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January 27, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The antipathy for gender equality and, by extension, fathers, in this article continues (Babble, 1/22/16).

Recall that the writer, Chaunie Brusie urges readers to ask the question “should fathers have the right to ask for child support?” That is, if a father has been named the primary custodial parent by a family court, should he have the right to receive child support from the child’s mother?

Now, most people would consider the answer to that question obvious for a number of reasons.  The first is that all children need support; they can’t support themselves, so adults need to do the job.  And since two people brought the child into the world, both should bear the burden of its care and financial support.  That’s perhaps the very core of all child support law.

The second is the concept of fairness and gender equality.  If we demand support from non-custodial fathers, then we should do the same from non-custodial mothers.  Fair is fair, right?

Another is the notion of responsibility.  Both parents are responsible for the child’s existence, and the decision to have a child is necessarily the decision to provide for and protect it.  That’s not a job for others, it’s a job for the parents who elected to conceive a child and bring it into the world.

Of course I fully understand that many people ignore the above considerations.  Many parents aren’t responsible and many births aren’t planned.  Many parents don’t support their kids and many don’t care about the rights of the child or those of the other parent.  But the principles remain, irrespective of how parents treat them in individual cases.

But however obvious and fair those principles may be, Chaunie Brusie isn’t having them.  To her, it’s at best an open question whether fathers should receive child support from mothers.  And to that end, she recruits one Philippe Morgese to her cause.

As I mentioned on Monday, Morgese is an unabashed hypocrite.  He’s one of those Brave New World male feminists who can twist himself into some pretty tight intellectual knots justifying his misandry.  His difficulties boil down to his frank willingness to demand that men take on traditionally female jobs, like childcare, but receive none of the traditionally female benefits (like child support) for doing so.  Predictably, he reinforces his intellectual dishonesty by making the traditional demand of fathers that they “man up,” which is code for “don’t make the same demands that women make in the same situation.”

“As a man, we should work harder if we need to,” he says. “We are the natural provider. Since most woman who have kids tend to lose out on job opportunities to care for their kids, they often make less or find work that can’t support themselves, let alone an additional child support.”

It’s not a terribly coherent argument.  Actually, it’s not coherent at all.  According to Morgese, for some unexplained reason, because mothers often opt for doing childcare at the expense of earning, fathers with primary custody shouldn’t receive child support from mothers.  As a blue-collar client of mine used to say, “That don’t make no damn sense!”

For some reason, in order to absolve non-custodial mothers of their obligation to help support the children they chose to bring into the world, custodial fathers must, like Boxer the horse in Orwell’s Animal Farm, “work harder.”  NC dads of course already do that.  Census Bureau data show that custodial fathers earn over 50% more than custodial mothers, a fact none of us is surprised to learn that Morgese doesn’t know.

But nowhere does Morgese explain why those fathers should work still more simply to relieve the mother of their child from paying to support it.  It’s clear he thinks that doing so is an end in itself, neither to be questioned nor explained, but many of us are more exacting.  We want to know why he believes that mothers, solely by virtue of their sex, should be relieved of the responsibility of contributing to the support of their children.

And nowhere does Morgese address the problem of what ever-increasing workloads for their fathers mean for kids.  After all, the more a custodial parent works, the less he sees his child and the less effective a parent he is.  So Morgese’s brief for longer and longer hours at work for custodial dads is equally a brief for less contact between father and child, something that’s well-known to be detrimental to children’s well-being.

Like all attacks on fathers, the subject of children’s welfare appears nowhere either in Morgese’s comments or Brusie’s article.  No, their interests are two and two alone — increasing mothers’ privileges and fathers’ obligations.

Having been in the thick of things as a single dad, he also points out that sadly, child support and custody can be used as a weapon of revenge to an ex. “I never asked for anything from [my daughter’s] mother except her time,” Morgese explains. “It doesn’t cost much to raise a kid if you are already supporting yourself. Kids are not meant to be a financial obligation.”

He’s right of course.  Custody and child support are often used as weapons against ex-spouses.  But if that’s his argument against fathers receiving child support, he must assume that they’re the only ones wielding those weapons, a notion that’s patently untrue.  The fact is that mothers get primary custody and child support about 82% of the time.  If anyone’s using custody and child support as weapons, it’s mothers, but the entire notion ignores the fact that, once again, children need support to live.

He’s also right that, in fact, one child makes little difference financially to an employed adult.  Of course it depends on the child.  Special needs children or those with serious and ongoing ailments may be much more of a financial burden than other kids, but generally, Morgese’s correct.  Indeed, it’s a point I’ve made myself many times.

But claiming that a child doesn’t demand a lot financially is irrelevant to whether a parent owes it a duty of support.  Again, the law is clear on the point.  Parents willingly took on the obligation of supporting the child when they decided to have it, and they can’t opt out just because they want to or, as Morgese and Brusie would have it, because one is a woman.

I suppose Brusie figured Morgese’s comments were so persuasive that she needed to add little to them.  That’s a good thing, since what she does add is silly to the point of incoherence, even if she does say that fathers should be permitted to “ask for” child support “in certain situations.”  What would those situations be?  She doesn’t say, so we’re left to guess, but her piece is so downright weird I’d hesitate to.

But — and that’s a big but — I do think lost wages, breastfeeding, and other “expenses,” such as the toll of pregnancy and childbirth recovery, should factor into that financial decision if it comes to that.

Let’s see, as I understand what she’s saying (and her article is so strange that I may well not), the fact that some women breastfeed their babies means either that custodial fathers shouldn’t receive child support at all or that they should receive less than they otherwise would.  Brusie counts breastfeeding as an “expense” mothers bear.  Needless to say, that’s one she doesn’t explain.

Lost wages?  Who knows what she’s talking about?  Yes, if a woman happens to be working when it comes time to give birth, she takes some time off to deliver the child and to recover from doing so.  For most women that takes about a month and often there’s no reimbursement from employers or the state.  Somehow she thinks that means Dad should pay should he get custody.  Like breastfeeding, the connection between giving birth and how much non-custodial Mom should pay custodial Dad is one I don’t see.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that this idea is so loony, so frankly sexist, so divorced from reality and at odds with existing law that it doesn’t deserve concerning ourselves with.  At first, I thought the same.  But then I remembered two little words — domestic violence.  Forty years ago, who’d have guessed that serious people would actually claim that only men commit DV against only women, that there is an “epidemic” of that occurring and that we need to radically truncate due process of law to deal with it?  And yet we’ve done all that and more.

So why not deny custodial fathers child support from non-custodial mothers?  We’ve done stranger things.

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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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