The Problem with Child Support

Preface
I have been itching to write an essay on this subject for quite some time but I was concerned about alienating people who are close to me. I have one friend who helped put together child support legislation in another state, another friend who receives child support payments, and a close relative who works for child support enforcement (I shall not say who he is because they like to remain incognito). Add to this that I’ve got a child who occasionally reads the blog and you can see how precarious this is. Just remember if we still disagree by the end of this posting, disagreement is not dissension and we are still down, much love. Without any further ado, here is my take:

My father left when I was a baby. When you’re married and you have three kids and you abandon that family, you are selfish in the destructive sense of the word (there is a positive type of selfishness out there but abandoning your family ain’t it.) I don’t mention this as an emotional appeal meant to tug at your heart. My point is that it’s people like my father that were the impetus for child support legislation in the first place, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I start by asserting an axiom: divorce is bad for children. I know there are some exceptions to the rule like in the cases of violent and out of control monstrous parents, but as a general rule divorce is bad because it results in financial damage to both parents which then translates into financial damage to the child. How is this possible? Because now instead of two parents paying for one house, one light bill and one heat bill, etc., you now have two parents paying for two houses, two light bills and two heat bills. etc. What follows from this axiom is that splitting up families is bad (hmkay) and should, if at all possible, be avoided (hmkay).

Now I’m not one of those people who believe in a hands-on government. I believe that government should stay out of the realm of personal issues because in the absense of government people have to contend with life. Life rewards good decisions and punishes bad ones. If you work, you get to eat. If you don’t work, you have to beg, steal, or die. These options suck so we try to avoid them. Naturally then, in the absense of government intervention, most people will work. A similar thing happens in this instance. In the absense of government intervention, most marriages would remain intact because divorce is financially ruinous.

But then you get fathers who abandon their families effectively breaching the marriage contract (and marriage is after all a contract.) The children suffer. What to do what to do? In retrospect I will say that the courts should have been used to punish the party that broke the marriage contract. This because the implied contract when you marry someone is “I will be there for you and I will be there for us. I will also take care of our children.” But courts do not make a distinction about who breaks the marriage contract. They instead invoke the concept of quasi contract.

Some legal background: The quasi contract is when a court contrives a contract where none exists (that is why it is called quasi which is latin for “almost” or bullshit.) This is done under the theory that it is unjust for society to allow one party to benefit at the expense of another. The classic example is an unconscious man is taken to the hospital. The hospital can bill him even though he wasn’t awake and could not therefore consent to the contract. A quasi contract is then a contract that did not involve consent.

This is the key issue here because nobody in their right mind would enter into a contract where you offer the other party a monetary reward for breaking that contract. That’s an even worse idea than Chris Webber’s infamous time out with no time outs left. But that’s the unintended consequence of child support laws as they’re presently written: they contribute to the high divorce rate by making allowing people to take money away from their ex-spouses without their consent.

Consent, by the way, is the cornerstone of a free society. Working because you’re offered a wage? That’s consent. Working against your consent is slavery. Consensual sex? Woo hoo! Sex against your consent? You get the picture.

Punishing the party who breaks the marriage contract rather than invoking a quasi contract that rewards the person who breaches the contract would have accomplished two things: it would have held parties to their agreement AND it would have had the effect of using government to strengthen marriage (if you’re an active government intervention kind of person.) Remember: marriage good for children, divorce bad.

Instead an interesting thing happened. Courts were used to award money to custodial parents based on need. Never mind who divorced who, all you had to do was get separated and show need.

Ladies and gentlemen, the divorce rate in this country is now about 60%. Studies have also shown that in most cases divorces are filed for by the women, not the men. So the small percentage of marriages in which men abandoned their families has been addressed by the government. The divorce rate is now at an all time high. So now instead of 10% of children being raised in single parent homes, it’s now more than 50%. Thank you government!

For those of you who still maintain that child support is for the children, I say no, marriage is for the children. If you ask me which I would rather have as a child, that my mom could have hunted my father down and gotten a periodic check from Friend of the Court or if I would have rather had a father in the household who worked and was role model and taught me how to fight and play football, I would have rather had a father. As it was my mom taught me how to fight. That’s why everybody in school always wanted to fight me. See Dave, I’m not the only one who has gotten more than my share of ass whuppins.

An interesting thing about Michigan’s child support formula. It’s based on how much each parent makes. This brings to mind the famous slogan “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his need.” Oh, that sounds very nice! Let’s see, who said that? Oh yeah. Karl Marx! We all know how financially successful the nations that were set up on his principles were. Compare that with Ayn Rand’s assertion that need doesn’t entitle you to anything (this is the gist of her novel “Atlas Shrugged”, if you haven’t read it, make it your next read.) Regardless of the intent, using need as a guiding principle does not work for macro economies, why then would anyone think it will work for micros?

In summary, I’m right, the current system is wrong. If you disagree you are either misguided or maybe even a communist. Or mabye I’m wrong. Maybe divorce is really really good for children and I’m just spouting nonsense. But above all, and whoever you are reading this, we better still be friends at the end of this. Or I’ll stab you!

(I’m getting to like this stabbing motif)

35 Responses to “The Problem with Child Support”

  1. ipus says:

    I agree with your essay..and the stabbings.

  2. Mexigogue says:

    Wow! One vote for. I’m waiting for the hate mail to roll in.

    Would you believe I was up since 5 a.m. thinking of this stuff until I got up at 6 to begin writing it. And I didn’t even write all I had been thinking. I’m demented!

  3. ipus says:

    I have mentioned Bloggers Anonymous to you before, haven’t I?

  4. Mexigogue says:

    Heh heh! No but that’s funny as hizzeck! You know if you really read the whole thing, then you’re just as sick as I am. That was like twelve hundred words!

  5. ipus says:

    Hey, I took the first step and already admit I have a problem.

  6. ipus says:

    Now I have to go and apologize to everyone. Dang.

  7. Mexigogue says:

    I’m worried about who it was that called that phantom time out. Was it Chris Webber? I’m sure Dave will correct me if I was wrong.

  8. Ghandi for the "D" says:

    Mexi you are so true!! My son told me the other day that he will never forget when I left him and his mother and moved to Detroit. He still holds contempt for me. He told me about the few times I said I would visit and not show up! I mean he started to tear up thinking about it (getting up at 4am and waiting for my car to show up). I never knew he was waiting all those times. I feel like shit to this day. So I agree with you all the way. If I had it to do again I would never get divorced. Until my son was out of High School!

    Marriage is wonderful even without the kids. Kids just take it to a new level. A Better Place!!!!!!!! The problem is that where do you meet someone that you can spend the rest of your life with? People are so weird now that most people are defensive and waiting to hear bad news about a new potential mate. That is a problem but it is life in the year 2004!

  9. Ghandi for the "D" says:

    Best Post Ever Mexi!!!!!!!!!

    Keep up the Goodwork!

  10. Mexigogue says:

    See? Ghandi gets it! You’re not supposed to get divorced. If you’re in an unhappy marriage you’re just supposed to get in a long string of affairs. Problem solved! But NOOOOOOOOOO, women gotta be taking the affairs all personally. shit!

  11. Ghandi for the "D" says:

    Chris Webber Buddy!

    The post was so strong I just let the slip go. Who cares about being correct on who called a timeout when you are writing pure TRUTH!

  12. rae says:

    That is why I will never get married again or have kids. Okay, maybe I will have kids, but never get married again. Okay, so I’m lying- I’m a true romantic- I’ll probably get married and divorced a few more times. Ugh.

    Good post though!! Took way too long for me to read.

  13. Mexigogue says:

    My biggest fear is that Halima will google my name, open this post, and then completely and utterly rip me to shreds on my own blog.

  14. Mexigogue says:

    I take it back. My biggest fear is getting my thing caught in my zipper. But Halima is my second biggest fear.

  15. Ghandi for the "D" says:

    Mexi! We should be visiting each other at home with our kids playing together and shit like that. think about it we spend alot of off time in a bar. That is ridiculous. Pool is great but I would rather be watching the fight a home with my friends and wife. Damn it sounds like The “D” is getting soft. Yeah I am!!

    I have to tell you all about this big fight with the old lady this weekend. Very nasty!!! The kind of fight that has me moving to Hold in the Woodland Apartments on 10/15/04. Can you help me move???

    Just joking I have about 15 people ready to help me move out. That is sad when everyone sees that my woman has issues. I love her still though!

  16. Mexigogue says:

    Pool is getting old. And I’m down for watching the fights. AND WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH ROY JONES GETTING KNOCKED OUT AGAIN??????

  17. Ghandi for the "D" says:

    Roy Jones can give it up now. Fighters have to learn when it is time to give it up. A brain is a wonderful thing to keep in one peace.

  18. rae says:

    That’s why I’ll never get married agian or have kids.

    Okay, maybe I’ll get married again but no kids.

    Dammit, who am I kidding, I’ll probably get married and divorced a few more times, but no kids.

    Do Puppies count?

  19. rae says:

    Don’t know how it happened but I hiccuped my thoughts in two different windows of your blog. Hahaha. Funny. I am too hungover for this shit.

  20. Mexigogue says:

    Did you offer to have puppies with me Rae?????

  21. Alex D. says:

    Hmmm…I never thought about the courts contributing to rising divorce rates before. I always considered it a moral dilemma, and an illustration of how bad the better part of society’s conscience can be. There goes my case for religion.

    Anyway, Marx’s theories were far too idealist to ever be practical in a human setting. They wrongly assume that people have a basic instinct toward philanthropy and responsibility. So you wind up with a system that rewards the good and the bad alike, just because of need. Doesn’t matter if the idiot who divorced his wife and found himself in trouble might actually deserve it.

    Certain aspects of capitalism can seem troubling to me at times, but the concept of actually working to earn what you get will never get old.

    And I’m just going to stop here before I post another mini-essay.

  22. Mexigogue says:

    Don’t rule out religion just yet. We still need to be told who to smite! Not to mention, if there is no eternal reward then this life is just a test that will never be graded, so why not just draw pictures in the margins and rape, pillage and plunder?

    My assertion that child support laws encourage divorce is conjecture based on the fact that they correlate toward the end of the 20th century. I will concede, however, that correlation is not causation. Bah! At any rate it can’t be a helpful factor.

  23. rae says:

    You don’t like puppies- you STILL bitch about my puppy being in your house.

  24. mexigogue says:

    That wasn’t a puppy. That was a bear-trap with legs!! you can’t fool me!!!

  25. rae says:

    He was a very handsome 85-lb brindle pit-bull puppy. And I loved him.

    Meannie.

  26. Mexigogue says:

    Whatever. NICEY!!

    (somehow that didn’t sound as bad as I thought it would)

  27. rae says:

    I lost him in my divorce but I never had to pay puppie support-thank God!

    Then my ex knocked up his girlfriend- who by the way is 18 freaking years younger than him- and she made him get rid of my puppy and I didn’t know until it was too late.

  28. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    I don’t have time to reply this week damn it. Good post though

  29. Mexigogue says:

    Oh shi’ite, thanks man! I feel like I must have done something right y’all!

    Oh BTW rae, I was gonna be mean and post this so you could search for D.O.G. http://chinesefood.about.com/
    But I didn’t.

    Oh wait, I just did. Damn!

  30. rae says:

    How dare you imply that someone ate D.O.G.!

    Bonus points for remembering his name- I know it’s a hard one for some people. HEHHE

  31. Mexigogue says:

    I thouhght it was an excellent name. I thought it was Japanese at first. I thought you were saying “Dioji!”

  32. rae says:

    It’s actually spelled Diogee, but whatever.

  33. Amanda says:

    Heh.

    I can laugh because my ex was the one who actually filed for the divorce and if it was up to me, I would have given up child support if he gave up visitation rights. As it is, I spend at least a fourth of what I get in child support to get the kids to the halfway point so he can have visitation.

    But then, he was an asshole who was putting his own children in danger.

    Also, because he wouldn’t cooperate with any of the out of court settlement stuff, he ended up having to pay most of my court costs too, which would have been a whole lot less if he hadn’t been jerking both our lawyers around so much that his own lawyer finally told mine that his client was insane.

    I think the courts should consider more than just who filed. They should consider whether or not the couple tried to get help to stay together and if both parties actually tried to make it work. I would still have won on that front too.

    But maybe if they did do that, people like my ex (men and women) would actually get their acts together and stop being assholes.

  34. Mexigogue says:

    In cases where neither parent is unfit and both want custody, question one should be “Are both of you financially able to take care of these children?”

    “I am!”
    “Um, I’m not.”

    Ok, there’s not even gonna be a question two now.

  35. Jill says:

    this was really good. i need to post on our (my husband and i) own experiences with child support. he was a dumbshit and knocked a girl up on a one-night-stand situation…anyways, i’ll write my story on my own blog someday.