MO: Decriminalizing Falling Behind on Child Support
Missouri has just passed a new state law which decriminalizes non-payment of child support for parents provided that they don’t have a serious criminal history.
An alternative to jail, parents who fall behind on their child support obligations will be enrolled in a program that provides vocational training. If appropriate for the circumstances, substance-abuse counseling will also be made available.
While a small step in the appropriate direction from the unnecessarily punitive measure in place, which either discourages recovery and actually makes it much more difficult (if not impossible) to obtain employment and make money in order to begin to catch up on obligations – it’s not nearly enough. However, the fact that it is no longer an automatic felony is incredibly helpful. Keep in mind, though, if a parent is behind by more than a year, mother or father can still face a felony conviction.
Sadly, but unsurprisingly, I direct your attention to the headline that only singles out “DADS” again, by calling them the tired, overused label of “DEADBEAT.” The writer/editors allow this even though the reality is, by gender, mothers are significantly more likely to default on their child support payments in part or in whole than are fathers.
The law helps both mothers and father who find themselves behind on their child support obligations. It would seem that Steve failed to understand that reality.
Kudos to the Kansas City Star for doing the headline a little more evenhandedly, but again using the misapplied “deadbeat” label. Click HERE to see it.
They need to do away with the “deadbeat” moniker, particularly in an economy as horrible as ours. Deadbeats are people who willfully choose not to pay child support. Reputable studies have shown this to be the case in an underwhelming number of situations.