I know that upon deciding to dissolve a relationship where children are involved, there are multiple factors to consider when deciding custody, visitation, and financial support. Every situation is different. Every relationship is different. Every parent is different.
Some parents can afford to provide more financial support than others, to be sure. Some parents have alternative, mutually agreed upon agreements that work for them.
But one thing that is the same across the board? If you can afford a fancy watch, a new sports car, tropical vacations, a pair of jet skis, or any combination of the aforementioned, then you can fucking afford to support your child. Full stop.
If you can afford any/all of those things, and you choose to skirt your financial responsibility to the child you helped create, then you are a deadbeat, an asshole, and a douchebag.
And I’m calling you out.
I’m not specifying gender here, because this is the damn truth regardless of whether you are “Mom” or “Dad.” And considering that in 2013, 1 out of 6 custodial parents was a father, this is not a one-sided issue.
It’s a responsibility issue, a human rights issue, because all kids deserve food, shelter, clothing, and basic opportunities.
I have seen family members, close friends, and acquaintances struggle to meet the basic needs of their children while working two full-time jobs because the other parent was missing in action. Not just physically — though single parenting even with financial support is hard enough — they had completely dodged their responsibilities and left one parent to manage entirely on their own.
I’ve literally sat helpless, as a flat-broke college student, while my dear friend sat on the phone asking for another extension on the power bill because she wasn’t getting paid for another week and and her twins were sick and needed medicine. She had to choose between medicine and electricity. She wasn’t trying to extend the deadline so she could take advantage of a sale at Kohl’s. She needed to be able to buy cough syrup and children’s Tylenol while keeping the lights on.
And yet, you will always find folks who are willing to jump to the defensive. “There’s two sides to every story,” they say. In most cases, I would agree with you. But if you are employed, if you are receiving a paycheck, and you have a child, then you need to help support that child. Period. There are no “buts” about it.
And newsflash, raising children costs money. Lots of money.
If you are not currently employed, and you have a child, then you need to be doing everything in your power to find a consistent source of verifiable income, so you can help shoulder the cost of raising that child. In the meantime, mow your neighbor’s lawn or paint your grandma’s house for some funds, so you can contribute. And when you have cash, you should make sure you are using that money to help the primary parent, whether it is purchasing diapers directly or sending a money order in the damn mail. That’s what parents do. We rally. We make it work until we can make it better. Just do something.
I’ve already mentioned that support agreements will differ. So I don’t want to hear it about “but he only makes enough to support himself!” or “He has other children now too.” Well, so what? One kid doesn’t stop needing food and medical care because you don’t rake in six figures. Most parents do not bring in that kind of money, and your support payment isn’t based upon some magical figure. Or maybe you have gone on to have more children. That is your right, and I have absolutely no issue with someone expanding their family after divorce/breakup, but I do have a problem with knowing you have children who already need you….and then pulling the “I don’t have enough money to go around” card. That is a weak-ass argument.
You also don’t get to dictate how the custodial parents spends their money. Just because you contribute the amount allotted by the court system to help financially support your offspring, does not mean you get to dictate how that money is spent or what the other parent does in their off-time. That’s not how it works.
As long as your child is provided for and well-loved, you get no say in how your child’s primary parent manages their finances. You can rest assured that if your child is fed, clothed, and sheltered, your money was well-spent. (We don’t need to hear your anecdotal evidence about your cousin’s aunt’s best friend who was independently wealthy because of government assistance and child support. Your alternative facts have been refuted time and time again, and nobody is here for that nonsense.)
So stop thinking in terms of “my money” and start thinking in terms of “my child,” so that you don’t appear to be such a selfish jerk.
The bottom line? Pay pay pay pay pay your damn child support. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t ready to be a parent. It doesn’t matter if you hate your child’s other parent. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have money for your own hobbies. It doesn’t matter if you live 2 blocks away or 2,000 miles away. You know what you need to do, so do it. Your child didn’t ask to be brought into this world, but they are here now, and whether or not you choose to be an active, engaged, co-parent (I hope you do!) doesn’t negate the fact that you need to do your part here. You need to help out. You need to show respect. You need to pay your dues. On time. Every month. Without fail.
Money isn’t everything, but it’s the only acceptable tender for grocery bills, daycare fees, and rent. So step up to the plate.