Friday, March 10, 2006

Men's rights and child support: the law is an ass?

Dean Esmay wrote a short post with the following statement that caught my eye:

...I still note with some mild annoyance that apparently it's okay to loudly proclaim for "a woman's right to choose," and evil and wicked and oppressive to say that her right to choose might have limits, that she should use birth control and be more prudent... but if a man doesn't want to be held fiscally and socially responsible for a woman's choice for 18 years, he's an evil scumbag who should keep it in his pants and use birth control and if he doesn't like it too bad. He made his "choice" when he chose sex. She gets her choice well after the fact, and gets to hold him responsible for her choice whether he likes it or not.

Although I think I understand where Dean is coming from--on the face of it, it certainly seems an unfair situation, doesn't it?--his words made me take a little stroll down memory lane, along some paths I haven't visited in quite some time. Thus, this post.

One of the benefits of being a little (just a little!) older is being able to remember when things were very very different, and trying to apply that perspective to the issues of the day. I'm well aware that nothing I say here may convince Dean (or anyone else, for that matter) to see this issue any differently. But please hear me out.

I've done a bit of work off and on over the years in the fields of custody, child support, and the rights of fathers and mothers. Way back when I was first learning about this stuff, abortion was illegal, and divorce was granted on fault grounds (adultery, desertion, battery; that sort of thing). In fact, the family law of Massachusetts, the state I knew best, embraced some very strange principles, so strange that when I write about them you may not believe they were operating as recently as the late 60s and early 70s .

In fault divorces one person was the plaintiff and sued the other, alleging a marital offense; the other often countersued and alleged a different offense on the part of the original plaintiff. So the couple wasn't just suing for a divorce, they were suing to see who would be judged the guilty party and who the innocent one.

Condonation was a possible defense against fault charges, and was defined as:

the act of forgiving one's spouse who has committed an act of wrongdoing that would constitute a ground for divorce. Condonation generally is proven by living and cohabiting with the spouse after learning that the wrongdoing was committed.

So, to be crystal clear: if spouse A hit spouse B, this would ordinarily constitute a marital offense and B could sue A for divorce and win. But if A could successfully claim that at any time after the blow--even if it was months after--the two had slept together, then B could be denied a fault divorce on these grounds.

Then there was "collusion." In a state such as New York, for example, adultery was one of the only grounds for divorce, and people often faked adultery in order to obtain a divorce. In those days there was actually a fairly lucrative business trafficking in women whom one could hire to go to a hotel and pretend to have an assignation with the husband for this very purpose.

So, collusion was:

an agreement between two or more persons that one of the parties brings false charges against the other. In a divorce case, the husband and wife may agree to use adultery as a ground in order to obtain a divorce more quickly, knowing full well that adultery was not committed. Collusion is illegal.

Illegal--meaning, if found to have occurred, no divorce.

And then there was a third strange legal principle. Memory fails me (and Google does, too; I can't find the term anywhere) as to what it was called. But the idea was that if both parties alleged fault on the part of the other, and the court found that both their claims had merit, they could be judged to cancel each other out. Two wrongs apparently could make a right--and then, no divorce.

The utter absurdity of much of this underlines the timeless truth of the famous statement made by Charles Dickens's character Mr. Bumble, about a different but highly related matter (that the law presumed a wife to be under her husband's control):

Mr. Brownlow: The law assumes that your wife acts under your direction.

Mr. Bumble: If the law supposes that, then the law is a ass, a idiot! If that's the eye of the law, then the law is a bachelor. And the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience.


Fault divorce had its--well, it had its faults, to be sure. Now that it has nearly gone the way of the dodo, I don't think too many people mourn it. At any rate, I'm certainly not one of them. The once-flourishing industry that provided fake mistresses (and real photographers to document the occasion) is no more, as well. But remnants of the old system remain in our family laws, like some sort of vestigial organ.

What was the point of all of this, anyway? The law was thought to have a strong interest in marriage because the institution constituted the bedrock of society and of childrearing. Breaking up a marriage was meant to be difficult, and only to be available under certain quite egregious circumstances. The lack of easy availability of divorce was often painful for everyone involved, and it led to terrible hardship--although, of course, the remedies making it easier have also led to terrible hardship.

I'm not suggesting we go back. But it's useless to pretend that the law can ever solve the dreadful problems inherent in the fact that people are flawed, love doesn't always last, and that the children of such unions need to be protected as much as possible from the mistakes of their parents.

The following is an illustration of just how far the law used to be willing to go to protect the children. There was a rule in Massachusetts that all divorces were conditional when granted, and that they only became official six months after the final hearing. The reason? Way back when this rule had been written, there was no way to be certain that a woman wasn't pregnant at the time of the divorce, and the court didn't want to make bastards of the children born after the hearing, if in fact the pregnancy had occurred during the marriage. Back in those quaint days, being illegitimate had huge negative ramifications for the child, and the court would go far to prevent a child from being placed in that legal no man's land.

What's more, there was another odd and related rule: a man was (and in many cases, still is) "estopped" from claiming he was not the father of any child born of his marriage--that is, conceived within the time frame of the marriage. And this not only included cases in which the child was not in fact his because his wife had had an affair, it included pregnancies that began when he was away from home and could not have possibly been the father.

Talk about lack of father's rights; a man was (and, as I said, often still is) actually required to support a child that was not his! And why was/is the law being such a dreadful, abominable ass? The rationale behind the idea, archaic though it may seem, was that (a) the rights of a child to be legitimate were paramount, and (b) when you got married, you made your bed and had to lie in it (even if someone else had been lying in it as well).

I am most definitely not saying I approve of such laws. I'm merely trotting them out from the dustbins of memory (and please, let me know if I'm wrong about any of this, because I'm doing this entirely from my own recollection) to illustrate just how far the pendulum has swung in recent years towards protecting the rights of parents versus those of the child.

Yes, with abortion and birth control and divorce on demand and most of the people involved in these cases not ever having been married in the first place, it does seem as though a man should be able to say, "Whoa! I never bargained for this! You got pregnant, you decided not to have an abortion (the solution I would have preferred), you decided to keep the baby. Why should I have to pay for the next eighteen years?"

This is the way it used to be explained, anyway: when two people sleep together, both of them--man and woman--are presumed to assume the risks that go along with the act. And what are these risks?

The first is that every single act of intercourse might end in pregnancy (unless the woman is past menopause, which of course is irrelevant to these cases). Despite birth control, despite assurances that all is taken care of and that it can't happen, despite whatever people tell themselves and each other, despite truths and despite lies--it's still possible. And everyone is presumed to know it's possible. And if they don't, they very well should.

But all is not equal. By the act of sleeping together (with or without birth control), the man and the woman assume different risks, and there's no way around some of those differences, because they are rooted in biology. The woman runs the risk of becoming pregnant. Pregnancy means a woman is faced with the associated health risks, which can be considerable; the associated decisions (because--and there's no way around this--she carries the fetus around within her body) as to whether to bear or not bear the child and whether to keep the child, if borne (if she gives birth and wants to give the baby up for adoption, the father can in many cases sue to block the adoption and raise the child himself. But that's a different situation than we're faced with in Dean's example, in which the father neither wants the child nor wants to pay for it).

In addition to the risks and responsibilities of pregnancy itself, the mother who chooses to give birth and give the child away bears the pain associated with that. And, if she chooses to keep the child and raise it, she--no less than the father--takes on the responsibility of supporting it financially. As custodial parent, she takes on the task of raising it as well, in the emotional sense.

The father takes on a different responsibility, and different risks. He knows he does not have any chance of becoming pregnant (at least that was true when last I checked). But he knows he runs the risk that his partner might, and that if she does she'll have the right to make the major decisions about that pregnancy. He also knows that, if she happens to decide to keep the baby, he will be required to support it financially, although his emotional connection to it cannot be forced. And he knows, and assumes the risk, that she might even keep the fact of a pregnancy from him, and/or abort the baby without his knowledge.

That's a lot of freight associated with one act of sex, isn't it? Not too many people think about it that way--and, to be realistic, they probably never well. It's perhaps the very last thing most young people think of when they hop into bed together.

But the law doesn't really care; it's that much of an ass, and a party pooper as well. Because the law still contains that remnant--that vestigial organ, as it were-- of being more interested in the welfare of the child than the rights of either parent.

You may disagree with the results--I don't like the results all that much myself. But my observation is that there's no good solution and probably never will be, human nature being what it is. And the law we've got right now is as good as any I can come up with, I'm afraid--even though it may still be an ass.

[NOTE 1: For all you English majors out there: yes, I know the original quote is "The law is a ass."]

[NOTE 2: In my research, I found this unrelated NY Times article with the amusing title "If the law is an ass, the law professor is a donkey," about the prevalence of Democratic professors in law schools.]

48 Comments:

At 1:53 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Goesh said...

You sure can complicate a man's life on a Friday....it will be interesting to see all of this work its way up to the Supreme Court. Man wants baby, woman doesn't, fetus dies - man doesn't want baby, woman does, fetus lives and man most likely pays child support, or something along those lines. I do like the idea of support being based on the amount of time spent in joint custody with each parent. I also like the idea of women and women alone deciding this issue of abortion, since they are the ones that get the fat belly and pain from it all. At present, I don't have a penis or fetus in the fight.

 
At 2:14 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do think that the current arrangement is flawed. Given how much the courts favor mothers in custody, a father (especially an unmarried father) has essentially no rights other than the privilege of paying. That doesn't serve the child or anyone else well. Fathers should have at least the right to be informed about abortions, they should have stronger guarantees of joint custody and access, and there should be a presumption of innocence in spouse-abuse claims, especially as related to child custody issues.

I suspect if fathers' rights were better respected, more fathers might live up to their responsibilities.

 
At 2:16 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Terry A. Hoover said...

I must respectfully disagree. I practice domestic law for years and nothing, not criminals swearing innocence, prosecutors prosecuting those they suspected were innocent - it happens, a lot, tossing families with young children out of their homes and onto the street, nothing so turned my stomach as a father refusing to do right by his child.

Protecting and seeing to the welfare of the most vulnerable members of society doesn't make the law and ass. Not stepping up to the plate and doing right by your own child makes a man an ass.

 
At 2:24 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, Dean. You do the deed, you pay the price. It's all about responsibility. And Neo's right: if you're not thinking that every act of intercourse may result in a child, you're not thinking at all. It's what I've tried to drum into my daughters' heads from the day they were old enough to understand...if you're not ready to be a parent for at least 18 years, you're not ready for sex.

And I've always thought that we've had it wrong all these years... it should be easy as pie to get a divorce, and most difficult to get married. Too many people hop into marriage without the slightest preparation or knowledge of what that relationship entails.

 
At 2:34 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Daniel in Brookline said...

Wow. A meaty topic, Neo, and a difficult one.

I certainly agree that the law is a ass. (I prefer the original formulation.) For all intents and purposes, the legal principles you explain here assume that no couple should ever have sex, under any circumstances, unless they are already in total agreement about how to handle an unexpected pregnancy.

I tell you, it's enough to make one understand why sex before marriage used to be such a taboo! We see such a concept as hopelessly old-fashioned today... but there were hidden advantages, weren't there? You can safely assume certain things about a married couple -- for example, that they at least have thought carefully about pregnancy, and how to handle it -- that doesn't apply for one-night stands and such.

You make an interesting point, too, to counter the notion that men's rights should be symmetrical to women's rights, in that pregnancy is not sexually symmetrical in the first place.

I'm glad that our society has attached such a stigma to "deadbeat dads"; this truly is a problematic phenomenon, particularly from the perspective of the child's needs. But with the deadbeat-dad manhunt in full swing, it's inevitable that it will be abused... and it's by no means too early to start thinking about such abuses and how to handle them.

(No, I don't have any answers. Ideally, all important choices about the fate of a child should be made by both parents. The problems, which the law attempts to address, is what to do when the parents do not agree, and in fact refuse to agree. Whom to coerce, and why?)

respectfully,
Daniel in Brookline

 
At 2:51 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Megan said...

I do find it ironic that a man essentially has no true choice except to keep his pants zipped. And I think that is the fundamental thing that people overlook.

To me, that's the only choice ... keep it zipped or face responsibility. For men and women. Unrealistic? Sure, I admit that. But the only 100% effective birth control is to NOT have sex. Duh!

After the deed is done and the woman is pregnant she is in charge. Nothing the man says or does can stop her from terminating the life growing inside her. I think this is fundamentally unfair and absurd.

I don't know if it's the same across the country but in WA state, if a woman gives up her baby for adoption the man has to give permission first. That is fair. He should have first right to raise that child.

It's hard when a woman 'tricks' a man into getting her pregnant. I feel sympathy for the man on some levels, but again, he coulda kept it in his pants. Then again, the kind of woman who tricks a man to get pregnant (assuming it-getting pregnant-wasn't an accident on her part as well) needs psychological help and probably shouldn't even be raising a child.

It's really sad that children are getting trapped in these kinds of situations through no fault of their own. The children really do suffer in these cases.
And whatever happened to "every child a wanted child"? Doesn't seem to have worked out so well did it.

 
At 3:03 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

The "annoyance" springs from the logical inconsistency that allows an individual to decide who lives or who dies ("choice") and who pays or does not pay.

However, I am a big believer in privacy rights and individual liberty, so, frankly, there's nothing any guy can do about it, other than to not have sex with a woman you can't see yourself having children by.

The law is an ass in these areas, but if we can all internalize the fact that the next generation is always more important than us, maybe our perceptions of the law would change.

Fault divorce was awful and I am glad that it's been done away with in most places. Just knowing my family history, I can tell you that divorce was actually rather common a hundred, hundred and fifty years ago -- you just got up and moved somewhere else: and start another family.

Being a parent is one of the glories of human existence. I would, if it were me, choose it every time. And, if all I could do was pay for it, I'd be glad to.

 
At 3:05 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Megan: "every child a wanted child." A nice thought, but--oh, well.

The fact that sex and pregnancy are linked may seem at times to be one of life's more unfair rules. But nature's funny that way, it really, really really wants us to procreate, to be fruitful and multiply. And if it has to implant a drive as powerful as sex to do so--why, then, it will.

In many ways it's not a bad deal. But the fallout includes the fact that sex and childbirth are usually not linked in the minds of those most driven by the first, and most likely to succumb to the second: the young.

 
At 3:35 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous strcpy said...

It seems that you are trying to say that the law with the male is justified beacuse it is good for the baby, in that repect I would tend to agree. Obviously it is better for the child, yet if that is the overriding factor (and makes removing someone rights OK) then I would argue that killing the child is even worse and abortion should be illegal. Again it is choosing to apply the standard to only one side.

If abortions are illegal by all means force the father to pay through the nose. But you can not give one side complete and total authority to choose "responsible or not" for all parties involved. Women hated it when the male had that authority, why do they have so mush trouble seeing that people, in general, hate it when that is the case and it's wrong no matter what?

Yes, I can see your point (I've seen it for years), however it is still based on applying a set of logic to only one gender and not the other. If you consider that to be OK then I bet there are quite a few laws many males would like to see back here on the books (yet, I rather suspect that while you may even see thier point you would be vehemently against it instead of trying to be a reconciler and rationalising it)

Lets use each peice of logic equally again: if the male were able to decide he wants the babay and the courts set an appropriate monetary compensation for your pain and suffering and the child went soley and forever to the male would you support it? That is if your risks were amply payed for (your choice to assume the risks already made when having sex).

 
At 3:50 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

(a) the rights of a child to be legitimate were paramount, and (b) when you got married, you made your bed and had to lie in it (even if someone else had been lying in it as well).

Another way to look at it is, it has gone from right to be legitimate guaranteed to right of birth, not guaranteed.

Then there was this fact that if you brought government into your relationship, via marriage, then it also put you at the personal control of the government. A very good reason not to get married for relationships.

"Whoa! I never bargained for this! You got pregnant, you decided not to have an abortion (the solution I would have preferred), you decided to keep the baby. Why should I have to pay for the next eighteen years?"

There is the equal protection question. A woman can decide to have an abortion, and her husband doesn't have a legal right to approve or disapprove, yet irregardless of his choice, if a child is produced then the man still has to pay child care. Going by Women's Lib, if it is her body, then why the hell does a man have to pay for her body? If it is about discrimination because women and men are different, then that is discrimination based upon sex. If the judges, the lawyers, and the law don't allow women to be discriminated in the work place because of sex then why is it okay to discriminate against potential fathers because fathers are men and not women? I would be the last person to say that men and women or should be the same, I am no socialist and I am not Maureen Dowd. But irregardless of the differences, people should be treated the same, irregardless of the differences that they cannot control.

There's a non-discrimination and legal argument here that is independent of the moral, "you two decided to sleep together and have a child" thing.

Because as you can see, legally, women have two choices. Men, don't have two choices. That's not equal protection under the law, and I always hear people repeat like a religious dogma that we live under the rule of law supposedly.

When you start engineering society like with Roe vs Wade, there's always going to be repercussions. Sometimes not even starting till 20 years later, or presumably.

Because the law still contains that remnant--that vestigial organ, as it were-- of being more interested in the welfare of the child than the rights of either parent.

Ya, vestigial indeed, in contrast with all the obstructions in its path.

I don't see how this helps anything out in reality, because if a woman knows that the laws favor her, then why would she act responsibly when the law favors irresponsible actions?

You're not going to stop people from doing what they want, since we're not in a police state, but that is very different from actively promoting it.

You do the deed, you pay the price. It's all about responsibility.

When you can get the women's lib and the Roe vs Wade people to do personal responsibility, then you can talk. Until then, it's one sided.
Hence, it isn't all about responsibility, it's all about how things really are. And how things really are isn't all about responsibility. I didn't create it this way, it just is.

If a woman didn't have as much of a choice concerning abortion as she does now, then it'd be fair under the law, that the man wouldn't have much choice either in terms of responsibility.

But I doubt few women who want a woman's right to choose, are consistent in their defense of anyone else's right to choose.

You want personal responsibility? Find a way to get people to take responsibility for their actions and beliefs, that's a nice starting point. I severely doubt that when the law is very effective at promoting bad behavior and punishing good behavior.

 
At 3:58 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

All of these arguments founder on the rocks and shoals of attempting to micro-manage and bureaucratize something as private as sex, procreation, and babies. We do not need this.

I understand that it's absurd to let one person (the woman) decide the life/death of something that she didn't make all by herself. But the alternative is another lever for bureaucratic manipulation that will only enrich lawyers.

It's worth keeping in mind that 150 years ago -- and people were very religious back then, probably due to the omnipresence of death -- abortion was frowned on almost entirely because young girls were dying in abortion attempts, none of this stuff about life beginning at conception, etc. etc. The case of Mary Rogers in NYC, which inspired Poe's "Marie Roget" is worth looking into on that score.

In the end, the basic rule is: if a woman doesn't want a child, you can't force her to have it. It's always been that way.

If a guy doesn't want to let a woman be "in control" of these issues, then, pick your partners more carefully. It's that simple.

 
At 4:13 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Nikolaides said...

I am a domestic relations lawyer and a parent of sons. When they reached the right age, I made each of them listen while I described the situation Neo has so skillfully outlined here. A young man's decision whether or not to unzip his pants can foreclose him from a whole series of ensuing choices about which he may have very strong feelings indeed -- whether his child will be aborted; whether his child will be raised by both its parents living together; whether his child will be placed for adoption or raised by the young man alone; and, of course, whether the young man himself will spend the next 18 years or more working to provide the child with economic support. I went through this with each of my sons more than once. They rolled their eyes -- but they listened.

I don't actually think that there's anything unfair about this situation. The law is not "a ass" when it puts the needs of children ahead of the preferences of their parents. That's exactly what the law should do. Sadly, there are plenty of parents of both genders out there who will not put their children's needs first unless the law forces them to do so. As for allowing the female to make most of the choices, I am no fan of abortion. But whether or not abortion is under consideration, the female bears the brunt of the pain of any unwanted pregnancy. It seems right to me -- perhaps because I am also the parent of a daughter -- that when choices must be made, she should have the final say.

So, I didn't tell my sons that the law on this subject is unfair. I just told them that this is the way the law is, and that every unmarried man needs to know about the law and to think about what it means before making pants-unzipping decisions. Unfortunately, based on the situations I see daily in my legal practice, it's clear that many, many of them don't.

 
At 4:53 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

I don't actually think that there's anything unfair about this situation. The law is not "a ass" when it puts the needs of children ahead of the preferences of their parents. That's exactly what the law should do.

I think you missed the point: that's not what the law does. The law puts the needs of children above the preferences of one and only one parent. It is biologically impossible to make a child with only one person, yet the law essentially depends on there only being only one person necessary to make a child.

As for allowing the female to make most of the choices, I am no fan of abortion. But whether or not abortion is under consideration, the female bears the brunt of the pain of any unwanted pregnancy.

The fact that the woman must always bear the inconvenience of pregnancy and pain of childbirth only argues that women should have a way to opt out. It gives exactly zero support to the idea that men should not be able to opt out as well.

 
At 4:56 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

To amend my last post, I think the law was written with the assumption that the woman could not opt out of an unwanted pregnancy. If that were the case, it would make sense to force the father to pay child support, as it's just as much his fault as hers.

This assumption has not been valid in at least 30 years; as such, the law is sorely outdated.

 
At 5:02 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger NewSisyphus said...

It has been, and I think always will be, a solid common law principle that the natural father of a child, even one born against his wishes and desires, is financially responsible for certain costs. The same principle applies to the female, of course, were she to abandon her child in the sole care of the father.

The "unfairness" of the availability of abortion is therefore really illusory, since by the act of sex itself, legally speaking, the man put his wallet on the line.

However, I strongly disagree with the characterization of the old "at-fault divorce" laws here.

Certainly, it must be admitted that that system produced abuses and prevented people from getting a divorce when they wanted one.

However, in today's system, a blameless spouse is afforded NO protection whatsoever by the law and is treated as a guilty party by definition.

Until you have seen the face of a man, a faithful husband and father who has been working his ass off day and night for the past 15 years, told that because of his wife's infidelity he will: 1) not get to live with his children, 2) see his children only on alternate weekends and certain holidays and 3) provide a montly stipend to the cheating wife and her (usually unemployed) new boyfriend, you just haven't seen the full wonder of "no fault" divorce!

 
At 5:51 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

In the end, the basic rule is: if a woman doesn't want a child, you can't force her to have it. It's always been that way.

If a thug wants your money and to kill you, you can't force him not to. It has always been that way. Until the advent of government and the rule of law.

It is the rule of law, and it is the system we live under.

But whether or not abortion is under consideration, the female bears the brunt of the pain of any unwanted pregnancy. It seems right to me -- perhaps because I am also the parent of a daughter -- that when choices must be made, she should have the final say.

Eventually they will come up with a decanting process that allows people to be born in a machine and not in a woman's body.

To, Niko

Do you really mean to say you'd support man and woman having equal say in termination of a pregnancy when the proper technology comes about? Or what about if the man pays her the money for giving birth to the child in a legal agreement, do you think your daughter has the human right to refuse to do so because it is her body under the law?

To justin,

If that were the case, it would make sense to force the father to pay child support, as it's just as much his fault as hers.

Back in the day of no Morning After pills, that probably made lots of sense. Now? Not so much sense. A woman need not wait 2 or 3 months to find out she is pregnant and be surprised. So there isn't that many complications, since presumably having an abortion at 3 months could have health dangers. Technology is outpacing the formation of law and society itself. I wonder if that is a good thing.

to new
The "unfairness" of the availability of abortion is therefore really illusory, since by the act of sex itself, legally speaking, the man put his wallet on the line.

I see, it is fair for a man to have less options than a woman concerning abortion. Since a woman has birth pills, morning after pills, early abortions, late abortions, partial birth abortions, giving it to the man, giving it to the foster parents. A man has, a condom, a zipper, and a pants. I see, this is the illusory "unfairness" principle we have working here...

Until you have seen the face of a man, a faithful husband and father who has been working his ass off day and night for the past 15 years, told that because of his wife's infidelity he will: 1) not get to live with his children, 2) see his children only on alternate weekends and certain holidays and 3) provide a montly stipend to the cheating wife and her (usually unemployed) new boyfriend, you just haven't seen the full wonder of "no fault" divorce!

Um, why is this scenario unfair for the man given his decision to marry the woman? Given the fact that you already said the unfairness of a man deciding to have sex is an illusion because of his choice... Talk about your logical inconsistencies.

Fairness is about similarities between two sides and two opportunities.

Male and female are inherently unfair. We are stronger in the upper body, they are not.

To say that the legal system is "fair" in its discrimination of male and female members of human society, is to say that treating people different is fair, that people have different rights based upon their sex and their social position.

To me, the issue isn't one of family, I don't have emotions concerning that.

But based upon human rights. I don't like to see injustice done, for whatever reasons.

It will be fair, when new technology and government makes male and females the same in gender, in role, and in options. Fairness isn't the objective here.

But to me, a male and a female do not have the same options. If they did, I'd have no beef and I wouldn't care. It is not that I want to make the law system fair, since the law system should be impartial not fair; fairness is for idiots and utopians. I don't advocate the man having the same options as a woman, since the man doesn't have the same options as a woman by definition. What I want, and what I think perhaps those on my side of the debate want, is the same NUMBER OF OPTIONS.

If Bush failed 10 times in his life and still succeded, but a poor black man has only 5 chances to succede or die, this is fairness eh? This ain't fairness, it ain't even impartiality.

Legally, it is quite correct. With gay marriage going on, two females will want a man to donate sperm. If the two females break up... guess who gets to pay child support? You got it right, the man.

Hardy, har har, let's tell the man to keep it in his pants when donating sperm. Hello people, the law is an ass, not because it is unfair, but because it is behind the times.

 
At 6:20 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Regarding child support being the right of the child: That would make some kind of sense if the child support checks were made out to the child, but they aren't.

It might make sense if there was an option for the father to buy food, clothing, school supplies, etc., and prove he'd spent that amount of the child every month. But they don't do it that way. It's not even an option.

It also side-steps the issue: the child's existence in the world is due to choices two people made. We have, as a society (to date) decreed that it's A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE whether that child will be born or not. If it's HER CHOICE, then it is HER RESPONSIBILITY.

If the father tells her well in advance that he doesn't want to be a father, doesn't want anything to do with the child, then, he should have that right. It's the functional equivalent of his giving the child up for adoption.

Instead we have a system where women have choices, and men are responsible for women's choices.

Can you name me any other place in life where one person is held responsible for the choices of another person? The only one I can think of is parents of children--if a child does something foolish, the parent is responsible.

In other words, our current system on abortion relegates women to the status of children. Sex and its results are the man's responsibility, period. Women are just helpless weak dependent victims of those brutish men who have sex with them.


Dean's comment here is interesting. And brings up some new ideas.

For example. If a woman can abort anytime in the 9 months or whatever, then a man should have the option to terminate his "parental rights" within those same 9 months or whatever.

There is also the matter of a man paying a woman to give birth to a child, which should be a LEGAl option of the man's in addition to termination of parental rights.

You can't make a woman accept of course, but it isn't slavery like some may think is the only option concerning babies being born from women who don't want to.

Most likely it would cost less than a divorce all said and done.

 
At 6:28 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Vanderleun said...

It's always of interest to me that much of our current family law seems to. and in fact does, solve a specific problem between a specific family. And, at the same time it solves a couple of individuals' problems, it creates -- in aggregate -- a social disaster.

A divorce between one couple is a solution. Having a set of laws that allows divorce rates to rise to around 50% is an horrendous situation that bodes ill for the society at large, and paradoxically, for all present and future couples as individuals.

It seems to me that in an attempt to patch the flaws in individual humans, we export that flaw to the society at large. And our solution when these laws have the effect of breaking the society? More laws.

As for the automatic scorn heaped on "deadbeat dads," well there are deadbeats and deadbeats. Seldom mentioned in any of this is the role that many -- by no means all -- ex-wives play in the syndrome. No visitation. Harrassment. Poisoning the children against the father. Moving out of state. Taking a new man but still wanting the check. Spending the check on vacations instead of on the child. There's a whole host of vile little tricks and moves that a spiteful ex-wife deploys to get and continue to get even with the ex-husband.

The courts, with their continuing romantic notions of the spurned wife and mother, still side with the wife is the vast majority of cases. If she's playing mind games with the kid and the ex-husband she seldom has to worry about being taken to task by the judge. But the poor schlub of an ex-husband just has to keep paying and paying and paying.

I don't condone the avoidence of child support, but at the same time I understand why a man might not want to blandly accept penury when there is little else in it for him.

 
At 6:43 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous colagirl said...

You can safely assume certain things about a married couple -- for example, that they at least have thought carefully about pregnancy, and how to handle it -- that doesn't apply for one-night stands and such.

You'd assume so, wouldn't you? A (married) friend of mine got pregnant while she was on the patch. It was a rather unpleasant surprise to both of them, although they did end up keeping the kid.

 
At 6:52 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

I didn't put the following into the original post for the sake of (relative) brevity, but I'll add it now, since I think it's relevant to many of the comments here:

Equal protection does not, when last I looked, apply where the valid and actual biological differences between male and female are the basis for the distinction. Pregnancy is, by definition, one of these biological differences, and in my opinion the distinction here is based on that biological difference. The situation will never be equal for that reason, and cannot be.

Once the woman is pregnant and there is a disagreement between partners about what should be done (the situation we are dealing with here), the following would be the only alternatives for her: bearing the child or having an abortion, and doing either because she chooses it; or bearing the child or having an abortion because she is compelled by another. Given that abortion is presently legal, to allow a man to compel a woman to bear a child against her will is not a good solution in the legal sense. The same would be true, by the way, for forcing her to have an abortion against her will.

For a somewhat (but not totally) analogous situation, there's a principle in the law of contracts that says that "specific performance" of a contract is not ordinarily enforceable by the law. There are certain things the law will not compel a person to do just because the other person involved in the bargain or the contract wants him/her to do so, even if it was explicitly part of the original agreement. Making things right traditionally involves a money penalty, rather than compelling specific performance.

However, back when the legal system banned abortion, it used to compel the woman to bear a child against her will, although it could not compel her to keep it. (In truth, however, in many cases, women got illegal abortions anyway and did not bear the children in question. But that's a different issue.)

Now that a woman is allowed to make the choice to have a legal abortion, no one else is allowed to choose for her, not even her husband. Some of you may indeed disagree with that, but IMHO changing that rule would make very bad law indeed, somewhat like compelling specific performance.

The real question is: what is the proper remedy in a case in which the mother bears the child against the biological father's will, and is asking him to financially support that child? Note, again, that no one can force him to be an involved or caring father; no one can compel him to babysit or have the child live with him (that would be compelling specific performance, once again).

The remedy is financial, as remedies usually are under the civil law: pay child support. And it applies equally to both spouses, as far as I know (legally speaking; in actual practice it's not always applied so equally). For example, if the unwed father successfully stops a mother from giving a child away for adoption, she is compelled to pay him child support for that child (although she never wanted or expected to), and he is free to raise it. This would be the most analogous situation, in my opinion, the one to which equal protection would apply. The remedy, once again, is financial: she could not be compelled against her will to have anything more to do with the child other than to pay child support.

If one accepts the principle that, for biological reasons, the woman gets to decide the course of her pregnancy, the question remains whether the biological father should be allowed to opt out of paying if she chooses to bear and to keep the child against his will. Under some sort of contract law, one might imagine that, as a penalty, she might have to forego child support because she is going against his expressed wishes about his own child.

But that's where some sort of strict contract law between the parties (mother and father) does not apply, because the remedy is not to the mother as a party to a contract (real or implied): it's to the child, who is not a party to any contract made before its conception. Child support is paid to the parent but it's a right of the child, and is supposed to be applied to the child's needs only.

For example, let's say the woman had promised the man that she'd have an abortion if pregnant; an explicit oral contract. But she then changes her mind when actually pregnant and refuses to do. "Specific performance" is not allowed; he can't force an abortion on her. If contract law were to be applied, and he could prove she had agreed to an abortion and broken her word to him (the "contract"), he might be able to opt out of paying for that child as a sort of financial penalty for her breaking the contract, in lieu of specific performance.

But this is where another overriding principle, the "best interests of the child" comes in. And this, once again, is because the child was not a party to that contract, and the child is the helpless result of the decisions of both these adults, and as such must be protected. It is in society's interests to protect that child--or so goes the argument--and to compel both parents to support that child financially until it reaches its majority.

So, there is a linked set of decisions: the decision to have sex (and to assume its consequences), in which both take part; the decision to have or not to have the child, which is the woman's only, for biological reasons; once she decides to have the child, the decision as to whether it will be given up for adoption (and the man has some rights in this matter, to challenge an adoption and keep the child himself); once the decision is made for one or the other parent to keep the child, the decision to pay child support (equal for both parents according to ability to pay), and the decision about coparenting and visitation rights, in which the court is involved if the parties disagree.

Bottom line: there are certain things you can force a person to do legally, and certain things you can't. There are certain risks you are assumed to have taken on when you engage in certain acts. And there are certain considerations that trump others, according to the law, and are considered best for society as a whole.

 
At 7:27 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Nikolaides said...

Justin wrote, "To amend my last post, I think the law was written with the assumption that the woman could not opt out of an unwanted pregnancy. If that were the case, it would make sense to force the father to pay child support, as it's just as much his fault as hers."

Child support isn't premised on FAULT, it's premised on RESPONSIBILITY. Both parents are responsible to support their child (not just fathers) because both parents are legally responsible for the support of their child. Fault has nothing to do with it.

 
At 7:31 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger AFFA said...

I do not want to return to the family law of the last century, but I wouldn't agree that family law has improved since then. Dumb laws with severe unintended consequences have replaced equally dumb laws with equally severe unintended consequences (some remain undiscovered).

I think there's a better law, but I don't know it.

I could see technology coming to the rescue eventually, but there seems to be little to no interest in creating new solutions. There have been only a few improvements in birth control for women, and they didn't exactly take over the marketplace. Although you hear news reports of "male birth control pills" occasionally, men are still limited to condoms, abstinence, or, for lack of a better word, prayer.

I'd be willing to take the chances of some fictional worlds (the superior birth control and uterine replicators of Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga come to mind). I'm less enthusiastic about the real world after having seen friends ruined by women abusing the current law.

I've found a personal solution to the problems of modern family law. But since my solution is to actively avoid all intimate relationships (in protest over the gender politics of the last 60,000 years), I wouldn't say it's an ideal solution.

Also, the word you're looking for is "recrimination."

 
At 7:34 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

AFFA: Oh, dear, that's quite a solution!!

But thanks for that word: recrimination. I somehow wanted it to begin with a "c," also, like the others.

 
At 7:34 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Nikolaides said...

Ymarkysar asked me (I think),
To, Niko
Do you really mean to say you'd support man and woman having equal say in termination of a pregnancy when the proper technology comes about?

I certainly don't mean that, and I can't imagine what I said that made you think I did.

Or what about if the man pays her the money for giving birth to the child in a legal agreement, do you think your daughter has the human right to refuse to do so because it is her body under the law?

As I see it, three people's human rights are involved here, and that triangulation is way too complicated, not to mention incendiary, to get into in a blog comment. But just as a matter of contract law, nobody is required to agree to another person's offer just because the offer was made. If Person Number One offers money to Person Number Two to do something that Person Number Two does not want to do, nothing about the mere fact that an offer was extended obligates Person Number Two to accept it. Of course Person Number Two has the right to refuse to enter into the agreement.

 
At 7:41 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Nikolaides said...

Ymarkysar asked me (I think),
To, Niko
Do you really mean to say you'd support man and woman having equal say in termination of a pregnancy when the proper technology comes about?

No, I don't mean that. I can't imagine what I said that made you think I did.

Or what about if the man pays her the money for giving birth to the child in a legal agreement, do you think your daughter has the human right to refuse to do so because it is her body under the law?

As I see it, three people's human rights are involved here, and that triangulation is way too complicated, not to mention incendiary, to get into in a blog comment. But just as a matter of contract law, nobody is required to agree to another person's offer just because the offer was made. If Person Number One offers money to Person Number Two to do something that Person Number Two does not want to do, nothing about the mere fact that an offer was extended obligates Person Number Two to accept it. Of course Person Number Two has the right to refuse to enter into the agreement.

 
At 7:43 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

For example, if the unwed father successfully stops a mother from giving a child away for adoption, she is compelled to pay him child support for that child (although she never wanted or expected to), and he is free to raise it. This would be the most analogous situation, in my opinion, the one to which equal protection would apply. The remedy, once again, is financial: she could not be compelled against her will to have anything more to do with the child other than to pay child support.

That's an extremely flimsy comparison. The woman had every chance to get an abortion before giving birth. Can you give me anything remotely similar to that the other way around?

nikolaides: I'll get back to you. Leaving the house.

 
At 8:20 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

quantam: it's similar in terms of logic, not in terms of the actual situation in its human elements. As I said, the situation between the two sexes in this can never be equal or truly analogous, because of the innate biological differences. That's why absolute fairness eludes us, and always will.

The best we can do is to use logic, good judgment, and relative fairness, to try to make the best of a very bad business indeed.
I've seen, both with friends and professionally, the sad tales on all sides of the equation: men, women, and children.

 
At 9:13 PM, March 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> At 2:16 PM, March 10, 2006, Terry A. Hoover said... I must respectfully disagree. I practice domestic law for years and nothing, not criminals swearing innocence, prosecutors prosecuting those they suspected were innocent - it happens, a lot, tossing families with young children out of their homes and onto the street, nothing so turned my stomach as a father refusing to do right by his child.

Protecting and seeing to the welfare of the most vulnerable members of society doesn't make the law and ass. Not stepping up to the plate and doing right by your own child makes a man an ass.<<

I met plenty of self-serving liars like you and the fact that more than 50% of marriages end in divorce simply makes your mouth water knowing that there are all those prospective clients waiting at your door. Women abuse men just as often or more often than men abuse women. Women aren't hauled off to jail for spousal abuse or thrown out of their houses, but men are. 70% of all divorces are filed by women. There are no "men's divorce services," but there are women's divorce services. There is no enforcement of visitation rights in most states. Parental Alienation Syndrome is widely practiced by women and encouraged by their self-serving female lawyers. 93% of all children are awarded to the woman in contested custody battles.

Yes, there are a few men who just take off and leave their families high and dry. They also represent far less than 10% of all cases that end in divorce.

You're a pompous ass and a cancer on society, Terry Hoover.

 
At 11:41 PM, March 10, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Anonymous at 9:13 PM: Please express yourself in a way that is less abusive to other commenters here. The last sentence of your comment went over the line.

 
At 1:07 AM, March 11, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This is an emotional subject, and discipline helps. Without it, bad things happen.

 
At 3:12 AM, March 11, 2006, Blogger Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:44 AM, March 11, 2006, Blogger Bezuhov said...

"That's a lot of freight associated with one act of sex, isn't it? Not too many people think about it that way--and, to be realistic, they probably never well"

Um, yeah, except back when we had all those dumb old-fashioned laws. I can say as a product of the me-first divorce culture that I'm no big fan of the changes, and I doubt I'm alone.

"Sex uber alles" is a helluva way to run a country.

 
At 12:15 PM, March 11, 2006, Blogger Holmes said...

In the bad old days, when women bore the entirety of responsibilities for child-caring and financial support (before child support was predominant), how many single parent homes were there? Think it was anywhere close to the 55% we have today? The market for sex shrank when the demands were placed solely on the mother. And while that sucks for the invididual mother who is abandonded, there certainly seem to be societal benefits to that model.

 
At 4:21 AM, March 16, 2006, Blogger Pablo said...

Child support isn't premised on FAULT, it's premised on RESPONSIBILITY. Both parents are responsible to support their child (not just fathers) because both parents are legally responsible for the support of their child. Fault has nothing to do with it.

If both parents are responsible for the support of a child, why have I been paying child support for 16 years while my ex-wife has remained unemployed?

I support the child, she does not. Nor is she required to.

 
At 9:32 PM, March 19, 2006, Blogger Dick King said...

NewSisyphus said:

"It has been, and I think always will be, a solid common law principle that the natural father of a child, even one born against his wishes and desires, is financially responsible for certain costs. The same principle applies to the female, of course, were she to abandon her child in the sole care of the father."

No, the same principles emphatically do not apply to the mother, who can abandon her baby at a fire house or hospital for three days after birth and just ... walk ... away. True, she can't abandon the baby to the father, but what would that mean? Logically you don't abandon a baby to a specific person, you just abandon hir in general.

-dk

 
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At 4:10 PM, April 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I ran across your site when researching and have seen some things I agree to and disagree. First, I think every case is different in their own way. I am a result of the situation. I was married to a man I did not love but had children by and laid my bed and stayed in it. I was a coward in trying to get out of my marriage. I was a good mother and the only one that stayed home and cared for our children for 24 years. My husband was a good man and supported us. He also had surgery because he did not want any more children after our second son was born. I still wanted children, he convinced me to sign papers because he was a bully type man and I was still young.(our marriage stayed in trouble. Then along came his friend that he brought home. Even though I was 28 at the time and did believe in being married to one man....life changed! The loneliness set in. It resulted in an affair for over 11 years and 3 pregnancies. I was in love with this man and he wouldn't leave his wife. He knew I was trying to get pregnant and enjoyed in getting me that way. To make a long story short. He never helped me financially in any way and only visited the children as a family friend. I have 3 beautiful daughters now that I solely support. I am soon to be divorced. The husband doesnt' pay child support even though he had claimed to be their father in public.(He already knew this) He doesn't by law have to pay child support. Dna proved him not to be.

The real father was served child support papers over a year ago by me and I'm still fighting it. His DNA testing proved him to be all 3's father.(I paid for this too as well as his testing) When our affair ended, so did our friendship. I still to this day love the man because he is my girls daddy. He was and is still married to someone else...he had another little girl a year after my last was born his first with his wife. Mine daughers are almost 5, 11, and 13.
Regardless of us both not being responsible back then....I am the responsible one now. I am not after child support from him as much as I believe my children deserve the right to know whom their real father is. They deserve to know the medical situations behind his family history. They deserve to know why their father....doesn't claim to be nor love them. In my own mind...I think we were just like a dog and puppys that he dumped off. He never looked back. This does hurt people and children. His father (my children's granddad has already passed away and their grand mother is ill...I have begged him to let them know of the 3 girls he would not) Next week we will be going to court..I do not know what the outcome will be. What ever it is...WE, Me and my daughters will still hold up our head and keep on living our life the best way that we can. As far as the man....I don't know how he can sleep at night knowing that he left his children behind. I still praise him in my home and let the girls believe that he is a good man because he did help bring them into the world. They are all my blessings! If anyone has any ideas on this please let me know...I'm in SC and the children were conceived in Sc. I have spent out 3000.00 thus far on a lawyer that hasn't done anything. She first told me that she could do something and the children deserved it(within 3mths and promised me emergency child support) ...now after a year she has pretty much given up my case.(I had paid her in full for this case) I have turned it over to DSS for help. Thanks for listening.

 
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At 1:05 AM, April 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings, I am Wenseslaw, I live in hotmail.
I had sex with a woman one night, both agree to Fornicate Under the Concent of the King (F.U.C.K) but nobody mentioned anything about the child at this moment.
2 months after, the woman find out that she is pregnant and decided to have the child.
What can I do to prevent that woman from having the child?
Killing her is not a good answer.

 
At 11:02 PM, May 06, 2006, Blogger segundaesposa said...

"You can safely assume certain things about a married couple -- for example, that they at least have thought carefully about pregnancy, and how to handle it -- that doesn't apply for one-night stands and such."

Not always true. I know someone who had a very rocky relationship (this happens OFTEN), the husband left just six months after their wedding date...he came back to the house to talk things through and figure out what to do next...instead, the wife begged him to give her another chance...to stay in the house with her even if it meant they would go to a lawyer to work out their financials, etc...he stayed...the entire time they dated and they were married she was on the pill...she KNEW he did not want children. While they were trying to work things out, she was much nicer to him, etc. and he decided to give their relationship a break for a few months to see if they could work things out. Less than 3 weeks after he returned home, she was pregnant. Mind you, she told him she was on the pill, when in actuality, she had stopped taking the pill in order to get pregnant. Here we are two years later and he wants out. Once the baby was born, she went back to her old ways. She is now threatening him with the outrageous child support she will get in the hopes that this will scare him and make him stay with her once again. This has been their ENTIRE relationship. This is continuosly done by women when they have problems in their relationship...mind you, by sick, mentally incompetent women...but it is done. My husband and his ex for years did not have a good relationship...the same thing happened here...she continuosly complained about him going out, cheating, etc (no he did not cheat), yet after realizing that they were just becoming enemies, she got pregnant. Mind you, I do understand that the man can also keep it in his pants, he also believed that she was on the pill, etc...less than a year after their daughter was born, he left. Again, I do not in anyway agree with men not supporting children they want or even children they don't want, but I am tired of men being told they should've kept it in their pants, when the "poor woman" actually KNEW what she was doing and tried to get pregnant just to keep her husband. There are also so many cases of women who claim their ex-husbands were abusive, losers, lazy, etc...yet they not only had one child with them, but two, three or more...shouldn't those women who go to court and tell the judges their ex-husbands are all these things also be held responsible for putting their own agendas of keeping a man ahead of the welfare of their children? Their need to keep a man was more important than the impact a bad father (as many claim) would have on their children, yet nobody holds those women responsible. They only feel sorry for them. The system is completely sick. Something must be done.

As far as all the parents out there who pay child support for children that are not even theirs, there should be a law which forces hospitals to give DNA tests to babies when they are born. If not, at least, there should not be ANY child support order enforced until there is a DNA test performed. If a father shows up for a DNA test and the mother and child do not, there should NOT be any child support order until the mother and child are tested. If a mother and child show up, but the father does not, then and only then, should a child support order be enforced...yet once it is enforced, if the father takes a DNA test, regardless of WHEN that test is done, he should NOT be made to pay for a child that is not his. If anyone is concerned about the best interests of the child, then if the father is found not to be the father, the best interest of that child should not be that the alleged father continues to pay support, but that the state gets involved in the case to ensure that the mother is actually a fit parent...someone who lies or sleeps with more than one man where they can't figure out who the father of their child is, is not, by any means, a fit parent...and should never be called a fit mother.

 
At 6:30 PM, September 04, 2006, Blogger awomanspointofview said...

The current laws only serve to encourage women to take advantage of the system and the fathers of their children. You often hear women boast about it as a threat. "If he keeps up I'll just take his a$$ to court for support see how he likes that!" How can we as women fight for equal rights and then support laws like this? A man should not be forced into partenhood anymore than a woman, finacially or otherwise. Neither should a woman. If it's not equally agreed upon, the party deciding to have the child should bare all responsibility for the child.

 
At 9:24 PM, September 04, 2006, Blogger inmyshoes said...

Glad to see a womens point of view like yours. How about this scenerio - my husband conceived a baby during a durning a one night stand. Only once the child was 8 months old did he find out. Here's the kicker. Even though he had three children before the one night stand, he now owes this child so much support that our children have had to move from their friends and neighborhood, change schools, and ultimately change their standard of living. Apparently the courts feel that it's ok for my husband to pay so much in support for the other child that his family has to uproot and move because his child support payments are so high. Apparently the courts are not concerned with his other three children. And to think that my kids will suffer for the next 18 years for this one baby whom my husband will never have contact with. It was her decision to keep the baby, and my husband should pay support, but not at the expense of three other childrens lives!

 
At 2:22 PM, December 12, 2006, Blogger docatlas said...

At 12:02 AM, May 07, 2006, segundaesposa said...
As far as all the parents out there who pay child support for children that are not even theirs, there should be a law which forces hospitals to give DNA tests to babies when they are born. If not, at least, there should not be ANY child support order enforced until there is a DNA test performed. If a father shows up for a DNA test and the mother and child do not, there should NOT be any child support order until the mother and child are tested. If a mother and child show up, but the father does not, then and only then, should a child support order be enforced...yet once it is enforced, if the father takes a DNA test, regardless of WHEN that test is done, he should NOT be made to pay for a child that is not his. If anyone is concerned about the best interests of the child, then if the father is found not to be the father, the best interest of that child should not be that the alleged father continues to pay support, but that the state gets involved in the case to ensure that the mother is actually a fit parent...someone who lies or sleeps with more than one man where they can't figure out who the father of their child is, is not, by any means, a fit parent...and should never be called a fit mother.

That's a nice sentiment, but the fact remains that in most states, a man is required to pay support for any children that were conceived durning the marriage, even if DNA tests later prove that he is NOT the father.

Interestingly, in the states that abosolve him from such payments, the ex can be liable for repaying him any support he paid up to that point.

We're making some progress in this area, but a LOT more needs to be done.

 
At 5:07 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Bear said...

I just came across this blog posting and would like to tell of my own story.

At 18 years old, I was involved in a relationship with a girl who told me that she was on birth control. Later when the relationship wasn't working out, I bailed. Two months after the breakup she called me to tell me she was pregnant.

So I did what I thought was right (for the child) and tried to make the relationship work again.

During the pregnancy I would go with her to her Doctor's office for checkups, etc. While at one of the Doctor's visist, I jokenly made a comment about her getting pregnant on BC and the doctor immediately hinted to me that she hasn't been on BC for some time before the pregnancy occured. When I confronted her about this, she admitted to me that she stopped taking BC a couple of months after we started dating but 'forgot' to tell me.

Well, at any rate, we tried to make it work. When things didn't work and I was ready to walk out the door she would constantly threaten me about me paying child support, alimony, etc...

Well, one day came and I told her it was finally over and left and that I already had arranged with my attorney about child support, etc.

Things didn't stop there.

According to the Custody Order, I had to pay a specified amount of child support and would be allowed visition on days depending on how far we lived apart. My ex started making it very difficult for me to excercise my visitation with our daughter. Making up excuses why I couldn't pick up our daughter on my visitation days.

When frustrated about this, we went to court for my ex being in contempt with the visitation order and THE COURTS DID NOTHING ABOUT IT...IN FACT, IT WAS FROWNED UPON AS IF I WAS TAKING UP VALUABLE COURT TIME AND THAT THE EX WAS THE INNOCENT VICTIM BEING HARASSED.

Soon after the court hearing, the ex got married and moved from Texas to Colorado, almost overnight. When I tried to place a residential restriction on her moving out of state since it would cause me additional expenses and undue hardship between the relationship between my daughter and I, a court hearing was set. However, THE COURTS STILL ALLOWED HER TO MOVE TO COLORADO WITH MY DAUGHTER.

For 5 years, while living and going to school in Texas I made the hike up to Colorado to practice my visitation with my daughter. There were many time where I was at the doorstep and nobody was there for me to pick up our daughter, even when everything had already been arranged.

After my ex moved back to Texas with our duaghter, she took me back to court to increase child support and tried to eliminate visition all together. She argued that I had not been practicing my visitation according to the visitation order and that my daughter wanted nothing to do with me. I kepted a journal of all the visitation activities, which also included Police Complaint Reference for each time where the ex was in contempt. Even after presenting this to the judge, I WAS STILL THE BAD GUY.

She got her increase in child support the judge had place a temporary order on visitation whereby I had to visit out duaghter under supervision by a counselor and that I had to pay for the counselors fees. THIS WAS OUTRAGEOUS. Well, I did the visitation thing with the counselor.

Three months later we went back to court to address the visitation issue and the counselor couldn't find any evidence that I was an unfit father. The judge then set a 'standard' visition order in effect without me having to do so with a counselor present.

Now our daughter is 15 years old, her mother is on her 4 divorce and things are still as rocky as ever and I am looking ever so forward to the finish line.

How is this applicable to the subject on debate...This is my experience...

There is a BIG bias within the Family Courts today, especially in Texas. Guys are immediately the bad guy. It even felt like my own attorney knew I was doomed before the court hearing started. No such thing as credit being awarded for things fathers buy when the kids need them. No break awarded to guys when they have to pay for the trips to excercise visitation (even though it wasn't the guy who moved out of state). No such thing as the father getting a break when the mother alienates the father from the child by purposefully alienating the father's from their childrn (but the Courts have no problem for throwing the father in jail if they are in arrears).

Here is another little tit-bit. THE MORE CHILD SUPPORT MONEY THE STATE COLLECTS, THE MORE FEDERAL FUNDING THEY GET. So its obvious how the system can be so leaned towards doing wrong.

If the Courts threw the mother
in jail for purposefully alienating father's from their children, if the courts would ACTUALLY LISTEN to the father's side of the story during courts, if the Courts punished mother's for lying on stand and making false allegations against the fathers, then, and only then, might we have a more fair system.

But until then, the only suggestion I have for you guys out there... KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS...and if you can't then get a Vasectomy (remember you can get a reversal). ITS NOT WORTH THE HEADACHE AND BALL-N-CHAIN FOR THE NEXT EIGHTEEN YEARS.

Done venting...

JLW

 
At 2:59 AM, June 06, 2008, Blogger Jeff said...

http://departments.bloomu.edu/philosophy/pages/content/hales/articlepdf/dadsrights.pdf

the links are getting cut off - lame..

 
At 3:05 AM, June 06, 2008, Blogger Jeff said...

also read:
(for the way the law SHOULD be when a man wants to abort and the woman insists on keeping):
copied from dr. keith wiley's website..

The phrase "men's reproductive rights" is essentially an oxymoron. There is no such thing as men's reproductive rights. When a woman becomes pregnant, the man involved instantly becomes that woman's slave for all intent and purposes. She holds his future, his fate, his very life in her hands and can mold the rest of his life however she sees fit. It is as if she holds the strings and the man is a marionette and she can toy with him however she pleases. She can get an abortion, she can have a child and absolve the man of responsibility (for which I don't believe there is any legal support), or she can force the man to accept financial responsibility. She can't actually force the man to marry her, but from a financial point of view, this point is irrelevant.
I seem to be leaning toward something of a contradiction. I adamantly believe a woman should have sole decision-making power over her own body, yet I believe a man should have power over his own reproduction. How can these two issues be resolved? I have thought this through in considerable detail and I believe I have solved the problem. The solution is not one that will be adopted by our society in the near future. Nevertheless, it is a solution in principle, if not in practice.
In the case of a pregnancy, there are four possible scenarios: both parents want the child, neither parent wants the child, the man wants the child and the woman doesn't, or the woman wants the child and the man doesn't. Of these four scenarios, two of them are immediately moot. If both parents are in agreement, whether for or against having the child, there is no dilemma and therefore no issue to be resolved. That's easy enough. Of the remaining two scenarios, one of those is also quite clearly moot. If the man wants to keep the child and the woman doesn't, then I say tough luck for the man. He will just have to sow his oats elsewhere. He has absolutely no right to force the woman to undergo pregnancy and childbirth just so he can have a child.
Of course, it is the fourth scenario that concerns me so greatly. What is my solution to this problem? Let me begin by reiterating my belief that the woman must maintain full power over her own body. In an ideal relationship, the man and the woman would come to a mutual agreement even if they don't feel exactly the same way about the situation. It would be my hope that no woman would have a man's child without his permission. This demonstrates a horrible lack of respect for the man on the woman's part, to run off with his seed, as it were, and go reproduce this man's lineage without his permission.
The first document
However, I believe the man's right to refuse financial responsibility must be protected. Here's how this would work. The man would sign an official document stating that he gives no authorization and accepts no responsibility for this child. Obviously, the only way this can be considered fair to the woman is if there is a statute of limitations on this document. It must be signed by the man and the woman must be made aware of this fact early enough in the pregnancy that the woman can still reserve the option of getting an abortion. This wouldn't be a document that is signed by both the man and the woman because the woman could of course refuse to sign it. No, this document would solely involve the man.
Lest you accuse me of trying to defend all men's' right to abandon women with the financial burden of having a child, bare in mind that actually having the child is the woman's choice. She can always opt to get an abortion and therefore be as free of the financial burden as the man.
This perfectly solves the problem. No one is stuck with financial responsibility for a child unless they choose to accept that responsibility for themselves. The bottom line is that no one else can force such a tremendous financial toll on another person. The man can't force it on the woman (because she can get an abortion) and the woman can't force it on the man (because he can refuse to authorize the pregnancy). As I stated before, this must all be done early enough that the woman can still choose to get an abortion. If the man decided at 32 weeks that he didn't want a child, too bad, he's stuck with it at that point.

The second document
There is only one problem with my proposed solution. This "document" which I have described could motivate a woman to conceal her pregnancy from the man until it is too late for him to sign the document because it is too late for her to get a safe abortion. Let me first respond to this by harshly denouncing the ethical pillar of any woman who would purposefully deceive a man about the pregnancy of his own child. For a woman to do such a thing demonstrates such immaturity, such a lack of fundamental respect and decency, that a woman who does this basically shows through her actions that she directly lacks the responsibility and maturity to have a child of her own in the first place. Nevertheless, there are almost certainly many women would do such a despicable thing and protection for men must be designed for this possible situation.
Basically, what is needed is another document that proves that the man has been notified of the pregnancy early on. This could very easily be incorporated into the first document of course. This would involve the man signing this second document stating that he is aware of the pregnancy at a particular number of weeks into the pregnancy. By signing this document, he is acknowledging his awareness of the pregnancy, and therefore acknowledging his ability to make early decisions about the pregnancy with enough time for the woman to act on the basis of his decision. If a woman could not produce a document (presumably stored with the state in addition to a personal copy in order to prevent plagiarism) proving that she had notified the man (because she had deliberately deceived the man) then she would forfeit the right to force the man to accept financial responsibility (of course he could still choose to do so if he wanted).

ps i'm an extremely liberal person politically and i'm really appalled at the so-called 'feminists' on this site who display such lack of thoughtfulness on this issue..

 
At 5:59 PM, August 15, 2008, Blogger cthylsn said...

Wow, Jeff
You must have gotten hit pretty hard with a support order. You used some women for sex and now you are a dead beat dad wanna be.

 

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