Should We Reform Child Support?
Phyllis Schafley comments on the President’s Father’s day message and his call for child support reform in her latest column We Should Reform Child Support. The unintended consequences of ‘get tough’ legislation aimed at the largely mythical ‘deadbead dad’ is that non-custodial parents who lose their jobs or their health and cannot work are as likely to end up in debtor’s prison as those who willfully shirk their parental responsibilities. Furthermore, no-fault divorce creates perverse incentives to destroy imperfect marriages unilaterally with most of the financial consequences falling on the injured party – the father, as most divorces are initiated by wives. This is an acid test of public policy: Do the consequences flowing from a legislative mandate actually occur, and are there other, unintended ones which do more harm than the good done by the legislation in question. If child support laws are intended to further child welfare, the answer would appear to be in the negative, as is also the case with the collateral damage caused by divorce law ‘liberalization.’
Perhaps the President’s call for reform will kick-start an overdue national debate on a family life in America and what the government can, and should or should not do to promote it.