Saturday, December 20, 2008

Okay, Indiana Child Support Nazi's....Read This and Understand What is Truly Going On

Now this (thank goodness): A guest column in the Muncie Star that addresses the state ramping up child support enforcement (see next article on this site for the article she is referencing):

Guest column: Why some parents refuse to pay child support
By Joy Henley • December 19, 2008

I understand your recent Your View "State is Getting Tough on Deadbeat Parents" was intended for parents who have the means to pay child support but fail to do so. It is true that it is child abuse when a parent fails to pay child support and meet the needs of their child. There is no other word for it.

In an ideal legal world, there is not supposed to be any correlation whatsoever between child support and visitation. In real life, there is a huge connection. In some cases if the non-custodial parent had more involvement with his or her children, there would be more child support paid. There would be an investment and entitlement that extends beyond the wallet.

There is no excuse in the world for a parent to not support their child. I cannot imagine anyone disputing this. I do not know what goes on inside the minds of what society terms "deadbeat parents." However, I can probably give you an idea of what factors into a non-custodial parent's decision to not pay child support.

It is horror when a mother or father loses custody of their child to the abusive parent. Imagine paying "child support" to the one who battered you and/or your child. Or, providing the booze money that is disguised as "child support." You wonder what judge in his right mind would give custody to an abuser? It would be a judge who did not consider all of the evidence of abuse. This can occur when there are numerous, continuous false allegations. Sometimes, a parent just is not believed. An initial decision for child custody is usually brief -- the courts have only so much time allotted for each case. Not all of the evidence is always heard. Judges and courts are not perfect.

Children often end up with the abuser because the stable parent runs out of money. This is the blunt, simple truth. It takes many thousands of dollars to be involved in a child-custody case. Quality legal counsel does not come cheap. It is a vicious cycle of the innocent parent paying attorney's fees, court costs, psychological evaluations, etc.

Usually, guardian ad litems -- appointed by the courts on behalf of the child -- do a wonderful job. However, they are like judges -- imperfect and human. A guardian ad litem is as good as his or her training, which can be as little as 40 hours. I have to wonder how much specialized training should be required to determine custody. In most cases, the guardian ad litems are known as the "eyes and ears" of the courts. Their words carry a lot of power. They are supposed to remain neutral and in the best interests of the child. They are only as good, though, as their ability to be neutral.

False allegations run rampant in family court. It only takes one -- even anonymous -- complaint to a child welfare agency, and a parent is told to stay away from their child. In the early 1980s, it was believed children never lie about child abuse. Never. If you do not believe a child can be persuaded to lie by a vindictive, revengeful parent, go to or Children are often manipulated into making the false allegations.

A wise judge once said he could practically predict the extent of a child's future emotional problems by the size of the parent's litigation file. Isn't it about time we stop the war? Until courts learn we have to create win-win situations, there will be parents who refuse to pay child support. This should not be "winner take all" -- as in one parent gets the children, the money, the house and all of the advantages, while the other gets nothing. The child will ultimately be the big loser in all of this. Perhaps it is time we look at what both parents and the child can gain from the situation. Child support is just one major component of the total emotional, health and well-being of a child.

Failure to support a child -- you bet it's criminal. So is denying a child visitation with the other parent, parental alienation and parental abduction. The major difference is that when one doesn't pay child support, there are records and it can be monitored and penalized. When a parent subtly instills alienation in a child toward the absent parent, misuses the support money and fails to provide for the child, it is much more difficult to recognize. The parent who receives child support should be held just as accountable as the parent who pays child support.

Children need both parents if at all possible in their lives. When a parent speaks badly to a child about his or her other parent, the parent is bad-mouthing one-half the child. Perhaps it is time to look at workable solutions and how both parents can be invested in their child's future. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the need for and rights of children to have contact with their non-custodial parents were just as important as child support? It would be a win-win situation, and there would be some mighty child support collections!

Joy Henley is a former Muncie resident who is a newspaper reporter/correspondent and author. She has been in the social work profession for 28 years and is an educator of hostile aggressive parenting and parental alienation. For the past 22 years, she has worked with non-custodial parents in family law situations. She is the founder/executive director of The Juliette Gilbert Association for the Prevention of the Parental Abduction of Children.

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