With quite a bit of interest, I read the article Expert Says That Poll Results Show “Crack”In Court System in Divorce360.com today, expecting to see some more disparaging remarks about dads not paying support. I wasn’t shocked. According to the poll, 43% of custodial parents don’t receive a dime of child support.
Sadly, my anecdotal evidence probably bears this out. I meet quite a few dads and moms, with and without “custodial” care of their kids, and probably close to half the single parents that I know with kids get little or no child support at all. However, there is a lot more to this statistic than meets the eye.
The first item that leaps to mind is the thought of “custodial”. By definition the custodial parent is that parent that has the child or children half time or more. By tradition, this means “mother” in this country. Even though the number of fathers that have the custodial tag applied to them is surely on the rise (ask Kevin Federline), still, Mom still rules the roost, and the courts, when it comes to parenting. In fact, I’ve seen a case where a father actually HAD his son living with him full time was still paying child support to his ex – at the same level he was when his son was staying with his ex-wife.
Hopefully that was an extreme case, but somehow, I don’t think so.
The realization, however, that I finally came to over some time is that the statistics are not the complete story, and that these individual stories are the most important facts of all. No stat can give you enough information, for either divorced men or women. Before you jump to conclusions based on the raw facts presented here, think critically about circumstances as well.
Many, many years ago, my father used to take me to the window of a place that I lived to look out on the city below at night. He would gesture at and talk about the seemingly endless number of lights that we saw, flickering on and off and tell me something along the lines of “there are millions of stories in the naked city…you are just one of them.” Years later, I was told that he was referring to a classic radio program from his youth, and I realized exactly the lesson that he was trying to teach.
The world is a very big place, he was saying. All things in context.
I’m still no fan of deadbeat dads or moms.
But my father is a very smart man.