N.K. Clark

February 17, 2014


There are many ideas that come to mind when thinking about the real definition of child support.  The most prevalent description mainly is surrounded by the financial aspect of the idea.  Money paid in order to support the children resulting from a failed relationship.  The legal definition goes a step further in clarifying child support and the intention of this system.  According to Jennifer Wolf from About.com Single Parents, The Uniform Desertion and Non Support Act of 1910 made it a crime of a husband to willfully abandon or neglect to provide support for children under the age of 16.  Fast forward to the 1990s, former President Bill Clinton introduced a revamped child support system to combat the welfare state.  The reformation changed Aide for Dependent Children (ADC) to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and implemented a reformed child support system into the new business model. 

With the introduction of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, we were introduced to time limits applied to former welfare benefits and a new villain the “deadbeat dad” was formed.  At that exact moment, low-income families were being weaned and pushed off of any type of public assistance; the need for a scapegoat to receive the blame was invented.  Former President Clinton signed the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998 in order to realize and solidify the new bad guy.  This new law entailed felony punishment for parent who moves to another state, or country, with the intention of evading child support payments, (CNN, 1998).  The unfortunate part of these new regulations is that single parents, mostly mothers, were required to apply for child support services in exchange for any public assistance.  The war against the theoretical taxpaying Americans had finally been won against the poor and lazy Americans living on welfare.  The fact that all Americans pay some taxes was forever lost.  And the war on poverty, too, was lost.

Inevitably, benefit time limits expired, and millions of parents (mostly men) were on the hook for thousands of dollars in child support payments, late fees, interest, and penalties.  Even with the law clear in stating that parents must willfully evade child support, making almost overnight, people were being jailed for child support debt.  CNN (1998) clearly states that the Deadbeat Punishment law applied to person who had debt that remained unpaid for over a year or is greater than $5,000.  Again, present day America, has rewritten the child support law in order to collect more money more quickly but following less of the laws.  There are too many parents today that hare being hunted and captured over a few missed child support payments spanning over a couple of months and not the intended year. 

The modern day child support system has replaced the ancient welfare system with the exception of a couple of huge discrepancies.  The benefits once available through a public assistance grant are now not available.  Cash is a commodity and very difficult to receive from country offices when needed to supplement a loss of income.  Another point is that because many parents’ sign over their rights to child support payments to the state, if child support is subsequently paid by the other parent, most states retain 100% of the money.  Finally, it is almost impossible to reacquire your child support rights back from the state if you ever received any form of public assistance.  This is true whether you only received assistance for a month versus a year and if you did not receive any cash assistance.  Any future child support money received on your behalf and on the behalf of your child belongs to your respective state.  The original purpose of the child support system is very different from the one that has been created in order to rob the modern day low-income family.  Because of the recreation of the systems, more children and families are living in poverty and more poor people are being bars because of owed child support debt.  The child support system is truly more complicated than just monetary care for a child with separated parents.



AllPolitics CNN (1998, January 24). Clinton Signs Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act - June 24, 1998. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/06/24/deadbeat.parents.bill/

Wolf, J. (n.d.). History of Child Support - Federal Child Support Laws. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from http://singleparents.about.com/od/paternity/a/history-of-child-support.htm



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