After discussing custody and child support with Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S., Chair of the Board of Fathers and Families, the Editorial Board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper, called for more shared parenting in a Father’s Day editorial. The Board added “Most dads in Cuyahoga County are responsible men who take care of their children.”
That’s the good news. The less fortunate news is that the Board still doesn’t really understand the “deadbeat dad” issue. The Board continues:
The same cannot be said of the 40 percent of the Cuyahoga Child Support Enforcement Agency’s 147,000-parent caseload who refuse to pay despite, officials say, having the means to do so. For them — especially for the 70 deadbeat parents, mostly dads, facing felony charges for stiffing their children — jail time may well be appropriate.
The Board notes that we “adamantly disagree, saying that only a fraction of deadbeat dads deserve jail and that the majority of those hounded by officials are too poor to support their children.” That sums up our view well enough–because of problems within the child support system, many low-income dads end up saddled with large arrearages they could never hope to pay off, and they are often driven underground and out of their children’s lives by their child support problems.
As Holstein pointed out last month when he debated two leading Ohio child support officials on NPR, if one simply looks at the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services’ “Most Wanted” list for failure to pay child support, in almost every case, the “deadbeat’ fathers are low income or unemployed. This hardly squares with Ohio child support enforcement officials’ claim that the obligors are behind because they are “refusing to pay.” To view the most recent two lists, click here and here.