By STEVEN RAY HERNANDEZ
Before We Start, Here’s Some Facts You Need To Consider:
- Every child needs both financial and emotional support from both parents.
- Every child needs both parents in their lives.
Now let’s get down to it:
The other day, I had the unfortunate experience of reading one of the most insanely sickening text message-conversations I have ever witnessed in my life, which prompted me to write this column.
The text messages, which came through on my buddy’s phone (we’ll call him David for the sake of privacy), read a little something like this:
David: Can I take the little one to the beach this weekend?
His daughter’s mother: I haven’t received any payment this month, when are you sending me money?
David: I told you I was in between jobs and my first check doesn’t come for another two weeks.
His daughter’s mother: Ok, well you can pick her up in two weeks then.
Now, by most human standards, this would seem like a jaw-dropping outrage to anyone. Unfortunately, for David (and especially for his child) there was no outrage, there was no emotion, and instead of ensuing an argument, he just replied, “Ok.” You see, for the last 4 years, this had become a reoccurring problem for David. The minute he missed a payment or two, he was continuously denied visitation of his daughter. By this point, I could tell David was broken, and felt like no other options were available.
“Ni modo, what can I do?” David said to me as he put down his phone. “If I call the child support office, all they are going to do is give me a 1-800 number for advice and then hound me for all my information to make sure it’s up-to-date. But if I miss a couple of payments, I’m going to jail. It’s not fair. Only thing I can do is take her to court, but that takes money for a lawyer that I don’t have,” he added.
Now, as much as I wanted to comfort David and give him some good, friendly advice, he was right; there is nothing he can do. And that, my friends, is where the lop-sided injustice of our Child Support System continues to fail our children.
I’ve seen- first hand- a father spend over $10,000 in lawyer and court fees trying to fight the visitation rights of his child, only to have the judge give the mother a simple “Warning.”
One year later, that same individual was jailed for falling behind in child support by $6,000. If only part of that $10,000 he spent fighting to see his child could have some credit towards his child support bill. Apparently, the child support system could care less about the emotional well-being of that child, so long as they get their interest payment every month.
Bottom line is this folks: YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOT BARGAINING TOOLS.
Just because the non-custodial parent misses a payment, does not make them a bad parent. And this should not affect how often they get to see their child. That mentality is flat-out ridiculous by all accounts.
With that said, let me try and break-down the #1 problem within this Child Support System that has seemed to serve as somewhat of a virtual wrecking ball for families across the state of Texas over the past few decades.
It’s Like This:
There are 2 very simple rules/orders that need to be followed once a child support case is initiated. One rule is for the Custodial Parent (most often the mother) and another rule is for the Non-Custodial Parent (most often the father).
The rules are as follows:
- Non-Custodial Parent- Pay your monthly child support responsibility.
- Custodial Parent- Allow visitation to the Non-Custodial Parent as issued by the court.
Now, seems pretty simple right? Well, not here in Texas. Here’s where EVERYTHING unfolds in this treacherous so-called “justice” system we have.
If the Non-Custodial Parent doesn’t follow their rule, the only thing the Custodial Parent has to do is pick up the phone and report him/her to the attorney general and a hearing is called, and quite often the Non-Custodial Parent is taken to jail.
But, if the Custodial Parent doesn’t follow their rule, and denies visitation, the Non-Custodial Parent’s ONLY option is to hire a lawyer. If they call the child support office, they will not help in any way, shape, or form with the sole exception of offering a 1-800 number for advice.
This, my friends, is a cold stone FACT! Literally, nothing can be done unless you come up with the money for a lawyer first, which we all know becomes very pricey. Imagine you are a parent who is not seeing your child, and now you have to decide whether to pay your child support, or use that money to hire a lawyer to try and see your child. Either way, it’s a lose-lose, for everyone, but most of all, for the child.
*Side-note- even if the parent is paying their child support, but does not regularly pick up their child, they should be able to get in trouble for that as well.
Look, here’s the bottom line folks:
If parents continue to let the relationship and bad blood between each other get in the way of their parenting, the only one who is going to lose in all of this is the CHILD. Stop being selfish!
If the other parent is not paying their child support, fine, they will eventually have to suffer the consequences of not handling their responsibility. But do not make things worse by keeping your child “hostage” until a payment is made. Again, this is by all accounts, RIDICULOUS!
Let me finish by reiterating what I first said at the beginning of this article. Every child needs both financial and emotional support from both parents and every child needs both parents in their lives, plain and simple. In the end, all that matters is that both parents follow their court ordered rules and both parents handle the domestic matter in an adult-like, civilized manner. I’m sick and tired of seeing children suffer day in and day out simply because their parents can’t see eye-to-eye. I’m telling you people, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!