Spotsylvania ‘deadbeat’ dads?

The idea is borrowed from

Butler County

,

Ohio

, which received national attention for the unorthodox method.

The very fact that we are resorting to such peculiar methods of law enforcement should alert us that something is wrong. We don’t use pizza boxes to catch murderers or bank robbers. We don’t circulate faces of egregious tax evaders to frighten the general population into paying their taxes. Government has embarked on a new and dangerous enterprise to extract money from citizens, including many who have done nothing to owe it.

The entire child-support system has been hijacked by special interests, principally feminists and lawyers. Child support was designed for parents who willfully abandon their children. It has been perverted into a system for forcing parents to pay for the stealing of their own children.

Child support is now demanded from people labeled “deadbeats” without reference to a host of unanswered questions: Under what circumstances can an order be entered against a citizen? How much can a citizen be required to pay? Who decides how much must be paid? Who can receive child support? What can the money can be used for? What ensures that the money is spent on the children? Why were the children separated from their parent in the first place?

No government or academic study ever documented a problem of parents not paying child support. In fact, reputable scholars like Sanford Braver of Arizona State University and even the government’s own studies have documented that there is no such problem. Government claims of nonpayment are not based on compiled figures, because no compiled figures exist. Scurrilous claims are fabricated from surveys of custodial parents. The Census Bureau simply asked mothers what they were receiving.

In fact, none of the parents appearing on

Virginia

‘s “10 Most Wanted” posters have ever been convicted of any crime. Parents accused of nonpayment are seldom tried by a jury of their peers, because the purpose is not to convict a criminal but to shake down parents whose children have first been confiscated by divorce courts.

Even the FBI, on its 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list, grants its targets the presumption of innocence by qualifying its accusations with the word “alleged.” The current No. 1 “is wanted for allegedly shooting to death three people.” But

Virginia

‘s 10 Most Wanted child-support list simply convicts citizens by proclamation and without trial.

Law enforcement is supposed to be about bringing individual lawbreakers to justice. What we have here is a machine for creating instant, unconvicted criminals from among a class of law-abiding citizens: parents.

The measure is intended “as a deterrent for those starting to get behind.” “They might want to pay it before they get their names on pizza boxes,” says Spotsylvania Sheriff Howard Smith. In other words, the extreme cases depicted on the boxes are not the real targets. The real aim is to spread fear among the larger population in order to collect more money, which in turn fills not children’s stomachs but government coffers.

The best child support is a two-parent family or a shared parenting arrangement where children receive the emotional and financial support of both parents. But child support acts as a subsidy on single-parent homes. It pays mothers to divorce or bear children out of wedlock. Economist Robert Willis calculates that only between one-fifth and one-third of child-support payments are actually spent on the children. The rest is profit for the custodial parent. This creates “an incentive for divorce by the custodial mother.”

This entire alleged problem is created by

Virginia

‘s destructive system of child custody, which promotes parental wars for sole custody of children. Shared parenting would improve both the well-being of children and child-support compliance. Researchers have found a positive correlation between the frequency of a parent’s contact with a child and the payment of child support. The more frequent, regular, and flexible the time a parent is permitted to spend with his child, the more likely he is to pay child support in full and on time.

What Virginia’s children need is the love, guidance, and attention of their fathers–the same fathers who are forcibly kept away by divorce courts and then plundered by the state’s dishonest child-support machine.

Stephen Baskerville is president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.

Free Lance Star (Fredricksburg Va.)

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