Monday, May 11, 2009

Rant #6: Child Support As Punishment

After more than 18 year, I am rapidly approaching my final child support payment. I have been happy to provide for my daughter, but as of mid-May — when my daughter turns 21 — this part of my life will finally be over.

However, don't confuse child support with providing the usual financial support that most parents provide for their children.

Of course I will continue to give her money when she needs it — I have given her thousands of dollars for her education, both directly from me and through money that has built up over the years.

However, child support is often used as a punishment, and it certainly was in my case. I have provided for my child even when I was out of work--through no fault of my own--and did so without remorse.

However, the system puts people like me in a predicament. I get fully taxed on the child support, but I cannot claim my daughter as a dependent because she does not live with me. Thus, I have paid for upwards of nearly two decades without receiving any help from the government.

I have never argued against the child support, and have had it increased several times during the past few years. But the time comes when children need to be independent of their parents financially, especially with the state factored into the equation.

I will never not give my daughter the money she needs; however, I have not seen a full paycheck paying me my full salary (less taxes) in nearly 20 years.

I think I have earned that right, and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

A fairer system would be that both parents are obligated to set up accounts for their daughter, and the child can use the money when he or she needs it. Money gets taken out of both paychecks either weekly or monthly or per paycheck. This is a much fairer way, because in the current system, guilt is directed at the paying party. I have seen it, witnessed it, and been part of it.

It has not been easy (especially when the state took nearly my entire unemployment when I was out of work (and yes, I was obligated to pay arrears when I found work), but I have done it, and I am happy that I have reached the point where the end is near.

I will never financially abandon my daughter, but there comes a time when that need should be because you are obligated as a parent to do this, not because the state tells you to do this. There is a great difference.

And for every guy like me, there's dozens that don't pay a quarter in support, many times because the custodial parent has never legally asked for any payment from the other spouse.

I could go on and on how I was treated during the past nearly 20 years by my ex, and how I have joint custody of my daughter, but that is possibly another rant.

Right now, I am looking at the end of the tunnel, and liking what I see.

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