When the economy crashed years ago back in late 2008, like everyone else I had a serious disruption in my income. My main business, my primary source of income at that time, lost 60% of its client base in less than three months. It was brutal.
During this time, I was actually late paying my child support / alimony payments for the first time in my life. As a result, the friendly government put a gun to my head and made me attend a “class” on “budgeting” for “divorced parents”. Never mind the fact that I actually teach budgeting to companies and individuals as a business consultant, and my lateness had nothing to do with my budgeting skills, but because of a historically significant system-wide economic failure that rocked the entire world. But hey, whoever said life wasn’t ironic?
So, irony: I’m sitting there in this “class” wearing my business suit along with a bunch of very rough-looking unemployed deadbeat dads (and two deadbeat moms) while being taught budgeting skills by a little old lady who made a fourth of my income and possessed about a twentieth of my business acumen. But hey, it was either go to the class or go to prison. Because The Government Is Here To Help.
More irony: As the little old lady is lecturing all of us on basic budgeting skills I had already mastered decades prior, I can’t hear a thing because I’m too busy checking out one of the deadbeat moms because she’s about 23 and smoking hot.
So during the milk-and-cookies break, I click out of business mode and into Blackdragon mode. I get up, pull off my tie and put it in my pocket, unbutton the top two buttons of my shirt, then walk over to little miss 23 year-old and say hi.
We talk and I do my usual thing. Soon, she’s relaying to me a very interesting story describing why the government was forcing her at gunpoint to take this “class”. She later relayed the story to the entire group. This was many years ago so my memory is hazy on the exact numbers, but the gist of the story is this.
Women Get Screwed Too
A few years back, she had a boyfriend. Like most people her age do, she stupidly had a child with him. Fortunately she was in the military, so she had an income that was enough to support the child. So far, so good.
However, being in the American military during the Bush/Obama era is a raw deal. She was suddenly called up to go to Iraq to go kill brown people because the neocons must rule the world. She didn’t want to go, but she had no choice, she was in the army. (Or was it the marines? Don’t remember. Women in the marines tend to be way hotter than women in the army. But I digress.)
Obviously her new baby couldn’t go with her, so the child went to the boyfriend while she served her 15 month tour of duty. Sad, but so far, so good.
Problem. While she’s gone, boyfriend decides she won’t make a good mother because she’s at war. I don’t know the details, but he files the proper paperwork and the government agrees. Because she’s thousands of miles away shooting at brown people, she’s a Bad Mother. Because she’s in the desert somewhere in Iraq, her ability to legally fight the process is severely hampered to say the least.
Long story short, government awards baby daddy sole physical and legal 100% custody. That means he’s in complete control of all decisions regarding raising the child, but she must now pay him child support. Fair? Of course not. This happens to men all the time. Interesting that now it was happening to a woman.
I’m not an expert on this next part, but when you’re in the military in a war zone, you get hazard pay, which is many times your normal pay. I think she said she was getting paid something like $80,000 a year. (Again, I could be wrong; some of you military guys may need to correct my numbers.) Whatever, it was a lot of money for an uneducated woman in her early twenties.
Child support payments are based on your current income. In most countries/states, it’s simply a calculation based on your income and possibly the income of the other parent. So her monthly child support was based on her current high hazard pay. The monthly checks she started sending to now ex-boyfriend to support a baby she couldn’t see and didn’t even have custody of were massive.
But at least she was able to afford the child support. She was making a lot of money and had no real bills to speak of during her time in Iraq.
Then her tour ended and she returned home. Her income instantly dropped to a third (or fourth?) of what it was. Suddenly she was unable to pay her child support payments. She started falling behind.
The government doesn’t like that. More importantly, they don’t care why you can’t pay. You pay, or you go to prison. Pick one, you greedy deadbeat. Don’t give us this “why” shit.
The nice, understanding government who is Here To Help Us garnished her wages, suspended her driver’s license, and hauled her into court multiple times. She had to have her new boyfriend drive her to the class because she was no longer allowed to operate a car. Needless to say, this also negatively affected her ability to earn money.
All because she couldn’t pay her artificially inflated child support to feed Dick Cheney’s neocon empire to support a baby she had no custody over and an ex-boyfriend who didn’t even work.
She tried to explain the above circumstances to the government, and she even had official government military records to back up everything she was saying. The government’s response? Fuck you. You pay, or you go to prison. We don’t care about why you can’t. We don’t care it wasn’t your fault. We don’t care you served your country. We don’t care. Pay your loser ex-boyfriend who stole your child while you were doing your duty. Or go to jail. Fucking greedy deadbeat. Don’t you know it’s All About The Children?
I don’t know what became of her after our very useful class. At the time of the class she was working on an “adjustment” where perhaps she would be allowed to pay a little less child support (though probably still more than she could afford).
Her story was very eye-opening for me. I had already heard of many such horror stories from dads, but this was the first time I had seen it affect a mom.
Let me be clear. I am not against the concept of child support. I do believe and agree that you are 50% financially responsible for any child you bring into the world, at least barring very unusual circumstances. I’m happy to pay my child support every month because I love my children. Note I’m talking about child support here. I am not talking about alimony or spousal support…those I completely oppose. (I thought women were strong and independent and didn’t need free money from some guy they were married to years ago?!?)
What I am opposed to is the government gun to your head. I am opposed to government telling you exactly how much child support you will pay and when you will pay it and how you will pay it. I am opposed to the government being completely inflexible, bureaucratic, irrational, and downright evil when said child support cannot be paid for legitimate reasons.
Child support is fine. The gun to your head is not. I’ve heard horror stories that turn my stomach, and as you can see from the above example, even women are not immune.