Society and policymakers have long thought fathers were not important in child-rearing or being an integral part of families which have created a humanitarian crisis where children have little or no time with fathers, often making them fatherless (spending less than 35% of time with their father). In the 1970’s, a social program to give women welfare only if the father was not present made many children fatherless, as stated in a 1973 CBS Special, “It offers money to families if the fathers will leave them and stay away”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF4RT0fbBR4&t=7s
This idea that fathers are not important continues today with the federal program Title IV-D which incentivizes states to reduce time with one parent (90% of the time fathers) to maximize how much is collected in child support for the states to receive matching funds and bonuses from the federal government. It is estimated that Texas receives close to 5 BILLION Dollars from the federal government. Texas does not hide the fact that child support collections supersedes other laws with the words “any action necessary to maximize the amount of federal funds available”, highlighted below in Texas Family Code § 201.107 (2019)
Sec. 201.107. STATE AND FEDERAL FUNDS.
(a) The office of court administration may contract with the Title IV-D agency for available state and federal funds under Title IV-D and may employ personnel needed to implement and administer this subchapter. An associate judge, a court monitor for each associate judge, and other personnel appointed under this subchapter are state employees for all purposes, including accrual of leave time, insurance benefits, retirement benefits, and travel regulations.
(b) The presiding judges of the administrative judicial regions, state agencies, and counties may contract with the Title IV-D agency for available federal funds under Title IV-D to reimburse costs and salaries associated with associate judges, court monitors, and personnel appointed under this subchapter and may also use available state funds and public or private grants.
(c) The presiding judges and the Title IV-D agency shall act and are authorized to take any action necessary to maximize the amount of federal funds available under the Title IV-D program.
And now the child tax credit helps mothers, but many single fathers struggle. They work to pay their bills and child support with no help from the government. And many fathers are sent to prison for not being able to pay child support. This further keeps the father away from the home and makes it difficult to spend quality time with their children. Child support is needed in many cases, but it should not put one parent in poverty to maximize Title IV-D for the states.
In the article by Dr. Edward Kruk, PhD., titled Father Absence, Father Deficit, Father Hunger The vital importance of paternal presence in children’s lives.
“Whereas parents in general are not supported as parents by our social institutions, divorced fathers in particular are often devalued, disparaged, and forcefully disengaged from their children’s lives. Researchers have found that for children, the results are nothing short of disastrous, along a number of dimensions:
- Diminished self-concept and compromised physical and emotional security: Children consistently report feeling abandoned when their fathers are not involved in their lives, struggling with their emotions and episodic bouts of self-loathing.
- Behavioral problems: Fatherless children have more difficulties with social adjustment, and are more likely to report problems with friendships, and manifest behavior problems; many develop a swaggering, intimidating persona in an attempt to disguise their underlying fears, resentments, anxieties and unhappiness.
- Truancy and poor academic performance: 71 per cent of high school dropouts are fatherless; fatherless children have more trouble academically, scoring poorly on tests of reading, mathematics, and thinking skills; children from father-absent homes are more likely to play truant from school, more likely to be excluded from school, more likely to leave school at age 16, and less likely to attain academic and professional qualifications in adulthood.
- Delinquency and youth crime, including violent crime: 85 per cent of youth in prison have an absent father; fatherless children are more likely to offend and go to jail as adults.
- Promiscuity and teen pregnancy: Fatherless children are more likely to experience problems with sexual health, including a greater likelihood of having intercourse before the age of 16, foregoing contraception during first intercourse, becoming teenage parents, and contracting sexually transmitted infection; many girls manifest an object hunger for males, and in experiencing the emotional loss of their fathers egocentrically as a rejection of them, may become susceptible to exploitation by adult men.
- Drug and alcohol abuse: Fatherless children are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and abuse drugs in childhood and adulthood.
- Homelessness: 90 per cent of runaway children have an absent father.
- Exploitation and abuse: Fatherless children are at greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, being five times more likely to have experienced physical abuse and emotional maltreatment, with a one hundred times higher risk of fatal abuse; a recent study reported that preschoolers not living with both of their biological parents are 40 times more likely to be sexually abused.
- Physical health problems: Fatherless children report significantly more psychosomatic health symptoms and illness such as acute and chronic pain, asthma, headaches, and stomach aches.
- Mental health disorders: Father-absent children are consistently overrepresented on a wide range of mental health problems, particularly anxiety, depression, and suicide.
- Life chances: As adults, fatherless children are more likely to experience unemployment, have low incomes, remain on social assistance, and experience homelessness.
- Future relationships: Father-absent children tend to enter partnerships earlier, are more likely to divorce or dissolve their cohabiting unions, and are more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership.
- Mortality: Fatherless children are more likely to die as children, and live an average of four years less over the life span.”
In addition, the current system creates conflict, is adversarial, and facilitates a parent from alienating the child from the non-custodial parent. Please learn more about the impact the current custody laws have on children by watching this 30 minute version of the documentary “Erasing Family”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkIy5nJvTjk
I hope this article and documentary will have an impact on how you view families and the current state of our custody laws. The court system needs to be updated to have better outcomes for our children.