Is Non-Payment of Child Support, Child Abuse?

22k in arrears in a Texas case…

This question is sure to raise eyebrows and start arguments but let’s take a minute to look at the FACTS.  With child support arrears in America at an astounding 116, 360,701.209.00 BILLION dollars nationally according the Office of Child Support Enforcement, this is something that requires a closer look.

WebMD.com summarizes it as: “child abuse means doing something that hurts a child. Neglect means not giving or doing something that a child needs.”  The article goes on to further break down abuse into categories of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Then goes on to add that “Neglect happens when a child does not get shelter, schooling, clothing, medical care or protection that he or she needs. Child neglect is just as serious as abuse and is more common.”

Federal law as defined by CAPTA 2010, defines child abuse as: “Any recent act or FAILURE to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or FAILURE to act that which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

Legal Dictionary defines child abuse as: “Physical, sexual, or emotional mistreatment, or neglect of a child”

The vision of the Administration of Children and Family’s is; “Children, youth, families, individuals and communities who are resilient, safe, healthy and economically secure” The ACF oversees the Office of Child Support Enforcement so is this vision being met?

over 20k in arrears…

We have over $116 Billion dollars on the books in unpaid child support on 11,020,324 cases across our great nation. Over the past 25 years the arrears owed has increased by almost 90 Billion dollars. So something is wrong, something is not working and we need to fix it.

In a previous article, http://momsfightback.org/money-weapon-using-child-support-tool-abuse/ ,I told the story of a mother, D. whose son played on an elite soccer team. As any parent knows, extracurricular activities don’t come cheap and D. placed the costs of her boy playing soccer on credit cards for over three years while trying to collect the court ordered child support from her ex husband. He did not pay and D. was unable to keep up and her son had to give up the team he had played on for 8 years. The boy became very depressed, starting getting in trouble at school and smoking…

“neglect means NOT GIVING OR DOING SOMETHING A CHILD NEEDS.”

Does a child ‘need’ to play soccer? You can debate that all day long, but this boy who now didn’t have a dad at home still had a positive male role model in his coach. This boy had friends who were all into the same thing– a sport that requires discipline, team work, responsibility, good healthy habits to play at an elite level– all very good things, we can agree. Not to mention the possibility of higher education as scholarships are involved with sports at this level….

“Failure to act which presents imminent risk of serious harm.”

Unpaid child support was the DIRECT cause of this boy not being able to play soccer. Not being able to play soccer was the DIRECT cause of this child’s depression, acting out smoking.

In this same article I also told how in 2010 my own daughter needed surgery for an angioma on her face. She had been picked on mercilessly at school over this and the surgeon wanted to take it off on the first day of Christmas break so any bruising would be faded by the time school started back. I notified my soon to be ex husband and his attorney of the surgery and date. When I went by the outpatient center a few days prior to the surgery to fill out her paperwork I found out that he had canceled the insurance on the kids.

The next example from that article was from a mother in Utah. Her ex was made aware that one of their son’s was going to travel to California to perform at a special event with the school orchestra. He quit paying his child support and there was no way to pay for the trip.

Before you make a call on that one, think: Do you want to be the kid who could not afford to go? Do you think this boy was made fun of at school for suddenly not being able to go? Do you want it to be YOUR child who was the only child unable to participate?

Please re-read the definitions above of abuse vs neglect. What is your opinion on this? I would like to know in the comments.

183k owed in Wisconsin….

The Federal Office of Child Support is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services and the ACF,  HHS has a very interesting article still available on their website that was published in 1989: A Partial Listing of Problems Facing American Children, Youth and Families.

This article gives those problems as:

  • Child Health
  • Adolescents in Trouble (drug use, teen pregnancy, runaways)
  • Child welfare
  • Lack of child care
  • Lack of early childhood education
  • Lack of Child Support and
  • Homelessness
  • This article goes on to cite a study done in 1986 by Bumpas that states: “Studies done show that 1 out of 2 female head families live below the poverty line and a significant factor in this impoverishment is failure to provide child support.”
  • Things have not changed that much since this study. In a 2012 study in the state of Texas the stats were 48% of single mothers and 17% of single fathers were living below the poverty line due to unpaid child support. And if you read the entire article the expenditures made on behalf of the Federal government to “attempt” to collect child support are astounding. I simply do not believe that in the United States of America we can not do a better job of enforcing court orders.

The ACES study available on CDC.gov shows the direct correlation between adverse childhood experiences and low life potential, risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions and early death…..  Childhood poverty or even financial strain is no laughing matter. A survey done by Moms Fight Back in Colorado listed in 2016 “financial strain” as top issue keeping Moms “up at night”.

9k owed in Michigan…

 

There is a church in my area that yearly does a back to school program to provide needed items for a successful start to the school year: new backpack, school supplies, new sneakers and a haircut. Every year the number of parents applying for this blessing increases, and the parents bringing kids to this event are not in pairs.

As a single mother, I can promise you that the only thing more stressful than August’s back to school, is December and holiday expenses. Paper and plastic only stretch so far…

So we have the facts– the latest Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support in 2016 shows an arrearage of 116,360.701,209.00 Billion dollars on 11,020,324 cases owed unpaid child support. Millions of children doing without needs and wants, experiencing lack and often worse. This is scientifically proven to lead to deleterious outcomes in life.

What is YOUR take? Abuse? Not abuse? Neglect or not? Please comment. 

27k owed in Florida…

What are we going to do about it? Make no mistake, whether you are a struggling single parent, a parent paying support, a grandparent chipping in for “extra’s” or a TAXPAYER with no children: this is everyone’s problem.

2018 is an election year for our Congress. I urge you to find your Representative and call for appointments, bring your arrears statements along with your concerns. Ask your congress man or woman if they even READ the Report and looked at the tables showing these disgraceful figures? Let them know you are watching, expecting action, and you VOTE. I for one, am tired of empty words out of Washington. I plan to vote for the candidates who will fight for our children.

https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

 

All arrears statements shown were previously posted online and used with permission of the custodial parent. 

https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/

https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/partial-listing-problems-facing-american-children-youth-and-families#childsupport

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html

The True Cost of Unpaid Child Support

https://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/child-maltreatment-topic-overview#1

 

 

 

Collateral Damage

When I started this blog, I had planned to leave this subject alone.  I wanted my blog to be a place where words are encouraging, inspiring and delightful! Words have so much power, I want words to heal, promote and do good things for the reader or listener. This world has enough negativity in it already.

About two months ago, an opportunity arose to write a series of articles on a subject I do care passionately about: our children’s welfare. And I prayerfully decided that if I do not share this subject with you I am not being truthful or authentic with you and my calling here. We CAN discuss difficult subjects without being overtly negative. I feel we can encourage each other even if the topic is not “warm and fuzzy”. We simply cannot change what we refuse to acknowledge!

So let’s dive in, shall we?

In America today, marriages are a mess, divorce is a disaster and in to many situations, children are the collateral damage.

It is the children who suffer, first and foremost, the breaking of family ties as a covenant relationship is destroyed… I don’t think anyone plans to get divorced as they contemplate marriage. I know I did not, I already had fantasy’s of grandchildren swimming in our pool while the cookies baked. But for me this was just that– a fantasy.

My marriage dissolved in a dysfunctional stew of alcoholism and codependency that was as conducive to “happily ever after” as a nuclear bomb.

It was not what I intended to have, it was not what I wanted, but it was what I got.

Due to his illness, I was a single parent long before the paperwork officially said so. I had struggled through years of baseball games, parent teacher conferences, church events, dance recitals, doctor’s appointments alone…I was adept at making excuses to any and everyone who knew I was a Mrs. but had no Mr. present.

It was once the paperwork was official that the real battle began. I had let him keep the house with the pool, I agreed to his “parenting time” demands: one day per week so as not to interfere with his work schedule, no summers and one holiday, if he had the time off… Even though I did not want the full amount of child support due per the income calculator and kept detailed records of how the money was spent with receipts for the two months he actually paid child support, nothing satisfied him or stopped his relentless accusations.

My husband showed up at our final divorce hearing, voluntarily unemployed, and insisted to the judge he could not pay ANY child support (and had not been paying throughout this divorce process he dragged out a year and a half, AND had canceled the medical insurance on our children 9 months prior to this date). The judge set the child support amount at $500 for two children, this would have been the amount owed on a full-time minimum wage paycheck for two kids in Texas. Then he informed my husband that “this was ridiculous!” and ordered him back to work in his actual profession and to return to the court in 30 days with a paycheck stub so he could amend the amount.

My now ex-husband responded by leaving the state.

I did not know that at the time, and I thought that with the paperwork officially filed in court, and the Attorney General of the Great State of Texas now in charge of collecting my child support that all problems were solved and I could go on with the business of raising my children and re-building our shattered lives.

I was wrong.

Even as I sit here typing this, years later, the arrears owed to my children for child support are in the tens of thousands and they have never received any medical support. I am owed close to ten thousand in medical bills alone and have one child facing surgery again.

I had no idea that in America you could throw children away like an empty beer can and legally get away with it.

My quest for answers to this baffling situation have put me in touch with single parents, MEN AND WOMEN from all over our great country in the exact same boat. I have attended support groups and participated in online forums.  The stories I have been told are heartbreaking, the arrears statements are horrifying…

The lack of attention to this subject by our elected officials and the media is mystifying. How can it be that in America children are throw away toys, Easily discarded when you are done playing with the other parent? To allow your precious flesh and blood to do without while you have cigarettes, smart phones and vacations? For your child to have to give up a beloved sport because you refuse to pay for half of the participation cost, uniforms and other expenses?

There arrears nationally are now over $115 BILLION DOLLARS– 30 states on record with over a billion in arrears on the books. According to the most recent Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support about $30 Billion of that is owed back to the federal government for children receiving TANF,EBT and Medicaid benefits who would not have needed or qualified for any of that if they were receiving court ordered child support by their parents.

THIS is how we treat children in AMERICA?

Wow, let’s “adult” for a moment, take the “battle of the sexes” out of this: if you helped to create a new human being with another person, you have a connection to that person! Like it or not, it’s TRUTH. Children are not pets, or cars to be traded in on a better model. So let’s “adult” and do it right! I don’t care who cheated, lied, spent all the money, was on drugs, drinking, got religion, or who is just a lousy miserable human being that you cannot stand to share air with for another second!

Is your CHILD that person?

Of course not! So don’t make your child pay for your failed relationship! If you “punish” your ex by withholding support or paying late or inconsistently who do you think is REALLY paying the price?  As yourself, “Did little Johnny get a yearbook this year?” or, “Was little Sally able to go on her field trip?” or even, “I wonder why Johnny quit playing soccer, (baseball, piano, debate team!)”

ADULTS– anger is NEVER an answer, and it’s not something we need to carry around with us or dump on other’s. Especially our kids. We can do better! And for the sake of future generations we need to “do better” quickly.  The family courts and IV-D courts are a failure. WE MUST DO BETTER– our kids are depending on it…

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.       1st Timothy 5:8

For further information please read:

http://momsfightback.org/true-cost-unpaid-child-support/      This article shows the effects on children of unpaid child support.

 

http://momsfightback.org/115544338886-billion-counting-child-support-america/                   This article highlights the status of divorce in America, the history of child support and why arrears are now at over $115 billion dollars nationally…Contains link to the most recent Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support showing arrears by state.

 

http://momsfightback.org/money-weapon-using-child-support-tool-abuse/           This article highlights cases where child support, paid and unpaid, has been and is being used as a tool of abuse. #endfinancialabuse

 

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/end-silent-crisis-unpaid-child-support-and-aggressively-enforce-collections-procedures-court-ordered-cases-now            If any of this touched your heart as a parent, or your pocketbook as a taxpayer, please consider signing this petition to end the non enforcement of child support that allows the states to continue to collect federal dollars while single parents suffer financially.

 

http://josidenise.com/a-letter-to-the-father-who-wont-pay-child-support/           This is a heartbreaking blog post from a single parent that highlights what it is really like to do it all alone. Children are not throw away toys…

 

https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/partial-listing-problems-facing-american-children-youth-and-families      poverty does not make for many good outcomes for our kids…..

http://www.janeandjohnqpublic.com/blog/child-support-it-was-never-fair      Our family courts and IV-D courts are in a complete mess…

http://stopabusecampaign.com/adverse-childhood-experiences-study/    My friends, we simply MUST do better by our children. The time is NOW, to stop ALL forms of abuse and raise our future.

 

I would personally like to thank the editor’s at MomsFightBack.org for having a platform for sharing all issue’s that affect our children and the hard work being done by them to improve our kids lives! Please visit them online and join them and  all parents working to make this world a better place for children! BRAVO MFB!    http://momsfightback.org/

 

 

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/end-silent-crisis-unpaid-child-support-and-aggressively-enforce-collections-procedures-court-ordered-cases-now   One more time! Please sign and share! We can be heard, our kids NEED to be heard! Thank you!