Should fathers be legally allowed to not pay child support?


Fact Box

  • Congress established child support as a social program in 1975 to ensure children who lived with only one biological parent were financially taken care of. Child support is generally discontinued once a child reaches age 18.
  • The percentage of births to unmarried mothers in the US has risen from 18.4% in 1980 to 40.5% in 2020. Likewise, the US Census Bureau found in 2019 that births among unmarried mothers were 28.6% among Whites, 56.7% among Blacks, and 57.9% among Hispanics. 
  • As of February 2024, Single Mother Statistics reported that 10.89 million single-parent families, 79.5% of which were headed by single mothers, resulting in 15.7 million children being raised without a father.
  • Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, Republican lawmakers announced in July 2022 the Unborn Child Support Act “to give mothers the ability to receive child support payments while they are pregnant.” The bill “died,” without receiving a vote in Congress.
  • According to 2021 Department of Health and Human Services data, $32.7 billion was collected in from the paychecks of parents obligated to provide child support. However, a 2020 Census Bureau report revealed that around 30% of parents who are owed child support do not receive it.

Chad (Yes)

Fathers should be able to opt out of paying child support for unwanted children for the same reasons that women should be able to choose whether or not to have a baby. Since women have more investment and responsibilities in the case of pregnancy and childbearing, they should also have more rights, but not at the expense of men having none.

If men are not relevant to the decision-making process of whether or not to keep the baby, they should not be responsible for the consequences of the woman's choice Ideally, it should not be a unilateral decision either way. If both parents cannot agree on which action to take, they have to accept the responsibilities of that choice. But, by law, a woman has the right across many states to have an abortion even if the father rejects it. So, suppose a woman exercises her right to have a baby at the father's protest. In that case, there should be a mechanism for the father to excuse himself from paying child support. Suppose the pregnancy was unplanned, and there is documentation of his protest due to his restrained resources. In that case, requiring him to support this child financially is similar to forcing a woman to have her baby. 

Of course, safeguards need to be in place to prevent the abuse of such a mechanism. Clear rules must be established about when and how such determinations are made to ensure fairness for all involved. As our society continues to evolve its stance on this controversial topic, we need to expand the focus to include the rights of all involved. 

Maria (No)

A 'financial abortion' is not the same as abortion, which is 'a medical procedure that takes part in a woman's body, and means there is never a child.' However, abortion for some women is impossible due to finances, the law, or familial and social shame, even when their life is in danger. Contrarily, a financial abortion may be summed simply as 'a signature on a piece of paper,' making the two incomparable. 

Legally allowing men 'paper abortions' provides them a cop-out, 'putting the burden of child-rearing, and the mental load of contraception, on women,' even while women already don't have an equal choice. Indirectly, opting out is choosing not to take ownership of one's actions and encourages increased neglectful behavior from parents while the child suffers the most.

Abortion is illegal in eleven states. In these states, one parent opting out leaves the other in the position to either struggle as the singular proprietor or to, unfortunately, choose unsafe abortions, which 45% already are. Up to 13.2% of those unsafe abortions also end in maternal death. And women who are forced to give birth, like in child rape and incest cases, don't deserve the entire responsibility of parenthood when the baby is not merely their own.

While the idea of financial abortion may make sense in an ideal world and may work for all parties involved in some cases, protecting the notion by law or doctrine supports a society being unfavorable to women, especially minority women and women in financial hardship, since abortion is both time-consuming and expensive. In an already patriarchal society that caters to men, we cannot accept this solution as upholding equality.

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