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Sept 26, 2023 – The Dead Beat Dad

Gene C. Colman Introduction: Let’s continue with our examination of Prof. Neilsen’s work. We continue to present excerpts from Prof. Linda Nielsen’s latest book, “Myths and Lies About Dads”. As we progress through her book, we gain further insights. Wow – of course I knew that, we tend to say as we nod in approval to her findings. We come to realize that it’s those myths, stereotypes and outright lies about dads that tend to form powerful blockages against legislating a rebuttable presumption of Equal Shared Parenting. And while Prof. Nielsen not only shatters those myths, she expertly amasses a wealth of solid social science data that supports the key importance of both parents in their children’s lives. Throughout, the bolding and italics are mine.

In this week’s newsletter, we present another excerpt from Chapter Five:

For those parents who do have child support orders, if we count divorced and never married men together, about half of them pay every cent, 25% pay most and 25% pay nothing. Most men who pay nothing were never married to their children’s mother. These dads are generally living in poverty and suffering from high rates of incarceration, substance abuse, and mental health problems. What’s important here is that, if these men could earn enough money to pay what is due, the amount paid would be so small that only 20% of their children would be lifted out of poverty. 31 So, yes, there are “deadbeat” dads. And there are deadbeat moms who do not pay their children’s father what is due. In fact, women are no more likely to pay up than men.

But if we’re only talking about divorced dads, the deadbeat myth runs out of gas. 25 Only 20% of divorced dads pay none of what is due. On average, parents are supposed to pay about $5,800 a year. The average paid is $5,200. Of course richer parents pay far more than this because child support payments are based on each parent’s income. To put this in perspective, child support money only accounts for about 15% of the mother’s total income. So why are some divorced dads not paying in full or paying nothing at all? Because, according to the census data, most of them don’t have the money. For example, some have lost their jobs or are earning less than what they were earning at the time of the divorce. Still, 80% of them are paying some or all of what is due. 23,24

So some divorced fathers have the money but refuse to pay? Yes. Shame on them. But if we keep reinforcing the falsehood that most divorced dads are deadbeats, then shame on us.

Click on the book here to easily order.

Stay tuned to upcoming ESP Thoughts of the Day for more insightful excerpts from Prof. Nielsen’s book.

Gene C. Colman comments further

Many years ago I was sitting in Family Court while Justice X [not named] was viciously berating a guy, repeatedly calling him a “dead beat dad”. When court adjourned, I went out to talk to the poor soul. He had lost his job. Justice X had so thoroughly intimdidated him and demeaned him that this self repped fellow could not even open his mouth.

The “dead beat dad” myth still has legs. The data really runs counter to the myth. But it’s these sorts of myths and stereotypes that it make it so difficult for men in our family law system.

Link to Gene C. Colman’s Equal Shared Parenting Web Page

Link to past issues of the ESP Thought of the Day publication

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