In the article Shared Parenting vs. Child Support, we detailed the harsh realities that are the financial incentives that are a substantial roadblock to sweeping changes to child custody laws.  The goal of such changes would be to implement a rebuttal presumption of shared custody.  Legislatures and those in the divorce industry can deny it all they want, but the realities are indisputable.

In the article Enforcement of Custody Orders, we spoke briefly of how there are Federal Laws that are supposed to be used to enforce both child support and child custody.  However, that law is almost exclusively used for the enforcement of child support and almost never (if not NEVER) used to enforce custody order/agreement compliance.  The reason?  There’s no money in it for the states such as there is for child support enforcement.

So, it comes as no surprise to us that there is another, amongst a great many sources, that demonstrate that child support compliance is highest when custody order (parenting time agreement) compliance is highest.

In a 2006 issue of Children’s Voice Magazine, we find the following information which goes right to the heart of the matter we deal with often:

The government spends roughly $4-billion on child support enforcement while at the same time it spends only $10 million on visitation enforcement. The government, using all of our tax dollars, spends 400-times more money on collection efforts than it does making sure that children get to spend time with the parent, usually a father, when the other parent is willfully violating custody orders.

We see this reflected in the way each matter is dealt with on a regular basis in the mainstream media, on a local level, on a state level, and even on a federal level.

While I can think of no heavily government financed programs that enforce increasingly punitive punishments for parents willfully disobeying custody orders, we are bombarded with highly publicized, law enforcement efforts that deploy to enforce child support orders, including but not limited to:

  • Police Departments fanning out all over town to arrest people behind on child support.
  • Local police departments, newspapers, and television news programs broadcasting “deadbeat dads” lists and other public shaming efforts (even though mothers default in part or in whole on child support orders, if they have any, at a rate that is almost double that of fathers as a gender).
  • Leins on personal property and foreclosing on same.
  • Loss of professional licenses.
  • Loss of other licenses, including hunting, fishing, and most importantly – driver’s licenses.
  • Long-term incarceration.
  • Interception of paychecks, tax returns, bank accounts and more.
  • In some states – Sheriff’s Departments can now employ electronic monitoring and surveillance of people behind on child support.

To our knowledge, there exists no such efforts by federal, state, and local governments to enforce custody orders.  If you don’t believe us, go down to your local police department and ask them to help you enforce a visitation order.  They’ll tell you, flat out, “no” while giving you the rehearsed reply that it’s a “civil matter” and “you’ll have to take her back to court.” Those same police officers will get excited to don their gear, weapons and all, and head out to round up people who are behind on child support, though!

This funding and these efforts are dramatically tilted in favor of mothers and against fathers as the former has primary or sole custody in over 80% of all situations involving custody of children.

In the event you weren’t already aware, 3 of the top reasons people fall behind on child support are:

  1. Unemployment.
  2. An unexpected, serious health situation.
  3. Custodial interference.

The percentage of people who have the ability to pay and willfully fail to do so is extremely small.  Think about that the next time you’re looking at a deadbeat list and seeing seasonal workers, janitors, manufacturers, and other laborers with child support arrearages that they can’t possibly pay.

Also, think about this – there is but one reason why state laws make a point of letting everyone know that child support and child custody are two separate matters…

  • Connecting the two would mean allocating more resources towards enforcement of custody orders.
  • Given the cause-and-effect relationship between the two, financial incentives for enforcement of child support matters would dwindle, substantially impacting the financial benefits to the child support industry.

We also want you to think about these grim realities when someone operating within the divorce and custody industries trots out meaningless phrases like “the best interests of the children.” It’s much, much more about the money than many people are willing to learn, realize, or admit.

Better, more meaningful enforcement of custody orders, parenting agreements, and related schedules will increase child support compliance and truly benefit the entire family.  It certainly will do a better job of it than jail and all of the other punitive measures which serve to make earning a living even more difficult in the aftermath of a divorce involving children.