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June 22, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

“Dumb as a box of rocks.” That phrase surely was coined to describe John Bolch. For reasons I can never figure out, Marilyn Stowe gives Bolch a forum on her blog. Maybe it’s for comic relief, but in truth, the man must lie awake nights imagining ways to plumb anew the depths of dogged ignorance. One of the comments to Bolch’s latest piece captures the matter nicely (Marilyn Stowe, 6/20/16):

John is very consistent in his approach. He is of course habitually wrong…

His thesis this time is that there is no connection between child support and child access. That is, the one doesn’t depend on the other. Stated another way, just because Dad hasn’t paid what he owes, Mom can’t deny contact and, just because Mom’s denied contact doesn’t permit Dad to withhold his bi-weekly payments. That’s pretty commonly understood.

But, as the commenter pointed out, Bolch is consistently wrong. Amusingly enough, he admits as much later in his post, which, I suppose makes him right. Oh well, there’s a first time for everything.

Unfortunately, the government in its infinite wisdom chose to make a link between child support and contact, by including in the child support formula a deduction for the amount of time that the child stays with the NRP.

So the whole “there’s no link between child support and access” meme is more like, never mind, there is a link. I suppose that’s one way to get something right. Just say one thing and then say the opposite. That way, one version must be true. I think Bolch is on to something.

That brings us to the many ways in which his piece reveals his astonishing ignorance of basic facts about his chosen topic. In other words, it’s standard Bolch.

Even though it falls toward the end of his piece, why not begin with the aforementioned quotation?

Bolch calls it “unfortunate” that the law requires child support levels to be reduced the more contact the non-residential parent has. That must mean he believes that child support levels should remain the same regardless of how much time each parent has the child. So an NRP who has the child in his care, say, 40% of the time should pay the same as if he never saw the child. Somehow this makes sense to Bolch.

Does the man not realize that it costs money to care for a child? If the child is with Dad 40% of the time, that means that something like 40% of little Andy or Jenny’s upkeep is borne by Dad and only 60% by Mom. By contrast, if Dad never sees the kid, 100% of the costs of childcare fall to Mom and 0% to Dad. Surely Dad should pay more in the latter case, right? Not according to Bolch.

Further, Bolch’s idea that child support levels should have nothing to do with parenting time is about as close as anyone comes to admitting that child support isn’t for the child, but for the mother. To decouple the amount of child support from the amount of time each parent cares for the child is to decouple the concept of child support from how much it costs to, well, support the child. I suspect Bolch is as ignorant of that obvious fact as he is about so much else, but there it is.

Bolch’s panoramic ignorance looks to stem from – surprise – his preconceived anti-father bias.

This can obviously lead to some NRPs seeking more contact not because they think that is best for the child, but simply to reduce their child support liability.

Could it possibly lead to some custodial parents seeking to reduce the NRP’s time with the child in order to increase child support? Most people would notice that obvious fact, but not Bolch. No, for him only fathers and not mothers are motivated by money. Really.

The determining factor regarding any issue relating to a parent’s contact with their child is the child’s welfare.

No, actually it’s not. Oh, I know courts invariably say that everything they do is in “the best interests of the child,” but that doesn’t make it so. Bolch might want to ponder whether people always tell the truth and understand their own motivations.

The simple fact is that judges, at least in the U.K. and the U.S., receive little or no training in what promotes children’s welfare. The simple truth is that, in all but the rarest of situations, shared parenting in which the child spends at least 33% of the time with each parent, is necessary to ensuring that the child’s best interests are met. Yet that rarely happens, and U.K. courts are especially bad about the practice.

That may be because the Judicial College that trains judges specifically refuses to include any social science regarding children and parenting time in its curriculum for family court judges. No doubt about it, keeping judges ignorant of basic facts about child well-being is a sure way to thwart the very thing judges are charged by law with promoting – the best interests of the child.

Here are the seven factors judges in the U.K. are required to consider in deciding custody and parenting time. Notice that none of them refers even obliquely to a child’s interest in maintaining meaningful relationships with both parents after they divorce. But what they also don’t require is that a judge ignore that most important of all factors, nor the bountiful social science indicating that shared parenting is usually in the best interests of children.

Bolch of course knows none of this. To acquire this basic information, he’d have to read a book or two and it’s plain he has no intention of doing so.

We cannot, for example, say that the risk of harm to a child is reduced because the non-resident parent (‘NRP’) is paying child support, and that the more the NRP is paying, the less that risk is. Nor can we say that just because the NRP is paying child support that means they are capable of meeting the child’s needs. Conversely, we cannot say that just because the NRP is not paying child support the child is at greater risk of harm, or that the NRP is not capable of meeting the child’s needs.

Just so. But the problem with that thinking is that we know that’s not how people behave. Once again, he’d have had to read a book to learn the facts. But, if Bolch had managed to get through Sanford Braver’s imminently readable “Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths,” he’d know that, in fact, everything goes better when Mom doesn’t obstruct Dad’s access to his children.

Most importantly for Bolch’s blog post is the fact that non-resident fathers are far more likely to pay what they owe when their access to the children isn’t impeded or denied by Mom. It’s safe to say that Bolch thinks NRPs should pay the support ordered. The obvious catalyst for achieving that result is for primary parents to allow the access that’s ordered.

The plain conclusion is that, however much the law may insist that there’s no connection between support and access, practically speaking, that’s just not true. When Mom denies access, Dad doesn’t like it and he’s less inclined to pay. When Mom’s always there with the child ready to go with Daddy on his visitation day, he’s more willing to pay up, and on time to boot.

That’s all perfectly understandable. It may not be the way it should be, but it’s the way it is. And the men protesting the outrageous behavior of family courts that got Bolch’s dander up made the point.

[T]he fathers’ rights protesters who gate-crashed ITV’s Loose Women programme the other day appeared to be shouting “No kids, no cash!” In other words, if they didn’t get contact with their children, they wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) pay any child support for them.

Again, Bolch doesn’t have a clue. And since having a clue probably means reading a book, don’t expect the fog-enshrouded wastes between his ears to clear anytime soon.

 

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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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