Kamloops Daily News

September 4, 2001

"VICTIMIZED FATHERS NEED BETTER LAWS"

Letter to the Editor by B. Spooner
Kamloops Daily News

In response to the article Man Kept In Prison Receives Support (The Daily News Aug. 3) Jeffrey Unruh has my support too.

I have seen this happen in enough families and, yes, we need to think about the kids. Tell the mothers that! What is 50/50 parenthood? It would be most people’s understanding that both parents take half the responsibility of raising the child. If that’s the case, then why in most cases do the fathers take 100 per cent of the financial responsibility? Even if the father has the children 50 per cent of the time, he’s paying 100 per cent.

The courts seem to increase support payments the moment a man gets a raise or takes on a second job to try and meet his financial demands. But do they lower the payments when the mother moves another man into her house? They don’t consider his wage, but he gets to enjoy watching the children grow up, he gets to have family dinners with them, he gets to take them home to his house after the ball game. This new man gets all the family rewards but no financial responsibility.

Most of these women will not marry this live-in boyfriend or claim him as common law – most will pretend he does not exist so that their child-support cheque will not be changed.

And the child-support cheque will not be changed unless the father can find more money to take the mother to court to prove she has more money coming in.

Mothers should have to prove that a father’s support dollars are being spent to support the children. Where is the accountability? I see some children working hard to pay for things while the mothers go on cruises and start new families. Fathers have no guarantee their support cheques support their children.

And what about the double standard about post-secondary education? Married couples are not obligated to pay for their child’s post-secondary education, so why should a divorced couple be held responsible?

Let’s imagine for a moment that if the law made the meaning of 50/50 parenthood just that – both parents take 50 per cent of the physical and financial responsibility for the upbringing of their children. No money would change exchange hands because both parents are contributing. When you have the children in your home you buy the clothing and you feed them – the parents share the cost of school sports or items such as ski passes that the children might want. This way, instead of the father paying a fee to the mother, and the mother getting to be the only one that gets to give the children what they want, maybe Dad would like to take them shopping or hand them their ski pass Maybe if adults knew this would be the outcome, they would think about marriage and children a little more seriously. Maybe they would try harder to save a marriage.

I am not saying this would work in all cases. Some parents are not fit to be parents – if they are not going to actively take part in the raising of a child then they will have child-support payments to make, and will be hopefully an acquaintance at the least to their children.

But thinking about what is best for the children is that both parents are active in their upbringing and that money does not become the most important issue on who has the children.

May our laws change before more people are hurt.

B. Spooner
Kamloops, BC