“Child support system imperfect but essential”

By Jim DeBrosse

“Child support system imperfect but essential”

By Jim DeBrosse

The Dayton Daily News’ Police Blotter recently featured an item about a 29-year-old man arrested at a local Wal-Mart for ringing up $183.07 worth of items in a self-checkout lane for the bargain price of $37.15.

Asked by police why he tried to sneak the items through, the suspect answered, “This child support is killing me.”

After deductions on his Pizza Hut paycheck, he told police, he has less than $100 to live on for the next two weeks.

I have no doubt that child support takes a painful bite out of this young man’s income.

But I have news for him: If he were in custody of his children and paying all their expenses himself, he wouldn’t be doing much better.As both a father and the beneficiary of child support payments, Mr. Mom can see both sides of this story.

Child support can be a huge financial burden for the payor, especially if he or she is working at a minimum wage job and trying to sustain a separate household.

And if you’re the parent who has only part-time custody of your kids (and truly want more time with them), losing that money with every paycheck must be infuriating, and even more so if your ex is remarried and has another income.

But to my way of thinking, it’s better that the payor suffer than the children. The payor’s kids didn’t ask to be brought into this world. They didn’t ask for their parents to live apart. And they didn’t ask their father to work a minimum wage job.

To be sure, the child support enforcement system is not perfect. But I dread to think what kind of world our children would live in without it.

Forty percent of the children in Montgomery County alone — more than 58,000 — rely on child support from a noncustodial parent to help feed, clothe and shelter them.

And believe me, those basics are about all it pays for, because the support formula doesn’t include the cost of “extras” like music lessons, athletic fees and equipment, computers and Internet access, cell phones and the other modern amenities that children consider necessities these days.

I’m not without sympathy for this young man’s plight.

But I have more sympathy for the single mother working two or three jobs without benefit of child support, and even more sympathy for the children doomed to live in such a household.

 DATE: April 18, 2008                                      PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)

Copyright, 2008, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.