Friday, June 3, 2011

Child Support Aint No Punk

As much as our celebrity and individual cultures glorify promiscuous sex, very few of the music, movies, or any other industry we get ourselves into have much to say about what happens after all the fun and partying is over with. The most we get from these industries is "watch out for the traps some women set" and to "strap up". Very little of it goes into detail describing what life is like once "complications" come up, after the AOP (Acknowledgement of Paternity), or birth certificate (depending on where you live) is signed. If those complications prevent you from staying with the mother, chances are you will end up paying child support.
In Texas, child support starts out at 20% of your check, before taxes are taken out. Every 3 years, or whenever you get a substantial change in your income (large increase or decrease) you will go to court to have your funds and sources of income reviewed, and you will be assigned a new monthly child support rate. The woman can also ask for more money if her financial situation changes. Whatever the case may be, the matter is taken to court, where a judge will decide whether to raise, lower, or maintain the CS payment rate.

Don't have the money? Well, the judge can give you time to get it (usually 30 days, but then again, it's up to the judge). Still don't have it? That's a felony with 6 months jail time. What kind of jobs are out there for felons? You can (or will) also lose your driver's license or any other kind of license you have (commercial driver's license, hunting license, conceal and carry license, certification, etc.), and take hits to your credit. After you get out of jail, you will still owe the woman the original amount, plus 12% interest to the state, which can also be compounded. (That $5000 can turn into $10k real quick.) And remember, all of this is taken out of your check BEFORE taxes. You may not even get one. Then whose car, house, business loan, credit card, or student loan can you get with no money and bad credit?

Also, even if the woman doesn't put you on child support right away, she can still file to place you on child support at any time up to 3 months before the child turns 18. You will have to pay child support for all the years that you "missed", plus (again) the 12% interest to the state, per month. There is also no guarantee that the money will be spent on your child(ren) - but that depends on the woman. What if you could PROVE in court that she wasn't spending the money on your child? You still have to pay. You might not enjoy seeing that new car, jewelry, TV, etc. that she bought for her and her new boyfriend, but if all that is what "coming up" means to you then you should be proud to know that you bought it for them. You can try to fight for custody if you want. If you have permanent custody of the child, but 97% of the time, you will spend a lot of money losing that case. Most of the resources I found on winning a custody battle as a father involved dramatic and (legally) unreliable or irrelevant arguments. (Example: writing own what times you picked the child up, what time you read to them, which books, and how long, etc.) You also still have to pay child support even if the mother refuses to let you see the child, including if she moves out of state.

With all the horror stories (that I've heard from people on child support now, and a brochure from the government) where does this leave us?

1)      Watch where you stick your d*ck. If you’ve gotten to know the woman well enough to jump in the sack, you should know if she is the type to put you on child support, or not. If so, you should know if she will put the money to good use or if she will use the courts to cut your manhood to make a living off you (and/or whomever else she gets pregnant by).

2)      Be present to educate your kids. The boys need to know how to avoid putting themselves in that position in the first place. That means going past their feelings to learn about the women that they form relationships with, since they all have their own patterns and habits. and how to handle the situation if he slips up and falls for “the trap”. For the girls, they need to know how to live independently so they don’t have to depend or prey on any of the men that they form relationships with. Child support was originally meant (or should only be) used against parents (women can be placed on child support, too) who aren't living up to their responsibility.But to know that, that boy and/or girl needs to know what a man taking care of his family is supposed to look like. That example should come from you, and others in the community.

3)  Fix your own problems to maintain your family. We all have insecurities and vices that we fight every day. When we beat one, another comes up. The key is to be aware of how and why these vices and insecurities cause problems, and how to resolve them. At the least, keep them from interfering with ou own growth and family life.

Although we should be trying to maintain our own families, child support can be seen as a fire being put under our asses to make sure we at least make an effort to maintain them. Is the state doing this because they care if our families stick together? Honestly, only to the degree that stable families (or dysfunctional families for that matter) either help or have a neutral affect on the state itself. We should use the pitfalls explained in the stories above as motivation to rise to that occasion once we enter a relationship, or become parents. If not fear of the pitfalls, then the children and their future. Maintaining the family structure is part of how the Black community is to get its power and freedom.

*The details used in the description of child support came from stories of men on child support, and from the state(Texas) issued brochure on child support, custody, and visitation rights of noncustodial parents.

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