4 Child Support Issues Facing Divorced Dads

child support issuesThere are numerous child support issues that cause persistent headaches for divorced dads. The fact is, the modern child support system is laced with errors and inefficiencies that do more to rip families apart than actually support them.

The child support system covers about a quarter of American children and provides a financial safety net for many families, but its shortcomings are painfully obvious.

Here are some of the most common child support issues that dads encounter.

Child Support Issues For Low-Income Dads

According to the Boston Globe, 29 percent of families in the child support system live below the federal poverty line. This is hugely problematic because child support law is unduly harsh on lower-income families. If a father ever falls behind and allows child support arrears to accumulate, it can be difficult to ever get out from under that debt.

Research shows many fathers who miss payments do so because they are unable to pay, not unwilling. Figuring out how and when to modify a support order is confusing and many dads can’t afford an attorney to help them so they end up doing nothing. It’s very easy for the situation to snowball to the point that they owe thousands in child support arrears.

Child Support Issues For The Unemployed

Child support issues get even more problematic if you lose your job since payments don’t necessarily automatically stop during unemployment.

If you find yourself unexpectedly out of work, it is important to act as quickly as possible to modify your child support order. Although it is a hassle and you might have to pay an attorney to help, it can end up saving you dearly in the long run.

Some dads make the mistake of just paying what they can afford at that moment or trying to work out an informal agreement with their ex, but these are not valid solutions. Child support arrears will keep adding up and an informal agreement will not hold up in court.

If you are an unemployed father with child support issues and need help figuring out how to modify your support order, get in touch with a family law attorney as soon as possible so you don’t end up owing more back child support than you can afford.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Child Support Law Creates Debtors’ Prisons

With so many low-income parents in the system who are unable to pay their owed child support, it is inevitable that their child support arrears start to accumulate. When that happens, the state can pursue a number of enforcement procedures, including revoking the payor’s driver’s license, garnishing his wages, intercepting tax income refunds, or even throwing him in jail.

Even when a dad is in prison, his child support payments do not necessarily pause, and once he is released his odds of finding a decent job are diminished since the employment prospects of former inmates are so dire.

That makes it even tougher to make future payments and pay off owed child support. You can see how this establishes a vicious cycle that essentially creates a system of debtors’ prisons.

We’d be better off working to craft a system that keeps both parents actively engaged ... Share on X

Child Support Enforcement

Current child support law places a major emphasis on child support enforcement while failing to do much to make sure both parents stay active and engaged in their children’s lives.

In 2013, the Federal Parent Locator Service collected $32 billion in unpaid child support. Child support enforcement is important, especially when it comes to collecting payments from irresponsible parents trying to buck responsibility, but as previously noted the deadbeat dad stereotype is more of a myth than reality. Research shows that fathers see their kids less often if they owe back child support, which is a problem when they simply can’t come up with the money despite their best efforts.

Perhaps one of the biggest child support issues is that the system is so fixated on monetary support. Rather than focusing so much on child support enforcement and dollar amounts, we’d be better off working to craft a system that keeps both parents actively engaged in their children’s lives.

A National Parents Organization 50-state review of the shared parenting laws in the United States revealed glaring parental inequality across the nation. As important as financial support is, it is even more crucial for a child’s development to have an involved and loving father in their life. That point resonated deeply with journalist Kimberly Seals Allers when she decided to forgive her ex-husband of nearly $40k owed child support to make sure he remained in their children’s lives.

Child support enforcement is important so long as it isn’t overemphasized. The overall goal of child support law should be to help support the healthy upbringing of the children in the system and too often it does the opposite.

The number of seemingly nonsensical child support issues divorced fathers face is staggering. If you are a dad struggling to understand child support law or having trouble paying off owed child support, it is a good idea to consult with a family law attorney who can explain how the system works so you don’t get stuck paying more than you should be.

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11 comments on “4 Child Support Issues Facing Divorced Dads

    After 3 years of separation i finally was able to get a divorce from a woman that stole over 100k from me. Oil and gas had bottomed out during our separation and i no longer could find work as a pipe welder.

    I had moved on and had another child on the way, hes almost 2 now. Because of the difficulty i had finding work i had moved back in with my parents. I typically work on the road all over the country and stay in a camper trailer as opposed to a hotel. Its cheaper.

    So my ex wife steals my mail and uses it to blackmail me into giving her a retirement account just so i can get a divorce. The judge throws out close to 25k in checks that i had written her with child support written in the memo. Because in the state of Mississippi i cant open a case for child support being a man. He throws out my providing her 2 vehicles, insurance on both vehicles, 2 years of her cell phone bill so i can speak to my 2 kids, and 2 years of paying for half of daycare. I was told i had done nothing for my children and ordered to pay 30k in back child support when no order was given. I average annually around 45k a year (average median income in Mississippi for household of 4 is 38k). Im currently ordered to pay 1375 a month in child support for 2 kids, and 250 a month alimony. Added all up thats almost 23k a year out of a 45k a year income. Before taxes are deducted.

    The system is a total failure.

    Im 29 and i work 50 hour work weeks. I can barely afford my rent and utilities and am in need of transportation. I see my children every weekend but feel terrible because I’m always sleeping and I can barely afford to keep the TV on, but most importantly I don’t have much food in my house. I pay more for child support than I do for my house and utilities! I don’t know what I can do… What more that I can do. I’m very sad about this but I need to know my options. Is there housing assistance for dads?

    I have a job where I can pick my son up from school everyday. His mother wants so much control she would rather pay after school care herself than let me have him everyday after school. She can’t just pay for the days she has him either, it’s all or nothing to the day care. All because she doesn’t want me to see him any more that in the order. Most moms would be ecstatic to have their kid have a father that’s wants more time with his kids.

    You should look into ‘Right of First refusal’. Mine is set at 4 hours. So basically what happens is she has to ask me if I can watch the children if the period that she can’t watch them is 4 hours. I believe that time can be adjusted to two or three hours. I also believe that you can have a stipulation that says if it’s a daycare then she has to call you first.
    I would look into it. You need to get that time

    What about all of us dads who consistently pay their child support on time and ask for even more time with their kids but bitter ex’s don’t want to go above what is in the “agreed court docs”? I’ve tried numerous times to get more time with my kids but she makes it extremely difficult and has to be on her terms?? I’d be broke if we had to go back to court every time she makes it difficult!

    You probably are inconsistent. What parent do you know what rather pay daycare and have you do it for free. Stop lying and get to the real reason why the mom won’t let you keep. Thank you and Happy Father’s Day

    I’m in the EXACT same situation.
    And she even violates the order as it is written.
    Everyone says, “take her to court.”
    It’s not that easy, you are talking minimum average retainer fees of $2K that often go over. Months litigating. By the time we’re in court, I risk her getting a little slap on the wrist.
    The behavior will continue because she knows I’ll be bankrupt trying to get her to do what the court has ordered she do.

    Our attorney mentioned, “first right of refusal” . We are just getting started in this ordeal, but he said this gives you first choice at getting your child instead of daycare. I don’t know how to incorporate it or anything. Maybe someone else can expand on it for you.

    Money doesn’t raise a child. The system has a complete design failure.
    Parenting raises a child. Quaility time spent with a child should be seen as $$$ money well spent.
    Dads subjected to two hours with child on a Tuesday is crap. Those two hours don’t account for how much parenting should be spent.
    Some Dads make better Moms.
    Parenting should be equal time.. equal pay at the standard of both parents capability. The time parents want and can be available for their children should be seen as ($$$support).
    An attorney should be appointed to the child not the opposing parents. Both parents should pay for the child’s one attorney.
    The system set in motion is a complete failure.

    I pay child support but she works lied to a judge about it. Once I quite school my bills will far exceed my income.(gi bill) I can’t afford an attorney but I have been shunned out of my kids life.

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