It's never popular to defend a man accused of being a "deadbeat dad." That very phrase conjures up images of a man who shirks his financial responsibilities to cavort across the country, spend his money on wine, and leave his child and his baby momma alone and hurting.
Of course we're supposed to believe that image. The child support offices want us, too. Otherwise how could they justify using our tax dollars to pursue these criminals and get mom (and the child support office) their fair share of dad's wages. Sometimes it isn't that pat. Sometimes there are (gasp!) extenuating circumstances in which a man truly is unable to pay his child support.
Take a current case in Georgia where an Iraqi war veteran with one child who got a little behind on child support payments after losing his job is now serving time in PRISON for failure to comply with court-ordered child support.
In an intact family, when a dad loses his job, the family scrounges, they scrimp, they go into debt. They do what they can. They don't try to get blood from a stone. It's impossible to do so and in this economy, the fact that any father should be sent to jail for not being able to pay his support is a failure by our legal system in every way possible.
Fathers are people, too, not endless ATM machines. To add insult to injury, this man served our country and this is how we repay him?
"Here is someone who for the vast majority of his adult life served his country in the military and kept up with his child support payments," Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, said. "But then he fell upon hard times and fell behind in his payments, and the state's response is to send him to jail."
It's horrible. It's wrong. And it needs to change. Our family courts need to be reformed and they need to treat cases individually and quickly. There has to be an easy way for men like this veteran to lower their child support obligations without ending up in contempt. These are hard times for everyone and no one is suggesting he be allowed to shirk responsibility entirely, but holding an unemployed man accountable for a monthly payment that was calculated based on his income seems horrifically unfair.
Also: How is a man in jail ever going to get the money to pay his child support debt? Something has to give.
Do you think this dad should be in jail?
Image via Facebook