Have you ever read a story in the media that labels a noncustodial parent as a “deadbeat parent”? This term is thrown around — perhaps too liberally — to describe parents that have fallen behind on their child support payments.
While this term has worked its way firmly into the lexicon of divorce, perhaps we should step back and think about how child support is used in divorce and the effects it could have on children.
Many custodial parents go through a divorce and immediately want to know how much they will be paid in child support. The noncustodial parent is often worried more about how often he or she will be able to see his or her child. Through this tie, custodial parents will often use visitation as leverage to force payment out of the noncustodial parent. If that parent doesn’t pay up, they don’t get to see their child. This can be a harmful game to play, especially for the children involved.
Parents must ask themselves if fighting through the courts for unpaid child support is worth the consequences. While child support monies is important for custodial parents and their children, fighting for it could come at a cost. Noncustodial parents, many of which do not have the ability to pay, can be jailed or punished for not holding up their end of the bargain. Imagine a child’s reaction to the fact that their parent has been thrown in jail or labeled a “deadbeat” simply because they cannot pay child support.
Some parents enjoy the fact that their former significant other is punished for their inability to pay child support. It is almost like a form of revenge. However, revenge is not something that will please a child — usually, they just want to be in a situation where their parents are happy and healthy.
Noncustodial parents who can’t make child support payments can make a request to have their payments modified. At the end of the day, paying something is better than nothing at all.
Source: Huffington Post, “Deadbeat Parents? State-Mandated Child Support Hurts The Ones It’s Supposed To Help,” Ellen Kellner, March 15, 2013