Exploring the East, Revisiting the West

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Visitation and Child Support

September 23rd, 2009 · 6 Comments

Because I received a couple of comments here that suggested that visitation and child support payments should be linked, I thought I ought to point out what’s wrong with that concept.

On the face of it, and from an ancient perspective, it seems reasonable that a man who supports his children financially should have access to them, and that one who does not should have ties severed. There’s nothing wrong or strange about that attitude, however, it doesn’t take into account the social and legal ramifications — especially where today’s tight labor market and anti-male family law come into play.

These days, during a custody dispute, it’s pretty much no holds barred. Former spouses trash each other viciously in order to win the prize. There are precious few limits and quite a few inducements to wives who want to slander their exes. Calling the guy an abuser, a pervert and a bum are pretty much standard. These kinds of slanders are used to definitively gain custody, and they work pretty well against men.

Out of all the tools women have to malign the men they chose to have children with, should we add bankruptcy and unemployment? To do so will only give mothers an incentive to put guys out of work and destroy them financially, and believe me, they will do what they can to put a guy on the street if it gives them an edge in custody disputes. This already happens with temporary restraining orders (TROs), and is a very effective technique.

If we add being arrears in child support, women will do their best to get men fired by putting them in jail on false allegations, maligning them to employers, harrassing them at work, etc. This is because they will figure that if the guy can be forced to miss a couple payments the mother will win by default. There is no doubt that this will be used by both mothers and scummy attorneys.

So I warn men to be very careful about using traditional values to determine parental rights. The game isn’t the same as it was in the 1950s. Married men are in a precarious position, and their right to be fathers to their children cannot be undermined any more than it already is without risking a total loss of rights as a father in the event that the wife decides to go must on them.

Tags: Men

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Justin // Sep 23, 2009 at 9:54 am

    The correct solution: assumption of shared parenting with no child support. If you can’t care for your children out of your own earnings, you LOSE custody.

    That would actually make sense, and it would eliminate the system of perverse incentives that we have now.

  • 2 sestamibi // Sep 23, 2009 at 10:01 am

    What you’re saying is nothing new, and was amply addressed in “Kramer vs. Kramer” as far back as 1980. Only today it’s a lot worse.

    One small quibble: We don’t have a tight labor market. We have a tight JOB market. Always remember the old saw from Econ 101:

    When the labor market’s tight
    Tell your boss to fly a kite
    When the labor market’s loose
    Doing that will cook your goose

  • 3 Welmer // Sep 23, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Right, Sestamibi. Thoughtless editorial error on my part there re: labor/job market.

    I watched Kramer vs. Kramer not long ago. It’s a touching movie. Imagine being in the guy’s position with two kids in diapers — that’s what I went through. Pretty much wrecked my life for a while.

    Actually, I think the movie went pretty easy on the mother. Many behave much worse.

  • 4 Professor Hale // Sep 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I am interested in the concept of how much money it takes to assure access. There must be a minimum amount that is just enough and $1 less is not enough. Otherwise, the whole system rests on nothing but the arbitrary and capricious exercise of the authority of judges. That can’t be “just” by anyone’s definition.

  • 5 Tarl // Sep 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    That can’t be just – but it’s exactly how the “justice system” works.

  • 6 novaseeker // Sep 24, 2009 at 3:35 am

    Yeah, linking support and access is a bad idea, really — it just gives women more incentives to game the system.

    The best approach would be as Justin mentions … presumed shared custody. But we’re not very close to getting there, and even if we were to move closer to that, there are numerous details that are thorny, such as the inability of parents to move around after they are divorced and so on.

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