This scornful word is often used by women towards men who do not uphold their legal responsibility of supporting their children. However, how many of us can actually say we understand the meaning or origin of the awful term? Again, the derogatory title comes with the attached connotations drawing to mind images of fathers who abandon responsibility to their kids and don’t care about them at all. That is not usually the case.
The legal definition defines deadbeat parents as “parents of either gender who have freely chosen not to be supportive parents or who do not pay their child support obligations.” USLegal.com goes on to say “Deadbeat dad and deadbeat mom are commonly used by child support agencies to refer to men and women who have fathered and mothered a child but are unwilling to pay child support ordered by a family court or statutory agency.”However, the label has become so generalized that the “freely chosen” aspect in the first part of the definition is too often forgotten.
Most people would be surprised to learn that the major reason most fathers don’t pay their child support is because they simply cannot afford the child support amount. Look at the statistics, 66 percent of all child support not paid by fathers is due to an inability to come up with the money, calling all the dads who miss payments “deadbeats” simply isn’t fair.
While practicing family law, I have encountered many men who are great dads, love their children, play a significant role in their lives but simply cannot afford what the court orders them to pay for their child or children.However, because of the way custody orders often work out, many of these fathers rarely get the opportunity to see their children while some don’t get to see them at all. Despite how they may feel, these loving fathers are stigmatized as deadbeats — regardless of why they missed the payments.
Another problem is the harsh laws and punishments enacted on those unable to come up with the money. If a father is behind on his payments, the state or child support agencies will do anything in their power to collect what is owed, including garnishing wages, intercepting their income tax refund, revoking their passport or suspending their driver’s license.
If you really fall behind on child support payments, chances are you will end up in Jail. Lacking the money to pay child support all but guarantees they cannot afford legal counsel on their own, leaving them to the whim of an unrelenting court system that looks down on them as horrible people and essentially ensures punishment. This vicious treatment creates a modern-day debtor’s prison for destitute fathers who are more often than not perfectly willing to pay their support if they had sufficient funds.
No matter how they try, broke fathers are not able to get back on their feet because the state continues to sweep their legs out from under them. Society and the courts scrutinize them as “deadbeats” and unloving fathers who have essentially abandoned taking care of their children. However, it is frequently the unforgiving system itself that led them to their predicament in the first place.
If you find that you are having trouble paying OR receiving child support, contact us for a free consultation: (781) 629-5147/ Info@occenalaw.com.