The Guilty Husband
In the past decade or so, every divorce of which I’ve been aware has been initiated by the wife. That’s hardly a broad or representative sample, but I do wonder whether the post-divorce cards are so heavily stacked in women’s favor that it affects their understanding of and behavior toward their marriages. With this sort of cultural and legal reality (and anecdotal evidence suggests that it is a reality), it’s not surprising that the divorce coven would expand:
Some of the fathers on Illinois’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ “wanted” list got there in the following manner — the wife or girlfriend ended the relationship, left with the kids, and then went to the state to get public assistance. Illinois DHFS then went after the father for child support to repay the cost of the assistance. The father — against whom no wrongdoing has been charged — has probably been deprived of custody of his kids and may not even have any visitation rights, and might not even know where his kids are.
While paying the state, the father also has to hire an attorney and fight his way through the courts just to attempt to see his children. Even if he is awarded visitation rights, recalcitrant mothers often flout these orders with impunity. Low- and moderate-income fathers frequently must choose between paying for legal action to obtain contact with their children, and risk jail time for not paying child support, or paying child support and losing the ability to have contact with their children. These men are hardly “walking away” from their “families and responsibilities.”
Sometimes a father in this situation has been paying the teenage children directly because the mother has been using the child support for everything but the children. Nevertheless, the father is saddled with arrearages and declared a “deadbeat.” When he presents his stack of canceled checks, the state says, “Sorry that money you paid is a gift — you still owe us child support to reimburse the cost of the public assistance.” It is irrelevant that the money was used by the children to buy food, clothing and the necessities of life.