Deadbeat parents get a bad rap—and the ones who can afford to pay the child support they owe should. But what's really going on in their minds that allow them to abandon their own flesh and blood? Here's some insight into the mind of a deadbeat parent.
21 Reasons Why Deadbeat Parents Bail
- They believe they can't provide for their children.
- They believe their kids are better off without them.
- Some have no source of income.
- Some were told by their ex's that they should stay away.
- Some don't have any stability in their lives and/or move around a lot.
- Some have requested child support modification through the courts and been denied.
- Some are under the influence of others who say they're worthless.
- Some are under the influence of people—such as a new spouse—who'd rather they not have contact with their kids.
- Some believe they were tricked into being parents.
- Others may have wanted their partner to get an abortion, and now refuse to pay child support out of spite.
- Some deadbeat parents believe the custodial parent doesn't need the money.
- Some believe they shouldn't have to pay child support if the custodial parent doesn't have to account for how it's spent.
- Some refuse to pay because they believe the system is unfair.
- Some are unable to afford the amount of child support they owe.
- Some deadbeat parents—fathers and mothers, alike—owe so much back child support that they'll never catch up.
- Some believe they won't get caught or face consequences for unpaid child support.
- Others have had subsequent children and can't afford to support them all financially.
- Some deadbeat parents won't pay child support because their parenting time has been cut off by the custodial parent.
- Some are intentionally under-employed (which is also called "voluntary impoverishment") or work under the table in order to avoid paying child support.
- In some cases, a technical or human error has caused support payments to stop being taken out of the parent's paycheck.
- Most, I believe, feel inadequate to participate in their kids' lives, for one reason or another.
What to Do if Your Ex is a Deadbeat
If your ex frequently falls behind on child support or doesn't pay at all, you have two main responsibilities: 1) Letting your children know that it's not their fault, and 2) Earning enough money for you and your children to live on. Both of these responsibilities are things that you shouldn't have to do—because the other parent should be providing support, both emotionally and financially. But the reality is that he (or she) isn't, so you have to pick up the slack.
How to Become a Reformed Deadbeat
If you're reading this as a parent who's behind on child support—or who has never paid—know that you can rectify the situation. Contact your local Office of Child Support Enforcement and explain that you'd like to begin paying child support. They will set up a payment plan with you and even make arrangements for the money to be taken directly from your paycheck (which is also known as wage garnishment).
You may think that it's not a big deal to your child, but it is. Up until this point, not paying, underpaying, or inconsistently paying child support has unintentionally given your child the impression that you don't care. Most of the time, that's not true at all, but it's important for you to understand that that's the message your child internalizes, and it hurts.