Not long ago I quoted Glenn who wrote several years ago about the Lisa Miller/Janet Jenkins custody case, “Ladies, welcome to the club.” He wrote that because Jenkins in every way was the “father” of the couple’s child, except of course the biological one. Miller became pregnant and gave birth to the child. Jenkins was the doting “dad,” there at the hospital, and the family’s main breadwinner. The point of calling her the “father” is that, when the two split up, she was the one on the outs. She’s the one who had difficulty seeing the child, she’s the one who paid support and eventually, she’s the one from whom the child was abducted when Miller decided that sex between women was wrong. So Glenn was spot-on when he pointed out that Jenkins, for one, had come to know what millions of fathers experience every day
– the family court bias against dads that begins when a case is filed and never ends until, the child reaches adulthood or, on those rare occasions when the mother behaves exceptionally badly, they finally see sense. So here’s an interview with the actress Anne Heche (Telegraph, 5/1/11). It’s mostly uninteresting except for this.
(Her first husband Coley) Laffoon dragged her through the legal system, resulting in Heche being ordered to pay him a lump sum of $515,000 plus $3,700 per month in child support. ‘What I find upsetting is not that I provide for him, although that”s not my favourite thing in life,” she says. ‘It”s that the court doesn”t give the person being supported incentive to not be supported. Because if you”re being supported until the child is 18 – and the child at the time is four – what on earth is the incentive for him to get a job? ‘The whole structure is defunct.
Would that it were. But again, how many dads have said the same thing. Notice how Heche, without much thought sees her payment of child support not as supporting their son, but as supporting her ex. Notice too her resentment of the alimony payment. As have countless fathers, she points out that it just allows Lafoon to not work. She questions whether that makes sense. After all, he can get a job if he wants one. Yes, that shoe sure does pinch when you put it on the other foot. And the more high-earning women who join the club, the greater the chance of changing a system that is wrong in far more ways than it’s right. Thanks to Don for the heads-up.