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Text encouraging child support payments rub dads the wrong way

Receiving all of the child support to which they are entitled is obviously in the best interests of the children getting those payments. It is also arguably in society’s best interests. Custodial parents who are not getting financial support from their children’s other parent often struggle financially, and may need to turn to public relief for help with basic necessities.

Because of this, so-called “deadbeat” parents often are pursued for unpaid child support when the mother or father of their children is receiving welfare benefits. But a recent attempt to encourage parents to catch up on their obligations is not sitting well with some fathers in another state.

The fathers recently received a text message from their county government. It read, “Looking for the ideal Father’s Day gift? Make a child suport [sic] payment!!!!”

Not all of the men who got this text message were behind on child support. An Associated Press article quoted two fathers who both said they were current on their payments. They felt that the text was demeaning, implying both that they were deadbeat dads, and that noncustodial fathers are little more than financial providers for their kids.

One of the fathers thinks the texts are sexist, as well. “Do they send that text out to mothers on Mother’s Day?” he asked.

It does not appear the agency responsible for the texts had a Mother’s Day message this year. The director said they would do so next year.

Whether or not this text message campaign leads to an increase in child support payments there, in Florida unpaid child support continues to be a problem for many parents. Parents who did not mean to fall behind, but cannot afford the payments, may be able to get an adjustment in court. Meanwhile, parents who are owed the money may be able to get the court to help.

Source: Associated Press, “Dad Protest Text Urging Them to Pay Child Support,” June 5, 2014

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