Parents who have a monthly child support obligation know that it's fairly easy to fall behind on payments, even when their intentions are good. The loss of a job or a rise in other expenses can derail the best-laid payment plans, and it can be a struggle to get back into good standing. But many of us have heard stories of parents who are so far behind on child support that their kids are likely to be grown adults by the time it's paid in full. Oftentimes these cases involve parents who have made little to no effort to provide for their children, leaving the custodial parent to fully support them.
If you were to survey Texas residents on whether parents who don't pay child support deserve the benefit of the doubt, you might get a mixed response. Many parents are still struggling to support themselves, let alone anyone else. But others might say that if you don't have the means to support children, you should think twice about having them.
That was the contention of a family law judge in Wisconsin who recently ruled on the child support case of a father with nine children. The 44-year-old man owes nearly $100,000 to his children's six mothers. After the judge remarked that it was a shame he couldn't prevent the man from having any more children, the assistant district attorney pointed out that the judge did have some say in the matter. As a result of a previous ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, judges in the state are allowed to order a defendant not to conceive more children unless he or she can demonstrate the ability to support them. The order must be in the form of a probation condition for parents who are convicted of failing to pay child support, which is a misdemeanor charge.
The state Supreme Court's 2001 decision upheld a lower court's ruling in the case of a man charged with seven counts of intentional failure to pay child support. That father, who also had nine children, didn't completely lose his right to have more children. He just had to show that he could support them.
Could a similar probation condition be good for Texas? And would the state's residents support or oppose it? What do you think?
Source: The Journal Times, "Deadbeat dad sentenced to probation, ordered not to procreate," Kristen Zambo, Dec. 3, 2012
- Our firm handles cases of child support, divorce, child custody and other family law matters. To learn more about our practice, visit our Lewisville, Texas, child support page.