Deadbeat Dads

“Deadbeat Dads Arrested Day After Thanksgiving” the headline read. It was a story about how Clay County (M0) had rounding up fathers owing child support. No mothers, just fathers, though mothers are twice as likely not to pay court ordered child support than fathers.

What is interesting about this is that I had received a call from a father in Stockton, California. He has been threatened with arrest unless he pays back welfare money his ex-wife has been receiving for their four children. He had not been paying child support for eleven years and didn’t think he needed to. He also did not believe that he owed any money now, but if he didn’t, he could be facing jail. And he did not want his children to think of their daddy being in jail. So, he began paying, up until this week, when he quit his job and applied for welfare himself.

Now, I imagine you must be thinking that this is clearly an example of a deadbeat dad. A man whose children’s mother has to collect welfare to get by. Well, you would be correct believing that she was on welfare to get by, but not to feed the children. You see, for the last eleven years, he has had custody of the children, while she received welfare AFDC payments on them. So, why doesn’t welfare punish her for welfare fraud? Because that would not get the money paid back, so they went after the father, attaching his paycheck for 55% of the gross amount.

As a result of this, he could no longer afford to feed his children, so he had to quit his job and file for welfare himself. Whether he will get it is another matter. Welfare is already paying out on the children.

So, in the eyes of the law and in reports on welfare reform, he is a deadbeat dad. Another father owing tens of thousands of dollars in child support payments, on children his has custody of. This is not an individual story. We receive several calls of this type every month. Mostly from fathers who are paying child support, even through the courts, only to learn that their children’s mother was on welfare and not reporting that she is getting child support. In every case, they go after the father, not the mother. One has to wonder how many of the dollars our government claims is owed welfare by so-called deadbeat dads, are from cases like this?