A Reality Check on Deadbeat Dads

Child support is a necessary component of any divorce settlement. We all agree
that children are the real victims in a divorce, and that any assistance the courts can
mandate to help these children is a good thing. What is not good, however, is mandating
unrealistic support payments from a father who cannot afford to pay them, and then
charging him interest when they are not paid.

Until someone invents a way to get blood from a turnip, an invention that would solve
a multitude of financial shortfalls, a more realistic standard has to be set. I serve as
President of the Fatherhood Educational Institute, a Chicago-based group that promotes
positive fatherhood involvement in poverty stricken communities. We educate these
fathers in parenting skills and teach them to assume responsibility. Their financial
support may be limited by the realities of their income, but we teach them to physically
and spiritually connect with their children and support them EMOTIONALLY. If a dad
is unable to pay a court-mandated fee, then there are a multitude of ways a sober dad can
help hands on: sharing a hobby, taking his kids to a park, joining a neighborhood group to
make sure his kids are safe, fixing a broken door or window in the house with his kids.
At the Fatherhood Educational Institute, we teach skills and ways for dads to
communicate with their kids and to spend positive time together. Is it not more important
that children have a father in their lives than a deadbeat dad in jail??

Cook County, IL Sheriff Tom Dart announced that his website will now post
photos of "deadbeat" dads, the same website that posts criminal warrants for serious
felons. What does this accomplish? These Illinois "mug shots" only result in making
victims out of the dads. Colonial Virginia miscreants were locked into pillories in the
town square for the purpose of humiliation. Debtors prison in 19th century England
incarcerated those too poor to pay, succeeding only in preventing them from finding
means to pay their debts. Humiliation is not a useful tool. Education is. And a judicial
reality check would be. Courts must be willing to lower support orders when needed, and
even void interest penalties on occasion.

The current child support system is not designed for the current economic realities
working people now face... layoffs, downsizing, work-related injuries, and
unsophisticated family monetary planning. As a money manager and financial
consultant for the financially sound, handling child support settlements is often part of
my job.

A jail filled with "deadbeat dads" does no one any good. It costs tax payers to house them. It costs the economy a potentially productive work force member. And most importantly, it costs the child who now has no father. There will always be the father who can pay for his Ferrari but is too selfish or angry to pay child support payments.
Let's post pictures of those guys on the WANTED list.