Previously, years ago, I had posted about the propriety of the government forcing a man to pay child support with an emphasis on bastard children. At that time, I emphasized that the child had a right to support from its parents Everything that I wrote was correct from the perspective of applying current legal considerations, but that a government can take that means is not the same as saying that it should to the exclusion of alternate means for protecting the same essential rights. Further consideration of current facts has led me to altering my stance about what is the correct government policy.
Why the emphasis on bastards? It is one of those edge cases that both raises the most theoretical objections and has in reality had widespread devastating impacts on men and children around the world. Further, in using that particular word, it emphasizes the long legal history of this particular problem.
I think that it is without substantial controversy to say that government has an obligation to protect the individual rights of a child when such are violated by the parent(s). Fundamentally, those individual rights of an actual existing child (as opposed to an incomplete non-viable embryo or fetus) are based upon his or her right to life. When such issues are brought before a court for a decision, the court must act in a legal manner for the best interest of the child.
Currently, the government’s policies related to the enforcement of child support are discriminatory and in some cases shocking to our sense of ordered liberty. On the later, with judicial passivity, a government acting in its own financial interests can order a man who is not the father to pay child support based upon the mother’s perjury or error as a means of recovering government expenses related to welfare. Technical means exist, through DNA testing, to prove paternity or the lack thereof but the courts do not protect the rights of an accused man by insisting on such evidence in these civil cases before issuing an order. In a return to the days of foundlings, in order to protect a child from harm by the mother, laws allow a woman to just drop off their child at designated public facilities or grandparent(s) without her retaining a legal financial obligation to the child; yet, a man has no unilateral method to renounce his financial obligation to the child regardless of his inability to pay.
Related to the best interests of the child, despite public policy compelling men to pay child support (including in the cases of bastards), the outcomes for children raised by single mothers are appalling with substantially increased future chances of education failure, criminality, and poverty.
Given these unjust and discriminatory policies that are leading to future life failures for the child, substantial changes are required if the government is to act to protect the child’s right to life. Part of that has to be removing financial incentives for the government to act against the best interest of the child related to collection of child support enforcement fees and reimbursements for welfare payments.
When a mother (or other legal guardian) comes before the court to request an order of child support for her bastard child (and perhaps for any child including in cases of divorce), this should be founded upon her admission that she is unable to provide the financial support that the child requires consistent with its rights, which may be determined by the court to be a false claim. Upon DNA evidence that the man is the bastard’s father, who was not so by being a clinical sperm donor, the man should be presented by the court with five options:
- Unless is he barred by his criminal history using the best interest standard from doing so, assume full legal custody of the child, if he is able to pay to care for the child (possibly with family assistance),
- Unless is he barred by his criminal history using the best interest standard from doing so, assume shared (half time) legal custody of the child, if he is able to pay to care for the child (possibly with family assistance), and have no additional child support payment to be made to the mother,
- Claim and demonstrate fraud, theft of sperm, or rape by the mother related to the conception of the child and receive neither penalty nor order of support,
- Make a mutually agreed financial settlement contract, which will have equal legal standing to any other contract, with the mother that will prohibit future new child support claims by the mother, or
- Renounce the child and pay a penalty equal to the price of three abortions into a private fund that aids indigent pregnant women with the cost of an abortion.
In the event that the man selects option 5, in order to protect the best interest of the child, the mother should lose custody of the child to the state unless family members of either the mother or father pledge in court to be guarantors for the financial support of the child, such terms by family members could include transferring legal custody to them and from the mother.
As an aside, it is fully proper based upon our right to free association for individuals to use public knowledge of a man’s renouncing of his child as reason to discriminate against him. As part of a background check, as an indicator of the man’s character or reliability, such could be grounds to discriminate in employment, housing, and credit score (thus, this should not be prohibited by law). As a service, It could also be legal for a dating website to flag this information in a man’s profile or deny the man access to the platform. Further, a government agency could make access to this information easier as is done with sex offenders.
This legal change should apply retroactively to vacate existing child support obligations and erase unpaid child support balances; however, there should be no refund of payments already made. Some fathers may choose to voluntarily continue these payments. Other parents may come to some new mutually agreed upon arrangement. If the mother is still unable to support her child, then she can return to court under the new paradigm.
The child support argument about the propriety in our age of sexual equality and legal abortions for a father having to pay money to a mother is superfluous. For bastards, the issue is the government acting legally in the child’s best interest in order to protect its individual rights. The current system of child support is failing children and destroying the lives of the father without benefit to the child. The presumption that a child is better off with a parent who can not afford to care for them has been a demonstrable failure. When parents, and their families, are unable to care for a child, a court order against a father for child support payments that cannot be paid is no aid to protecting the child’s individual rights.