food, clothes etc, that you'll be needing no unployment benefits or welfare to get by? You need your ex's money? Or you dont? I'm not getting which point your tryin to prove!

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