Men's Rights Myth: Women Trick Men Into Fatherhood So They Can Collect Child Support

In the comments to another thread, “Ed” – whose views are typical of many Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), although I don’t know if Ed himself identifies as an MRA – writes:

…Women have more incentives to become pregnant than a men do. [...] There are … the financial benefits that child support laws now provide. I would hate to believe it is common but I assure you that it is abused.

It’s true that some women have “tricked” men into fatherhood and child support – for example, the 1997 case of State of Louisiana v. Frisard, in which a woman gave oral sex to a man wearing a condom, and then secretly used the sperm in the condom to get pregnant. (The courts decided that Mr. Frisard was liable for child support, a result I find appalling). (For more information about Frisard and some similar cases, see this article).

But even acknowledging that such cases happen, that still doesn’t support the idea that child support payments significantly motivate women to “trick” men into involuntary fatherhood. In the Frisard case, it appears the woman was motivated by a desire for motherhood, and so would probably have acted the same way even if no child support laws exist.

Do women seek pregnancy in order to get the financial benefits of child support, as David suggests?

And who has the most incentive to prevent pregnancy, women or men?

I’d say women do. Women, after all, face the risks and physical burdens of pregnancy, and (if they wind up collecting child support) face not only the financial expense but the enormous workload of raising a child – a workload that will make much more difficult, and possibly entirely derail, any other plans the woman had for her life. The workload, unlike the expense, is not split with another adult. On the other hand, for those women who want to be mothers, that could be an incentive in favor of getting pregnant.

Next to all that, the benefit of receiving child support is so minor that I wouldn’t expect it to have a significant effect on women’s incentives.

Many MRAs – and Ed, if I’ve understood him correctly – believe that child support laws give women a strong incentive to get pregnant and thus “trap” men into financially supporting them. Furthermore, many MRAs seem to believe that there is very little men can do to prevent pregnancy (hence the frequent claim made by MRAs supporting “choice for men” that all reproductive decisions are made by women).

This is a conflict, between what many MRAs believe and what many feminists believe. Is there any way we can settle this conflict empirically?

I believe there is.

Not all states have the same child support laws. In some states, the child support laws are relatively weak; noncustodial parents don’t pay much, and can relatively easily get away with defaulting on child support payments – or can depend on never being identified as the father at all. Other states have higher child support awards, laws that aggressively establish paternity, and collection techniques that make defaulting unlikely (such as garnishing child support from paychecks).

If the MRAs are correct, then states with strong child support laws will have higher rates of single motherhood, due to more women – tempted by the prospect of well-enforced child support awards – choosing to trick men into getting them pregnant.

If I’m correct, however, then states with weak child support laws will have higher rates of single motherhood, because while women’s incentives aren’t changed much by child support laws, a significant number of men are less motivated to avoid pregnancy if they think they can get off the hook.

So what do studies comparing how weak and strong child support laws effect single motherhood find? It’s men, not women, who have their incentives changed by child support laws. The stronger child support laws are, the lower the rate of single motherhood.

Robert Plotnick, of the University of Washington, published a study in 2005 which included a brief review of the literature.

Five studies are particularly relevant to the argument that child support policy is likely to have empirically significant effects on nonmarital childbearing. Sonenstein, Pleck and Ku (1994) find that a substantial proportion of adolescent males are aware of paternity establishment and may modify their sexual behavior and contraceptive use accordingly, especially if their peers are doing so. Case’s (1998) analysis of state data reports that, net of economic and demographic conditions, states that adopted presumptive guidelines for setting child support awards or allowed establishment of paternity up to age 18 had lower out-of-wedlock birth rates. Garfinkel et al. (2003) also analyzes state level data and find that effective child support enforcement deters nonmarital births. The effect is robust across all models and specifications.

Huang (2002) and Plotnick et al. (2004) use micro-data to examine the effect of child support enforcement on nonmarital childbearing. Both use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) to analyze the likelihood that a woman’s first birth is premarital. Focusing on the teenage years, Plotnick et al. (2004) finds that young women living in states with higher rates of paternity establishment are less likely to become unwed teenage mothers. Because of the nature of the NLSY and the focus on teenage behavior, the study examines behavior during 1979-1984. Huang (2002) examines 20 years of data and different indicators of support enforcement. He reports similar relationships when women are age 20 or older but, unlike Plotnick et al., not when they are teenagers.

Plotnick’s 2005 study (which is described, and available for download, here) replicated the earlier studies’ findings.

What does this mean?

It could mean, as I believe, that women already have such strong incentives to avoid pregnancy, that child support awards (which are, typically, not all that generous) don’t significantly alter the equation for most women.

However, it is also possible that Ed is correct, and that child support laws do strongly increase women’s incentive to get pregnant. However, this is only possible if we assume that men’s incentives to avoid pregnancy are even more strongly increased – so that even though women are trying harder to entrapt men into paying child support, men are nonetheless successful in preventing pregnancy, despite women’s increased efforts. So the MRA belief that women are motivated by child support payments into trapping men, ironically can only be rescued by giving up the MRA belief that men are not able to prevent pregnancy from happening.

The empirical evidence is clear: the net effect of child support laws isn’t that women get pregnant more often to collect on child support. Rather, the stronger child support laws are, the more men work at avoiding pregnancy.

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233 Responses to Men's Rights Myth: Women Trick Men Into Fatherhood So They Can Collect Child Support

  1. 101
    Susan says:

    (Six children by six different mothers. OK the first two, but you’d think prospective mothers five and six would have caught on.)

  2. 102
    Myca says:

    But, the plural of anecdote isn’t data.

    This is something I wish more people would realize, on both sides of not just this issue, but every single issue.

    The hilarious thing is that we’ll often see someone adopt a strict ‘anecdotal evidence doesn’t count’ rule when dealing with an opposing point of view, only to launch almost immediately into their own anecdote, explaining with great relish how this personal experience explains it all.

  3. 103
    Q Grrl says:

    The kids were, of course, better off without this creep, although to my knowledge no rape was involved in their production, so the mothers who chose to sleep with this guy were probably not prizes either.

    Well, from my perspective they are prizes since they raised their children without his emotional, psychological and financial support. I personally have little sympathy for men who pathologically refuse to use condoms (as this man obviously did) and then find they can’t support the upkeep of their laziness and selfishness.

  4. 104
    pheeno says:

    “OK, so why do I have so many clients whose (admittedly screwed up) sons, being way far behind in child support, cannot drive, cannot get a license to do anything, and if they get a job their wages are immediately garnished so they don’t have enough to live on? (Good enough for them, by the way, in my opinion.)”

    Sounds like they kept fucking with their dicks unwrapped and had more kids than they could afford. I mean, if you’re going to say the motherS should have clued in, whats the fathers excuse? He’s the one with 6 kids.

  5. 105
    Susan says:

    My point was not that this guy is some kind of OK guy. Yikes.

    I’m also not trying to allocate responsibility among all these parents, none of whom I have ever met. The easy answer is, of course, they’re ALL responsible. No one was coerced, so far as I know, and everyone knew the probable results of unprotected sex. Did I mention that everyone involved was on drugs?

    My point was, if child support is impossible to enforce, how did they catch up with this guy? (Not that it did anyone any good.) There must be some enforcement mechanism out there – it caught up with this creep at least. The previous anecdotes suggested that it’s fairly easy to just walk away from child support obligations, no penalty. I’m suggesting that in come cases at least there IS a penalty.

    As well there should be.

    I told my younger son, “This is how it works. The instant some girl gets pregnant by you, control passes from your hands to her hands. She can abort the baby, and you can’t stop her. She can NOT abort the baby, and you can’t force her to abort it. She can give the child away, and the only way you can stop her is to take custody yourself. She can NOT give the child away, in which case you are paying child support for 18 years. And if you don’t pay, your economic life above the water ends, the only way you can live is poorly, under the table. So, ponder these issues, BEFORE you have unprotected sex. Because afterwards it’s too late.”

  6. 106
    Brandon says:

    Q Grrl:
    Unless he raped those women, they bear every bit as much responsibility for failing to insist that he use a condom as he does for failing to use one.

    Also, the decision to have unprotected sex isn’t always driven by the man (though I suppose it probably is in most cases). Every woman I’ve ever been with (granted, the N is low) has tried to talk me into skipping the condom at one point or another, and none were using any other form of birth control.

  7. 107
    Q Grrl says:

    Q Grrl:
    Unless he raped those women, they bear every bit as much responsibility for failing to insist that he use a condom as he does for failing to use one.

    Which they did. And then they took on the part where his lazy fuckin’ ass failed to come through.

    Get it?

  8. 108
    crys t says:

    I’d give up, Q: obviously, a woman taking on the feeding, clothing and nurturing of a (n initially, anyway) unwanted child singlehandedly is simply what’s expected….in fact, it probably isn’t punishment enough for her irresponsible, slutty ways.

    Whereas a MAN’s doing the same thing–hell, not even the same thing: just chipping in a bit of money now and again–is a freaking paragon of fatherhood.

  9. 109
    Ampersand says:

    Susan, as the original post pointed out, the strength of enforcement of child support laws vary from state to state. (And, I suspect, vary along other lines as well.)

    So it’s likely that all the anecdotes are true. There are some cases in which child support ends up being enforced very stringently; and also some cases in which it’s basically not enforced at all.

  10. 110
    Q Grrl says:

    Well shit Crys. At least this man didn’t rape those baby mamma bithes.

    Who are we to complain?

    Personally, I think I’m going to try a new social experiment, maybe on the bus ride home: every time a man gets near me, I’m going to slam my thighs together, with umph and flair, and loudly declare “Eradicating deadbeat dads starts here!”

    Whatcha think?

  11. 111
    joe says:

    Susan Writes:

    March 27th, 2007 at 7:57 am
    True enough, Joe, but all the horror stories by custodial parents, immediately above, are not data either.

    Myca Writes:

    March 27th, 2007 at 8:06 am
    But, the plural of anecdote isn’t data.
    This is something I wish more people would realize, on both sides of not just this issue, but every single issue.

    The hilarious thing is that we’ll often see someone adopt a strict ‘anecdotal evidence doesn’t count’ rule when dealing with an opposing point of view, only to launch almost immediately into their own anecdote, explaining with great relish how this personal experience explains it all.

    That’s a good point. I think that sometimes poeple just want to ‘share’ and other times they want to personalize a point they feel they’ve made with data. But mostly I think it’s just poor reasoning.

    Susan Writes:

    March 27th, 2007 at 7:57 am
    The kids are grown. These are back debts. They don’t go away when the children grow up. The kids were, of course, better off without this creep, although to my knowledge no rape was involved in their production, so the mothers who chose to sleep with this guy were probably not prizes either.

    I do think that there should be some mechanism to discharge child support debts in bankruptcy. I think there should be some way to do that with any and all debt. After some point it makes sense to me to allow people a ‘do over’. Obviously it should be set up to minimize moral hazards. e.g. I’d dislike a system that cleared the debt when the kid turned 18 since that would make it too easy to quit early. The devil as always is in the details.

    In terms of priority I don’t think fixing this is a pressing issue. If the legislatures were going to spend time on something like this I’d prefer to see them address incidents where the courts have erroneously determined who the father is. But budgets are usually a higher priority. (rightfully so)

  12. 112
    pheeno says:

    “My point was, if child support is impossible to enforce, how did they catch up with this guy? (Not that it did anyone any good.) There must be some enforcement mechanism out there – it caught up with this creep at least. The previous anecdotes suggested that it’s fairly easy to just walk away from child support obligations, no penalty. I’m suggesting that in come cases at least there IS a penalty.”

    There should be a penalty is all cases, across the board. I found that the more I called, the less they did. The state took his income tax to pay back fees he owed *them*. I got jack. After that, he started working under the table. He makes 2 grand a month. I had to take 2 jobs just to make ends meet. Now that Im making good money, he’s resurfaced and wants to lower what he’s supposed to be paying. He’s ordered to pay 220 a month. He pays zero, so I dont understand how he can pay any less, unless I start giving HIM money.

  13. 113
    mythago says:

    Whatcha think?

    I think you need a T-shirt.

    Joe, so the child is just another creditor?

  14. 114
    joe says:

    mythago Writes:

    March 27th, 2007 at 1:17 pm
    snip
    Joe, so the child is just another creditor?

    No. Or at least not exactly. I haven’t really thought about this enough to have a bullet proof rule. But I’ll take a swing.

    If the ‘child’ is 36 and if there aren’t any other kids under 36 by the man I would say treat the child’s mother as a creditor. IANAL but I know there are different classes of creditor. I’d put the mother ahead of say, sears or VISA.

    At that point the child has been an adult for just as long as it was a minor. If the father hasn’t paid by now they likely never will, and are probably in their late 50′s. So, if we don’t allow bankruptcy the mother get’s nothing and the father is still economically dead. If we DO allow bankruptcy than the mother still gets nothing but the father has some chance to be productive and have a job on the books. (and a drivers license.)

    I’m not really looking for a system that’s lenient. I just don’t think there’s any benefit to never allowing the debt to be discharged.

    I should mention that I have a number of objections to the way that bankruptcy is currently handled in the US.

  15. 115
    mythago says:

    Child support is not like any other debt. I don’t see the value in allowing somebody to get out of paying, or paying full value, if they stall long enough.

  16. 116
    Sailorman says:

    mythago Writes:
    March 27th, 2007 at 1:17 pm
    …Joe, so the child is just another creditor?

    Interesting concept.

    For me, in theory it seems that there’s SOME point where collecting child support from a noncustodial parent ceases to be really about the child, and starts being, hmmm, more like punishment of the parent. I don’t know where that point is though. But at some age (18? 21? 25? 30? 35? 50?) there’s some point where it seems wrong to do so. Wish i could put my finger on it better.

  17. 117
    Q Grrl says:

    Sailorman, the most likely reason that men don’t pay child support is indeed punishment against the mother. Are you ok with the one and not ok with the other?

  18. 118
    Myca says:

    Sailorman, the most likely reason that men don’t pay child support is indeed punishment against the mother. Are you ok with the one and not ok with the other?

    How about if you’re not ok with either? Is there a way to express that?

  19. 119
    Sailorman says:

    No. they should pay (in general, i’m of the “people should do what they are supposed to do” bent; that certainly includes fathers and mothers.)

    I’m not anti-child support. But undischargeable debts bother me.

  20. 120
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    mythago writes:

    Child support is not like any other debt. I don’t see the value in allowing somebody to get out of paying, or paying full value, if they stall long enough.

    How so?

    Seriously.

    How is child support not like any other debt? In a lot of ways that are “good” for deadbeat parents, child support really isn’t like any other debt — the kids grow up, move out, life goes on. I don’t expect my child to pay me back for the money I’ve spent on him, all $200,000 or so thus far in his life.

    We don’t have debtors prisons for a reason in this country, and we do have bankruptcy laws. That tells me that refusing to discharge child support debts is more political than anything. Maybe its “good-political” and not “bad-political”, but there’s nothing carved in stone that says a bankrupt deadbeat parent somehow has to pay what they can never pay, ever.

  21. 121
    joe says:

    mythago Writes:

    March 27th, 2007 at 1:51 pm
    Child support is not like any other debt. I don’t see the value in allowing somebody to get out of paying, or paying full value, if they stall long enough.

    Sailorman Writes:

    March 27th, 2007 at 1:54 pm
    mythago Writes:
    March 27th, 2007 at 1:17 pm
    …Joe, so the child is just another creditor?
    Interesting concept.

    For me, in theory it seems that there’s SOME point where collecting child support from a noncustodial parent ceases to be really about the child, and starts being, hmmm, more like punishment of the parent. I don’t know where that point is though. But at some age (18? 21? 25? 30? 35? 50?) there’s some point where it seems wrong to do so. Wish i could put my finger on it better.

    mythago, I agree that it’s not like any other debt. I also agree that there’s no value in the act of discharging the debt. The value is in allowing the father back into the economic mainstream. At some point the child doesn’t need the money anymore and it’s obvious that the mother is never going to get the money she’s owed. Draw that line wherever you want. Once drawn we have two choices. We, as a society, can let the father back into mainstream economic life or we can keep them out. There are costs and benifits to either choice. If we keep them out we loose whatever value they might be able to offer. If we let them in we encourage people to stall.

    Sailorman, I don’t think it would ever be wrong to collect owed child support. If the child is 60 and their 80 year old father wins the lottery i think the mother should be paid. She’s owed that money, by rights it’s hers.

    I just think that at some point there’s no way it’s going to be paid and the ‘best’ course of action is to allow the father to discharge the debt. Obviously that point needs to be selected to minimize the desire to stall. Also remember that bankruptcy isn’t easy, and it isn’t a total relief. If the judge determines that the father can pay some or all of what’s owed the mother they will have to do so.

    Julie, Herder of Cats Writes:

    March 27th, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    We don’t have debtors prisons for a reason in this country, and we do have bankruptcy laws. That tells me that refusing to discharge child support debts is more political than anything.

    It does serve the purpose of saying that we, as a society will NEVER let you out of your obligations to your children. But I agree with your point in general and I just don’t know if that message is worth the cost.

  22. 122
    Ampersand says:

    Sailorman, the most likely reason that men don’t pay child support is indeed punishment against the mother.

    A number of decent-seeming studies have shown that a reliable predictor of a non-resident father not paying child support is poverty. This suggests that for many fathers, lack of money, not an attempt to punish the mother, is the primary reason for not paying child support.

    Of course, I’m not denying that bitter guys who hate their ex-wives use child support noncompliance as a way of punishing their exes. Of course they do. But when we talk about “deadbeat dads” (or moms), we should acknowledge that in some cases class issues are involved, too.

    My ideal solution would be socialism; lacking that, however, it seems to me that strictly-enforced child support — as flawed as that is — is better than the other options.

  23. 123
    mythago says:

    The value is in allowing the father back into the economic mainstream.

    How about giving the father primary custody and letting him figure out how to deal with raising a child plus providing whatever needs aren’t covered by mom’s share of the support check?

    A better alternative to erasing the debt would be allowing a father who has genuinely lost the economic ability to support his child back into the economic mainstream, if he did so in good faith, similar to the way we allow people with student loans to handle their debt.

    Julie, it’s not like any other debt because parents have legal obligations towards their children because they are parents. Those obligations do not go away unless somebody else assumes them and you lose them–e.g. your child is adopted.

  24. 124
    Susan says:

    A number of decent-seeming studies have shown that a reliable predictor of a non-resident father not paying child support is poverty. This suggests that for many fathers, lack of money, not an attempt to punish the mother, is the primary reason for not paying child support.

    That’s my understanding.

    Mostly deadbeat dads and moms are poor. For several reasons. First, of course, poor people are less likely to be able to pay. Then too, a rich non-custodial parent has a lot to lose. Liens can be filed against properties; his or her ability to drive can be taken away (if you can’t afford a car anyway who cares), and perhaps his or her license to practice a profession can be revoked. All these are powerful motivators, even for the unscrupulous person who doesn’t give a damn about the child.

    The man I mentioned, besides giving up economically, went back on drugs. He will probably become a public charge sooner or later. It’s hard for me to see how anyone’s going to win this one, including the taxpayers. But I’m not clear on what exactly we should do about all this.

  25. 125
    Joe says:

    mythago Writes:
    March 27th, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    How about giving the father primary custody and letting him figure out how to deal with raising a child plus providing whatever needs aren’t covered by mom’s share of the support check?

    That’s possible under the current system. But it would require that the mother not have primary custody. I suppose you could make the argument that mother could put the child up for adoption. But
    1. There’s a lot biology ‘bonding’ the mother with her child.
    2. There’s a lot of societal disapproval for women who give up their babies for adoption.

    I think 2 is a good thing. You can find examples in eastern Europe of how the loss of that stigma affects society. BUT I think we need to be MORE disapproving as a society of fathers that don’t support their children.

    A better alternative to erasing the debt would be allowing a father who has genuinely lost the economic ability to support his child back into the economic mainstream, if he did so in good faith, similar to the way we allow people with student loans to handle their debt.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about with student loans. They also don’t go away with bankruptcy. A system that kept the debt on the books but at some point removed the wage garnishment and loss of driving privileges would accomplish much of the same thing. Is that what you mean? The debt stays but isn’t collects as vigorously after some point? I’d prefer bankruptcy to that. It’s harder on the debtor. Like I said above. I’m not interested in leniency.

    Julie, it’s not like any other debt because parents have legal obligations towards their children because they are parents. Those obligations do not go away unless somebody else assumes them and you lose them–e.g. your child is adopted.

    Doesn’t the obligation end at some point as the child grows up? I think that it should. Now, the debt to the mother for the money you didn’t pay towards support of the child should last a lot longer.

  26. 126
    Joe says:

    Susan Writes:
    March 27th, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    The man I mentioned, besides giving up economically, went back on drugs. He will probably become a public charge sooner or later. It’s hard for me to see how anyone’s going to win this one, including the taxpayers. But I’m not clear on what exactly we should do about all this.

    I understand that drugs addiction is a disease and I think people should be able to hurt themselves however they like. But this guy sounds like a determined loser. I don’t know what society can do about that. I guess we’ll just have to foot his bill for lack a system that can differentiate between determined loser and unlucky.

    I agree that class plays a part. But class plays a role in many ways. I don’t have any data (what did I say about anecdotes earlier? Does anyone have data?) but I can’t think that I’ve ever met anyone in the middle class that has 5 kids by 5 different women. I’m sure they exist but my guess is they’re rare.

    I think that the type of decision making that would lead to that will also lead to a lack of earning potential. I do know that the age where people have children is going up in the middle class in part because people want to focus on careers when they’re younger.

  27. 127
    Susan says:

    Part of the problem with a class analysis is that class is so damn malleable in the US.

    Take my foster son. He’s black (mostly – some Native American). His father is an alcoholic, his mother was barely functional. Most of his family, including his sister, is in prison for dealing drugs. The sister has two kids by two different men. Lower class, right?

    However. This very same guy is also an orthpaedic surgeon who makes north of $6oo,ooo a year. Still lower class?

    So also my Example Man. Except in the other direction. Yes, being a drug addict and having 5 kids with 5 different women and having NO money is lower class behavior if ever I saw it. However, his parents are solidly upper-middle class, comfortable, have an estate of $3million or so. So….what class is he in? Is Example Man a screw-up because he’s poor, or is he poor because he’s a screw-up?

  28. 128
    Brandon says:

    Joe:

    There’s a lot of societal disapproval for women who give up their babies for adoption.

    Really? Where’s it coming from? I’ve heard a lot of conservatives endorse adoption as an alternative to abortion, but I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about adoption (either giving or taking).

  29. 129
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    mythago writes:

    (And I’m responding to her because her reply was shorter than Joe’s, which also covered some of the same points I’m making …)

    How about giving the father primary custody and letting him figure out how to deal with raising a child plus providing whatever needs aren’t covered by mom’s share of the support check?

    Sounds like a plan to me, except there is such a bias against giving father’s custody that it would never fly. And who is going to pay for the lawsuit to make this happen anyway? I went shopping for a lawyer to do a simple revision on a support and custody order and the opening bid was a $10K retainer. I couldn’t find any who’d touch the case for less than a $7,500 retainer, and the last family lawyers I spoke with billed around $375 per hour. How is a parent who cannot afford to make support payments supposed to get a lawyer to do all this work?

    The longer they go unable to hire a lawyer the larger the pile of debt grows, and as we all should know, judges don’t go back and retroactively reduce arearages just because one parent had the misfortune of being out of work.

    A better alternative to erasing the debt would be allowing a father who has genuinely lost the economic ability to support his child back into the economic mainstream, if he did so in good faith, similar to the way we allow people with student loans to handle their debt.

    A better alternative would be finding a way to make it so that child support modifications, when there are legitimate reasons, don’t cost an arm and a leg. If Parent #1 loses their job, Parents #1 and #2 and Children #1, #2 and #2.3 all suffer, except when Parent #1 is a non-custodial parent. Or at least, that’s the theory.

    In practice, the non-custodial parent winds up with an obligation they cannot reduce or dismiss and the custodial parent winds up owed money they are likely to never see. The family court system is then engaged in a losing battle, at taxpayer costs, to recover money that will never be recovered.

    The federal government passed a law a while back that mandates that states set speed limits at levels that produce compliance for roads that are built with federal funds. States should look at ways to work towards increasing compliance in the same manner — parents who can pay something should be ordered to do so, not what a one-size-fits-none set of guidelines dictate, and at the same time, states should work on helping both parties, obligor and obligee, with financial planning so that what little money there is goes further.

    Julie, it’s not like any other debt because parents have legal obligations towards their children because they are parents. Those obligations do not go away unless somebody else assumes them and you lose them–e.g. your child is adopted.

    That’s true until the age of majority, after that, parents no longer have a legal obligation to their children in most jurisdictions and under the vast majority of circumstances.

    Personally, I think 7, 10 or 14 years — take your pick (I pick 14, FWIW) — after legal majority should be the “statute of limitations” for child support. A delinquent parent with no (legally attachable …) means of supporting themself is going to become a burden on society as a whole, and while I have a soft spot in my heart for socialists, I’m much more interested in people paying their own way in life, whenever possible.

  30. 130
    Crys T says:

    Q: I think I’ll join you in your Deadbeat Dads experiment! I’ll try it this afternoon when I go for a coffee.

    Brandon: Yes, conservatives always do point out that adoption is an option for unwanted children……BEFORE the woman gives birth. After women give birth, it’s a whole different story. Of course, any woman who actually carries to term and delivers just “naturally” has to be a mother, and to give up the baby only indicates what a selfish, monstrous slut she is. But of course, if she keeps the child and she’s single, then she’s the dreaded Single Mother (synonymous with Welfare Queen and other popular cultural demons).

    So, how does that work? Get pregnant and abort=Murdering Monster. Get pregnant, carry to term, then give away for adoption=Heartless Monster. Keep child and raise till adulthood=Irresponsible, Greedy, Unfit Parent Monster.

    And that doesn’t even get into the fact that if a woman IS properly married and has a child, she’s Brood Cow Monster, and if she then decides to go back to work before her child is middle-aged, she’s Selfish, Uncaring Bitch Monster, but if she stays at home full-time she’s Lazy Parasite Monster.

    Don’t try to make any sense out of anything surrounding conservative attitudes towards women and childbearing. There is no sense to be found.

  31. 131
    Susan says:

    Crys T, I’m with Brandon, I’ve never heard any disapproval from anyone about giving a child up for adoption. It’s widely viewed as an heroic, self-sacrificing choice.

    As for the rest of what you view as “conservative attitudes,” as of course you recognize, other peoples’ opinions are only important if you think they are.

  32. 132
    Brandon says:

    Crys T:
    I know that at least two of those attitudes (disapproval of abortion and single motherhood) are part of mainstream conservatism, but I’m not even sure that it would be accurate to call someone a conservative if he had all of the opinions which you attribute to conservatives. Respect for married and stay-at-home mothers is pretty much a definitional characteristic of conservatism.

    While many conservatives believe that it’s best for mothers to stay at home with children until they start school, most have no problem at all with mothers who work once their children have started school, and even before that, it’s really only the people on the far fringes who actually attack mothers for working outside the home.

    In short, I think you’re either imagining the attitudes you attribute to conservatives, or attributing to all conservatives the attitudes of a few people on the far fringes of conservatism.

  33. 133
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    Crys,

    I’ve never heard, or seen any evidence of, this “conservatives say once the kid is born you keep it” attitude.

    Up until a few years ago (because I’m now an old fart and don’t want to start ALL.OVER.AGAIN.) it was widely known in some pretty conservative circles (Orthodox Jews, Evangelical Christians) that I was open to adoption and actively working on it. There was never a single hint that mothers who couldn’t raise their kids shouldn’t ever give them up. As I was not looking for a newborn (for a variety of reasons …) I was obviously not looking for a situation where Poor Mom had to give up her unborn bundle of joy.

    (I’d still be willing to do a private party adoption, but don’t have the inclination to go through all the cr@p I would have had to go through years ago as a single, queer parent — score one for the bigots …)

  34. 134
    Mandolin says:

    My grandmother gave up a child for adoption. This is still brought up within the family as a way to disparage her and mark her as an unfit and irresponsible woman.

  35. 135
    mythago says:

    Sounds like a plan to me, except there is such a bias against giving father’s custody that it would never fly.

    Not to mention that I suspect many non-custodial fathers would be against such a plan.

    If Parent #1 loses their job, Parents #1 and #2 and Children #1, #2 and #2.3 all suffer, except when Parent #1 is a non-custodial parent.

    In which case Parent #1 should get a special exemption and Parent #2 should pick up the slack?

    That’s the element I see missing from all the discussion about the plight of the deadbeat parent: somebody has to meet the children’s living expenses, and if the non-custodial parent isn’t doing so, that means their burden is shifted to the custodial parent–whose income-making ability is limited by the necessity of being a caretaker of minor children.

  36. 136
    crys t says:

    Brandon and Julie: then where do all these messages I’m constantly seeing expressed by American media, Americans who post on various Internet fora, Americans I knew in my daily life while I was living there, etc. coming from?

    I don’t doubt that actual practice may not reflect what’s said (just like there are many, many who are vocally anti-abortion but don’t hesitate to terminate pregnancies when it’s them/their daughters/their sisters/etc.), but there is a very negative social stereotype of women who “give up” their babies. Don’t tell me there isn’t, because every time you turn around, there’s some unspeakably awful television film about it–that has to come from somewhere.

  37. 137
    crys t says:

    Oh, and Brandon, your comment about how “other people’s opinions are only important if you think they are” is (yet again) one of those statements that could only come from someone so privileged that he is completely blind to how most of the world actually lives.

  38. 138
    Susan says:

    Oh, and Brandon, your comment about how “other people’s opinions are only important if you think they are” is (yet again) one of those statements that could only come from someone so privileged that he is completely blind to how most of the world actually lives.

    I said that, Brandon didn’t.

    Please to demonstrate that your statement isn’t just another attack which has no foundation. Very easy to make such claims.

  39. 139
    Susan says:

    Here’s the deal.

    If you believe what the abusers say, and internalize it, then you’re giving them the power. Then, the only way out is to convince them to stop being abusers, which isn’t going to happen.

    The way out is to not believe them. Call these fictions for what they are. Live in your own good regard and ignore what they say or think.

    My advice? Don’t do this. It doesn’t harm the abusers one whit. The only person it harms is you.

  40. 140
    Sailorman says:

    Opinions matter. I, personally, have done many things in my life for reasons that essentially boil down to “…because others will like what I’m doing, and not dislike what I’m doing.”

    Susan, I suspect that point you are trying to make is a bit more precise. Are you saying that others’ opinions are relevant, sure, but they’re not a limit on one’s actions to the same extent as laws, finances, health, etc?

    That’s surely true: the limits on adoption because conservatives may or may not LIKE it are in an entirely different category than limits which are more concrete. but practically speaking they are important to many fokls anyway.

  41. 141
    Ampersand says:

    Susan wrote: “…other peoples’ opinions are only important if you think they are.”

    Susan, I disagree with you about that, for reasons I discussed in this post.

  42. 142
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    mythago writes:

    Sounds like a plan to me, except there is such a bias against giving father’s custody that it would never fly.

    Not to mention that I suspect many non-custodial fathers would be against such a plan.

    Right on cue we have a classic example of said bias. The presumptive assertion that fathers have no interest in raising their children.

    I’ll be sending your check.

    (Note: There will be no real check. Please don’t stand by the mailbox waiting for it.)

    If Parent #1 loses their job, Parents #1 and #2 and Children #1, #2 and #2.3 all suffer, except when Parent #1 is a non-custodial parent.

    In which case Parent #1 should get a special exemption and Parent #2 should pick up the slack?

    Yes? How is that not the right answer?

    Parent #1 and Parent #2 engage in ugly bumping, and produce Child #1. Parent #1 and Parent #2 proceed to raise said Child #1. Parent #1 through no fault of their own find themself unemployed.

    Who in this scenario picks up the slack? Is the answer “Parent #2″ only if Parent #1 and Parent #2 are still married? Or is Parent #1 expected to sell a kidney or knock over a liquor store in order to continue preventing slack?

    I don’t think parents, or anyone for that matter, believes that unemployment means they will continue to have money to pay the bills, and given that, I have to believe that the other parent is aware that unemployment can result in some financial hardship. Not to say that financial stability is a bad thing or anything, but divorce and a child support award shouldn’t be some kind of state-enforced guarantee of what doesn’t exist in real life.

    There is a solution, and I think it’s probably one the various and sundry socialists here might even like (see, I do have a tender spot in my heart for socialists) — people who have custody orders against them should have to pay a form of unemployment tax, just like those of us who work all do anyway, that would cover a part of their child support in the event of unemployment (Hey, I like this idea so much I might just send it to my US Senator. Hmmmmm.) But I think it is wrong to increase the risk exposure non-custodial parents have to unemployment (Oh, and for what it’s worth, I think custodial parents should have to pay into the same system — sauce, goose, gander — against their own unemployment and the child’s needs. I’ll lose all my Conservative cred if I keep proposing taxes, even if they are For The Children.)

    That’s the element I see missing from all the discussion about the plight of the deadbeat parent: somebody has to meet the children’s living expenses, and if the non-custodial parent isn’t doing so, that means their burden is shifted to the custodial parent–whose income-making ability is limited by the necessity of being a caretaker of minor children.

    Right, because unemployment magically happens to “deadbeats” and never, ever happens to non-custodial parents who want to take care of their children.

  43. 143
    Robert says:

    As a good libertarian, I can’t support Susan’s state solution, but there is an admirable private-initiative version: in the contractual settlement surrounding the divorce, both custodial and non-custodial parents can set up a support “insurance” fund, with each of the contributing in some agreed proportion, for use if one party or the other is unable to meet their expected contribution to the children’s welfare.

  44. 144
    Robert says:

    Oh, sorry, that’s JULIE’S solution. My bad.

  45. 145
    mythago says:

    The presumptive assertion that fathers have no interest in raising their children.

    Where did I say this, please? Oh, that’s right–I didn’t.

    Are you really claiming that 50% of divorced fathers would love to be primary or joint physical caretakers of their children if only the courts would allow them to be? That the majority of non-custodial dads are only noncustodial because of a biased court system? Heck, I’m all for a fair system that gives fathers primary custody at least half the time. The US workplace is never going to think of parenting responsibilities as anything but “you had it, you deal with it” until significant numbers of men are also trying to juggle sick kids and client meetings.

    In a marriage, if a breadwinner loses her job, there are still bills to pay and the kids cost money. Nobody proposes that our taxes go to fund a special “Broke Breadwinner Fund” to help them with those expenses. There’s also a distinct lack of symmetry in your plan: a custodial parent who is unemployed doesn’t get to ask the non-custodial parent for more money, and doesn’t get the benefit of an ‘unemployment tax’ to cover expenses until he or she finds another job.

    Right, because unemployment magically happens to “deadbeats” and never, ever happens to non-custodial parents who want to take care of their children.

    Non sequitur. Just like your imaginary check.

  46. 146
    Joe says:

    I think that if the non-custodial parent looses their job. They should make that money up. I also think they should (and are) able to get the payment adjusted as their circumstances change. My cousins and her ex-husband did this regularly as his overtime at the plant fluctuated. (She’d ask it be moved up, he down) The idea of an insurance fund is interesting but I think pointless. People that are most likely to need it are least like to want to do it or be able to afford it. The premium is likely to be a killer for someone without a secure source of income. Also, this is just a special type of rainy day fund. Everyone should have one of those. Before they buy new shoes or a nice dinner out they should have 500$ in the bank. Before they buy a TV they should have 1000$ in the bank. Before they buy cable TV, a computer, and an internet connection they should have 6 months expenses. Also no one should carry a credit card balance unless there’s an emergency. And I had to walk through snow up hill…sorry I seem to be channeling my grandmother. She lived through the great depression and has firm ideas on saving.

    Anyway, I think the best solution is more societal pressure on people (in this case men) to take better care of their children. I don’t care what economic system you prefer (fascist/communist/anarcho-capitalist/socialist/capitalist/whatever) it’s a pretty common agreement that children need to be cared for and that ideally the biological parents should be the ones to do that. (boctaoe)

    I also still think that at some point we as a society should let up, and allow the deadbeat back into the tent. (I’m thinking bankruptcy when the last kid turns 36 is a good spot. Twice the age of the child has a nice symmetry to it.) But again, low priority on that.

  47. 147
    Joe says:

    mythago Writes:
    March 28th, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    In a marriage, if a breadwinner loses her job, there are still bills to pay and the kids cost money. Nobody proposes that our taxes go to fund a special “Broke Breadwinner Fund” to help them with those expenses. There’s also a distinct lack of symmetry in your plan: a custodial parent who is unemployed doesn’t get to ask the non-custodial parent for more money, and doesn’t get the benefit of an ‘unemployment tax’ to cover expenses until he or she finds another job.

    Doesn’t everyone that paid in and than looses their job get to collect unemployment insurance already?

  48. 148
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    mythago writes:

    The presumptive assertion that fathers have no interest in raising their children.

    Where did I say this, please? Oh, that’s right–I didn’t.

    So … why do you say it below?

    Are you really claiming that 50% of divorced fathers would love to be primary or joint physical caretakers of their children if only the courts would allow them to be? That the majority of non-custodial dads are only noncustodial because of a biased court system? Heck, I’m all for a fair system that gives fathers primary custody at least half the time. The US workplace is never going to think of parenting responsibilities as anything but “you had it, you deal with it” until significant numbers of men are also trying to juggle sick kids and client meetings.

    The US workplace already has to deal with fathers who want to be fathers and not just walking wallets.

    Surprise! The day you’ve been waiting for has arrived! You can work on some other problem!!!

    Standard custody orders, at least for states like Texas, have non-custodial parents with about 60% possession and non-custodial parents with about 40%. I can post the rules, but the basics are alternating numbered weekends starting Friday afternoon and ending Monday morning, basically a 3 days weekend (NCP gets 28, CP gets 24), midweek (52 of them), split of 4 week long holidays (spring break, t-day, x-mas, new years), and a month in the summer for the NCP. That’s what a Texas standard order works out to, with some extra days thrown in — Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc., I have extra days for some extra curricular activities and certain religious holidays, so I have more than Standard. A “Non-Custodial” parent doesn’t have “no” time, they actually have … a lot of time.

    “Non-Custodial” doesn’t mean “Never”. And it doesn’t mean “Never takes the child to the doctor like I had to do earlier in the month and do now for all kinds of appointments and extracurricular activities, plus picking up from school and dropping off and teachers conferences”. Non custodial parents — men and women — have been doing this in Texas for at least the 11 years I’ve been a “Non Custodial” parent.

    Keep in mind — Standard Custody Order. Heck O’ Lota Time.

    And before you tell us about the miserable excuse for a human you divorced, just remember — the plural of “anecdote” is not “fact”.

  49. 149
    mythago says:

    So … why do you say it below?

    Julie, pretending your opponent took an extreme rather than a moderate position is a fairly transparent old trick. Please move on.

    Surprise! The day you’ve been waiting for has arrived!

    Really? The US has mandatory family-leave policies and leave is used just as much by fathers as by mothers? Childcare and flextime arrangements are common in the workplace, and are not seen as “women’s issues”? Oh, wait, you’re a “Conservative”, you’re opposed to all that.

    And before you tell us about the miserable excuse for a human you divorced

    Project much?

  50. 150
    pheeno says:

    “Standard custody orders, at least for states like Texas, have non-custodial parents with about 60% possession and non-custodial parents with about 40%. I can post the rules, but the basics are alternating numbered weekends starting Friday afternoon and ending Monday morning, basically a 3 days weekend (NCP gets 28, CP gets 24), midweek (52 of them), split of 4 week long holidays (spring break, t-day, x-mas, new years), and a month in the summer for the NCP”

    Mine says 6 pm friday to 6 pm sunday, every other weekend and 3 hours on wednesdays.

  51. 151
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    pheeno writes:

    Mine says 6 pm friday to 6 pm sunday, every other weekend and 3 hours on wednesdays.

    And mine says I get 47.5% (and I’m working on the other 2.5% — I might even get it before tiny munchkin turns 18!) of the time, pay $1,300 a month for one child, prepay college, and a few other things. I guess that’s what every non-custodial parent has on their orders. Ho-hum.

    All together now –

    “The plural of anecdote is not ‘fact’”.

    A STANDARD Texas Custody Order, by law (“fact”) is from the time the child is dismissed from school, or 6pm Friday, until 6pm Sunday or the time the child is returned to school Monday (unless Monday is not a school day, in which case it’s more complicated …) or 8am unless the possessory conservator wishes otherwise (. Section 153.312, Texas Family Code). The mid-week period is from the time the child is dismissed from school, or 6pm, Wednesday (or Thursday these days or …) until 8pm or the time the child returns the following morning (or extending through the weekend).

    PLUS an entire month in the Summer.

    PLUS two entire weeks at two of Spring Break, Thanksgiving, X-Mas and New Years.

    PLUS more fun stuff — Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, stuff I probably forgot.

    Those are the facts, pheeno, anyone who wishes to look up Texas Civil Law is free to do so (I’ve provided the URL …) and confirm them for themselves, without having to be told that your miserable excuse for a human ex husband didn’t want what was his by law, or that you didn’t want him to have what was his by law.

    Really? The US has mandatory family-leave policies and leave is used just as much by fathers as by mothers? Childcare and flextime arrangements are common in the workplace, and are not seen as “women’s issues”? Oh, wait, you’re a “Conservative”, you’re opposed to all that.

    I am not a “Conservative”. It’s easy to confuse me for a “Conservative” if you don’t pay attention.

    To answer your question, no, people who don’t give birth to children tend not to stay home afterwards because Americans are, in general, pretty bad at saving enough money to take extended leaves from work. And while I have a soft spot in my heart for Socialists, I tend to think people should pay their own way in life. That’s probably what makes you think I’m a “Conservative” — expecting people to save their money and pay their own way.

  52. 152
    Joe says:

    Julie, Herder of Cats Writes:
    March 29th, 2007 at 3:35 am

    All together now –

    “The plural of anecdote is not ‘fact’”.

    The much quoted phrase is ” The plural of anecdote isn’t data.” The idea is that while your anecdote may be true and a fact it’s not necessarily typical. Therefore it isn’t as persuasive as say, a statistically significant controlled study that’s be published in a peer reviewed journal with published data for independent analysis.

    I’m pretty sure that’s what you meant.

  53. 153
    Crys T says:

    Sorry Brandon for attributing Susan’s comment about opinons to you. And sorry to Susan for attributig your quote to Brandon.

    Also Susan, I’m sure that every single one of the people posting here could come up with myriad examples about how “other people’s opinions” have devastated their lives. And that’s only on the individual level. Groups are also affected by opinions.

    I stand by my appraisal.

  54. 154
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for the clarification. I’d never heard that quote before in any of its incarnations.

    I’m particularly touchy on the subject of “Non-Custodial Parents” (whoda thunk it) because there is often this bizarre assertion in discussions about children, child custody and child support, that “Non-Custodial Parents” somehow don’t actually have custody or expenses. The focus is almost entirely on the Custodial Parent who may have overall expenses substantially lower (or higher) and lengths of possessions which are scarcely longer than the “Non-Custodial Parent”.

    Terms like “Custodial” and “Non-Custodial” are themselves part of the problem, because they linguistically seem to imply that one has “all” and the other has “none”. Kind of like “Non-Dairy Creamer” has no dairy, “Non-Fat Milk” has no fat, and other things where the prefix “Non” indicates a lack of. I prefer to describe custody either with terms like “Sole” or “Joint” and include possession as a ration. It makes for a much more accurate discussion.

    In the case of “Non-Custodial Parents”, we don’t have … none … we have … less. In my case, I have 174 (more or less — at this point, it’s so close to 50/50 that I could wind up with more if my ex would ever actually go on a week long vacation …) days out of 365 annual days of custody, and spend a total of some $28,900 (more or less) on my (one) child each year. If I use the “Per Capita” method used by the folks who set child support guidelines, instead of the “Marginal Cost” method I used for the amount given earlier, that increases to $37,600.

    (BTW — my custody agreement, and Texas Family Law, don’t use “Non-Custodial Parent” to describe me. I’m a “Joint Managing Conservator”. Notice the word “Joint”. It’s only in discussions where people want to argue about who has it worse, and when the IRS wants to pretend that my ex spends more than me, that “Custodial” and “Non-Custodial” come into play.)

  55. 155
    mythago says:

    I am not a “Conservative”.

    You said “I’ll lose all my Conservative cred if I keep proposing taxes”, above.

    To answer your question, no, people who don’t give birth to children tend not to stay home afterwards because Americans are, in general, pretty bad at saving enough money to take extended leaves from work.

    That tends to suggests that they can’t afford for people who do give birth to children to take extended leaves from work, no? But if you think people should ‘pay their own way,’ I’m not sure why you’re insisting that therefore we do (in the US) have a workplace where the needs of parents are recognized. (If you’re a parent, surely you’re aware that “extended leaves from work” does not cover until the kid is 18.)

    Terms like “Custodial” and “Non-Custodial” are themselves part of the problem, because they linguistically seem to imply that one has “all” and the other has “none”.

    Very true. “Joint”, unfortunately, suggests 50/50 in all respects, when it probably ranges from your might-as-well-be-the-same custody to “on weekends”.

  56. 156
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    pheeno writes:

    You said “I’ll lose all my Conservative cred if I keep proposing taxes”, above.

    Such is the life of those of us who live in the middle. If we suggest people pay their own way, we lose our Liberal cred, and if we propose taxes, we lose our Conservative cred. There’s more to life than polar opposites. Some of us prefer life closer to the tropics …

    That tends to suggests that they can’t afford for people who do give birth to children to take extended leaves from work, no? But if you think people should ‘pay their own way,’ I’m not sure why you’re insisting that therefore we do (in the US) have a workplace where the needs of parents are recognized. (If you’re a parent, surely you’re aware that “extended leaves from work” does not cover until the kid is 18.)

    I don’t think the workplace is obligated to hand out free money. It’s that Capitalist in me (tho I think workers should own the means of production — feel free to read Marx on the subject …) that thinks money doesn’t somehow grow on trees.

    I believe in FMLA, and I wish more fathers took more time off, but most of the people I speak to when asked “Why aren’t you still at home?” tell me they need the money, so they work. The workplace should =enable= parents to care for children, not pay for it. It’s not some either/or decision — either the workplace hands a parent a giant pot full of money and 18 years off, or workers are tossed on the street as soon as they become parents.

    Very true. “Joint”, unfortunately, suggests 50/50 in all respects, when it probably ranges from your might-as-well-be-the-same custody to “on weekends”.

    Well, when I find some “Non-Fat Milk” that has more than 0% milkfat (or more than “as close to 0% as practical”), I’ll consider your complaint to be a valid one. “Non”, as a prefix, means “None”. Not “Some”, not even “once in a blue moon”. None. Zero, zilch, zip, nada. Here, have a definition:

    non-

    prefix

    Definition:

    not, without, the opposite of
    nonaggression
    nonassessable

    (non-: Definition)

    “joint”, however, does not mean “exactly equal” –

    adjective

    Definition:

    1. done together: done or produced together with others
    A joint statement was issued by the three party leaders.

    2. sharing same role: sharing the same role or position with another person or body.
    My brother and I were appointed joint executors of her will.

    3. owned in common: owned in common by two or more people or concerns
    joint assets

    4. combined: existing and operating in combination
    the joint ravages of the weather and pollution.

    (joint: Definition)

    As I said, I prefer that custody be described as “Sole” or “Joint” with the ratio of custody being given. In my case, I have joint custody with about 47.5% time of possession. Not sure what you’ve got, but that’s what I’ve got.

  57. 157
    mythago says:

    Well, when I find some “Non-Fat Milk” that has more than 0% milkfat (or more than “as close to 0% as practical”), I’ll consider your complaint to be a valid one

    “Complaint”? Are you actually reading anything posted here, or are you just closing your eyes, pointing to random sentences on the screen, and then arguing? FurryCatHerder correctly pointed out that “non-custodial” is not an accurate term, and I agree.

    I believe in FMLA

    Whoops, there goes your Conservative cred.

    As I said way back when, the issue isn’t really whether you get a few days off after childbirth; it’s that childrearing is seen as a private issue, and “my kid is sick” is not any more important than “there’s a baseball game I’d love to catch”. That attitude is not going to change until both women and men start to insist that it change.

    Not sure what you’ve got

    Why do you assume I am a divorced parent?

  58. 158
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    Mythago,

    Sorry, I thought you were pheeno. And “Furry” and I are the same.

  59. 159
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    mythago write:

    (Have I said lately how much I hate the Word Press software?)

    I believe in FMLA

    Whoops, there goes your Conservative cred.

    Oh, I lost almost all of it years ago. It’s just that people keep giving it back to me every time I say something like “People should be responsible for their own needs in life.” Then I have to say “I believe in FMLA” or quote Marx.

    As I said way back when, the issue isn’t really whether you get a few days off after childbirth; it’s that childrearing is seen as a private issue, and “my kid is sick” is not any more important than “there’s a baseball game I’d love to catch”. That attitude is not going to change until both women and men start to insist that it change.

    My experience is that most employers, in the 21st century, recognize that “My kid is sick” is way more important than “I need to slack off”. Even between the sexes I’ve seen, in my adult lifetime, huge changes in social attitudes. Thirteen years ago I saw almost no fathers picking up or dropping off kids at school, or at any event that wasn’t sports or Boy Scouts. Today I run into fathers all over the place with kids. Not 50/50 yet, but definitely better than when I first got into the parent biz 22 years ago.

  60. 160
    mythago says:

    My experience

    What’s that thing about the plural of anecdote again?

    Of course things are better than 20+ years ago. (20+ years ago, it was perfectly legal for my mother to be told openly by a boss “No broad is going to make partner as long as I’m at this firm”.) That doesn’t mean they’re good, or anything close to 50/50.

  61. 161
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    mythago writes:

    Of course things are better than 20+ years ago. (20+ years ago, it was perfectly legal for my mother to be told openly by a boss “No broad is going to make partner as long as I’m at this firm”.) That doesn’t mean they’re good, or anything close to 50/50.

    That’s only true for very large values of 20. Title VII was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That’s a pretty big value of 20 :)

    In particular, single father households have grown dramatically since Title VII (though I doubt we can credit Title VII for that …). Using smaller values of 20, the shift in paternal involvement began in the 1970′s precisely because of the changes in men’s attitudes towards shared parenting, as well as changing social roles, as has been shown in some research for years where 20 has a value closer to 10 + 10.

  62. 162
    Pat A Cake says:

    Susan writes,

    “I told my younger son, “This is how it works. The instant some girl gets pregnant by you, control passes from your hands to her hands. She can abort the baby, and you can’t stop her. She can NOT abort the baby, and you can’t force her to abort it. She can give the child away, and the only way you can stop her is to take custody yourself. She can NOT give the child away, in which case you are paying child support for 18 years. And if you don’t pay, your economic life above the water ends, the only way you can live is poorly, under the table. So, ponder these issues, BEFORE you have unprotected sex. Because afterwards it’s too late.”

    How about teaching him to be a kind and caring human being so if he does end up in this situation, WHETHER INTENTIONAL OR NOT, he’ll chose to become an actual father instead of a resentful, irresponsible, schmuck living in fear of ending up under a bridge. If you grew up with a good father, I’m sure you are greatful that he decided not to run for the hills (or the troll-bridge).

  63. 163
    mythago says:

    That’s only true for very large values of 20.

    The Civil Rights Act was not, at that time, thought to apply to businesses that were partnerships, like law firms. And enforcement of what laws existed was not exactly as vigorous as today.

    Isn’t it easier just to teach kids “Stick to homosex, you’ll never have to worry about a little surprise”? :P

  64. 164
    Susan says:

    How about teaching him to be a kind and caring human being so if he does end up in this situation, WHETHER INTENTIONAL OR NOT, he’ll chose to become an actual father instead of a resentful, irresponsible, schmuck living in fear of ending up under a bridge. If you grew up with a good father, I’m sure you are greatful that he decided not to run for the hills (or the troll-bridge).

    Pat, you can’t know this, but the son in question is seriously mentally ill. Of course if possible it’s always better to raise both our sons and our daughters to be loving and responsible people. In this case it wasn’t possible to have much impact on his behavior, much of which is dictated by illness.

    I only meant the tale as an example of the power shift in this kind of relationship. If the male in question is not anxious to be caught in this particular dilemma, whatever the rest of his character may be like, he would be well advised not to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse.

    Some of these men have the nerve to act surprised when intercourse results in pregnancy. (No!) Thus the “entrapped” in the title of this thread. Like she raped him or something. Even if – or especially if – the male in question is mentally ill or just a schmuck, he needs to exercise some rudimentary alertness, or at least not claim later that, well, it was all a trap of some kind.

  65. 165
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    mythago writes:

    That’s only true for very large values of 20.

    The Civil Rights Act was not, at that time, thought to apply to businesses that were partnerships, like law firms. And enforcement of what laws existed was not exactly as vigorous as today.

    Exceptions don’t prove rules. I know English speakers have a hard time translating “prufung” to mean anything other than “prove” (it means “test” …), but the existence of someone, somewhere, who wasn’t protected, somehow, by Title VII doesn’t invalidate the overall factoid that Title VII made sex discrimination in employment illegal in 1964 (and wage discrimination became illegal in 1963, which is an even larger value of 20 …)

    And I’ll note that you ignored the links showing changes in men’s attitudes about fatherhood that I provided in #157 upthread. :p

    Isn’t it easier just to teach kids “Stick to homosex, you’ll never have to worry about a little surprise”? :P

    Hey, I want grandchildren. I expect tiny munchkin to be out producing grandchildren at every possible turn, all of which will then be spoiled as rotten as I can possibly manage.

  66. 166
    mythago says:

    Exceptions don’t prove rules.

    This isn’t a “rule”, it’s a law. Laws are pretty specific about what they apply to; if a law says “employees of a business with more than 50 people have rights A, B, and C,” then the law doesn’t apply to you if you work for a tiny cafe that employs 10 people. Your employer, if it is a partnership, may argue that they do not meet the definition of “employer” under the law.

    The point you’d rather avoid is that it’s not the case that all gender discrimination in all employment everywhere vanished in 1964.

    And I’ll note that you ignored the links showing changes in men’s attitudes about fatherhood that I provided in #157 upthread. :p

    I’m sorry to disappoint you by refusing to disagree with you on everything.

  67. 167
    Julie, Herder of Cats says:

    mythago writes:

    This isn’t a “rule”, it’s a law. Laws are pretty specific about what they apply to; if a law says “employees of a business with more than 50 people have rights A, B, and C,” then the law doesn’t apply to you if you work for a tiny cafe that employs 10 people. Your employer, if it is a partnership, may argue that they do not meet the definition of “employer” under the law.

    The point you’d rather avoid is that it’s not the case that all gender discrimination in all employment everywhere vanished in 1964.

    Uh, no, that’s not at all a point I’m trying to avoid. I just don’t expect the world to improve overnight, and I don’t consider a failure of things to change instantly to be proof of an overall failure. A substantial amount of discrimination was made illegal in 1964, and over the years the loopholes have been closed, with fewer remaining open year over year. We should, of course, continue to solve problems as they are identified.

    I herd cats for a living, I’ve learned to be patient. Otherwise I’d go crazy …

    I’m sorry to disappoint you by refusing to disagree with you on everything.

    Oh, damn. Now you’re being all reasonable and stuff.

  68. 168
    Pat A Cake says:

    Susan wrote:

    “I only meant the tale as an example of the power shift in this kind of relationship. If the male in question is not anxious to be caught in this particular dilemma, whatever the rest of his character may be like, he would be well advised not to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse. ”

    The “power-shift” only exists when he decides not to be a father and live up to his responsibilities”. GET IT?

  69. 169
    Dick Masterson says:

    “And who has the most incentive to prevent pregnancy, women or men? I’d say women do. ”

    You couldn’t be any more wrong.

    -Dick

  70. 170
    Jonny Doe says:

    With respect to the issue on women tricking men into pregnancy, i’ve noticed one thing missing from all the boards, maybe someone can help me out. Do men ever HELP a woman on taking her birth control? I mean like he also reminds her everyday, so they are sharing the responsibility to have safe sex together, not just her having that responsibility alone. Avoiding pregnancy is a responsibility right?

    Call me crazy, but i think there is a big distinction between an ineffective birth control pill and a girl forgetting to take them. I don’t think forgetting should happen, and IF it does, then there’s no way the guy can complain, he was supposed to be on top of it too.

    That was what I did and i never worried once about getting a girl pregnant. Of course, birth control between a man and woman is very intimate situation, and i’d be interested to hear how guys and girls handle this, and any comments on my suggestion

  71. 171
    Thomas Stone says:

    This is the most rediculous thing I’ve ever heard of. No amout of child support can fully cover the expense of raising a child. The mother’s in question are saddled with the burden of raising these children for the next 18 years with limited funding and limited time/resources to improve their own condition to actually be able to provide a better life for their children, on their own, without the support of the fathers. And, I won’t even go into the emotional toll of worrying and self sacrifice of time and resources.

    If a man doesn’t want to “get trapped” into paying child support, he should keep his dick in his pants or put a rubber on it — Actually, make that two rubbers. Better yet, get a vasectomy.

    This blog is a classic example of boys who refuse to grow up, aka Narcissim.

  72. 172
    AzaleaDream says:

    I think child support laws are flawed in that 1) men should have the option to sign over all parental rights and responsibilities for the same length of time that one could give a child up for adoption. This would admonish the parent of child support of any other responsibility- as well as right to be a parent to that child. Having sex is not consent to parenthood, regardles sof which chromosomes you were born with.

    The ridiculousnes sof child support laws are so outrageous that men and young boys who were RAPED (yes RAPED) have been forced to pay child support to their rapists as well. Even when the man/boy was drugged, even when he was disabled- courts victim-blame male rape victims. If a man raped a teenaged girl, took the child and forced her to pay child support we’d all raise hell. Fluke or not NONE of us would say “oh its in the best interest of the child to live with the rapist and have teh rape vicitm pay child support.”

  73. 173
    Danny says:

    As much as people would like to dismiss it as myth it does happen and guys in that situation are left with little recourse.

    If a man doesn’t want to “get trapped” into paying child support, he should keep his dick in his pants or put a rubber on it — Actually, make that two rubbers. Better yet, get a vasectomy.
    Yeah for as hip as and righteous as that sounds I wonder if you would tell a woman with an unexpected child that she should have kept it out of her pants.

    I think that one thing that would help with this would be the development of more birth control options for men. Hell if men supposedly want power then it makes sense to have power to product children only when they are ready, willing, and able.

  74. 174
    Ampersand says:

    Would I say that women who want to avoid having children, to be absolutely safe, should not have sex? (Or at least, not penis in vagina sex?)

    To recycle something I wrote earlier this thread:

    I wouldn’t say that about women because men and women don’t have the same reproductive systems; women get pregnant and can therefore choose to have an abortion. Men don’t and therefore don’t have that choice.

    If I say that short people will have to live with the fact that tall people have a higher reach, does that mean I’m advocating prejudice against short people?

    Women can get pregnant. That gives women the ability to have abortions (and it gives women many, many severe disadvantages that MRAs ignore). Both men and women have the right to control their reproductive systems to reduce the risk of parenthood, but their exact options differ because their reproductive systems differ.

    To quote one judge’s ruling:

    While it is true that after conception a woman has more control than a man over the decision whether to bear a child, and may unilaterally refuse to obtain an abortion, those facts were known to the father at the time of conception. The choice available to a woman vests in her by the fact that she, and not the man, must carry the child and must undergo whatever traumas, physical and mental, may be attendant to either childbirth or abortion. Any differing treatment accorded men and women … is owed not to the operation of [state law] but to the operation of nature.

    Ince v. Bates, 558 P.2d 1253, 1254 (Or. App. 1977).

  75. 175
    Robert says:

    I would agree entirely with that judge’s ruling if you substituted “should be” for the final “is”.

  76. 176
    Danny says:

    If I say that short people will have to live with the fact that tall people have a higher reach, does that mean I’m advocating prejudice against short people?
    Certainly not and at the same time if options came along for short people I’m sure you would not shrug it off and tell them something to the effect of, “Well you should have known.” which is told to guys when it comes to parenting.

  77. 177
    Mandolin says:

    Am I remembering correctly that, in Sweden, the government indicates to women who are considering abortions that it will pay for their care if the women decide not to have one?

    Tentatively, I’d like to see something like that in place where men (or women? haven’t thought that out) could terminate their parental rights in exchange for having the government pick up the child support obligation..

    *

    I certainly think it’s appalling that men have been made responsible for child support payments to women who raped them. Do we have evidence of this happening? Apart from drive-by commenters’ assertions, I mean?

  78. 178
    Myca says:

    I certainly think it’s appalling that men have been made responsible for child support payments to women who raped them. Do we have evidence of this happening? Apart from drive-by commenters’ assertions, I mean?

    From here:

    II. “YES, YOU WERE UNDERAGE. NOW PAY YOUR CHILD SUPPORT.”

    What if, however, the man is legally incapable of “intending” to have sexual intercourse because he is underage? Is he still liable for child support? Again, the answer is yes.

    In every case that has addressed the issue, the court has held that a man who was underage at the time of the conception of the child, and was therefore a victim of statutory rape, is nonetheless liable for child support. Typical of the reasoning in these cases is San Luis Obispo County v. Nathaniel J., 50 Cal. App. 4th 842, 57 Cal. Rptr. 2d 843 (1996). In that case, the court stated:

    One who is injured as a result of a criminal act in which he willingly participated is not a typical crime victim. It does not necessarily follow that he is a victim of sexual abuse.

    The law should not except Nathaniel J. from this responsibility because he is not an innocent victim of Jones’s criminal acts. After discussing the matter, he and Jones had sexual intercourse approximately five times over a two week period.

    50 Cal. App. 4th at 845, 57 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 844. Similarly, in State ex rel. Hermesmann v. Seyer, 252 Kan. 646, 847 P.2d 1273, 1279 (1993), the court concluded:

    This State’s interest in requiring minor parents to support their children overrieds the State’s competing interest in protecting juveniles from improvident acts, even when such acts may include criminal activity on the part of the other parent…. This minor child, the only truly innocent party, is entitled to support from both her parents regardless of their ages.

    Accord Schierenbeck v. Minor, 367 P.2d 333 (Colo. 1961); Department of Revenue ex rel. Bennett v. Miller, 688 So. 2d 1024 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997); In re Paternity of J.S., 193 Ill. App. 3d 563, 550 N.E.2d 257 (1990); Rush v. Hatfield, 929 S.W.2d 200 (Ky. Ct. App. 1996); Commonwealth v. A Juvenile, 387 Mass. 678, 442 N.E.2d 1155 (1982); Jevning v. Chicos, 499 N.W.2d 515 (Minn. 1993); Mercer County v. Alf M., 155 Misc. 2d 703, 589 N.Y.S.2d 288 (Fam. Ct. 1992); In re Paternity of J.L.H., 149 Wis. 2d 349, 441 N.W.2d 273 (1989). Cf. Division of Child Support Enforcement ex rel. Esther M. v. Mary L., No. 94-33812 (1994.DE.19031), (mother of children did not have to pay child support for children conceived as a result of the rape/incest of her brother; intercourse was involuntary and nonconsensual).

    The message from these cases is equally clear: If a man intends to have sexual intercourse with a woman and a baby results, the man is liable for child support. The sexual intercourse in these cases is “factually voluntary” and thus intentional, even if it is nonconsensual in the criminal sense.

    Aaaaand, see, this is why our age of consent laws are bullshit. But I digress.

    —Myca

  79. 179
    Myca says:

    Additionally, from that same article (which Amp actually linked in the original post). even if a man is unconscious and unknowingly and unwillingly ejaculates as a result of being raped, he is liable for child support:

    Another case reaching the same result on facts that are, quite frankly, bizarre is S.F. v. Alabama ex rel. T.M., 695 So. 2d 1186 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996). In that case, the father testified that he went to a party at the mother’s house. He had been drinking for several hours before he arrived, and had in fact gotten sick on the way to her house. At the mother’s house, the father continued to drink, and the last think he remembered was getting sick again and his brother putting him in bed at the mother’s house. The next morning, the father awoke in that same bed with only his shirt on. The father did not remember having sex with the mother, and he did not knowingly and purposely have sex with her.

    The father’s brother testified as to the same facts. A friend of both the mother testified as to the same facts, plus the fact that about two months after the party, the mother said she had sex with the father while he was “passed out” and that it saved her a trip to the sperm bank. Another friend testified that the mother had said she had sex with the father, “and he wasn’t even aware of it.”

    A physician testified that it is possible for a man who is intoxicated to the point of losing consciousness may nevertheless have an erection and ejaculate; they are not conscious, voluntary activities.

    The father argued that because he did not have sex voluntarily with the mother, he was not liable for child support. The court disposed of the argument, comparing it to the arguments made in L. Pamela P. v. Frank S.: the wrongful conduct of the mother in causing conception did not obviate the father’s support obligation. The court also compared the father’s argument to the arguments put forth in the statutory rape cases, concluding that the “rape” of the father could not preclude a finding of liability for support.

    The dissent would have held the father liable for child support, but would have deviated from the presumptive child support guidelines because “the mother’s sexual conduct was reprehensible and is a misdemeanor. Because of the mother’s inappropriate conduct, the trial court should have deviated from the guidelines.” 695 So. 2d at 1191.

    The lesson one can take from Frisard is simple: a man is strictly liable for where his sperm ends up when he voluntarily engages in a sexual act. The lesson one must take from S.F. v. T.M., however, is somewhat troubling: a man is strictly liable for where his sperm ends up even when he unknowingly and involuntarily engages in a sexual act. Instead of comparing the father’s predicament with the mother’s predicament in Division of Child Support Enforcement ex rel. Esther M. v. Mary L., No. 94-33812 (1994.DE.19031), where a mother was relieved of her child support obligation because she was raped, the court imposed a child support obligation because of the fact of paternity. This can only be termed a strict liability theory of sperm.

    Emphasis mine.

    —Myca

  80. 180
    Mandolin says:

    which Amp actually linked in the original post

    Sorry, Myca. It’s been a long time since the original post went up and I’ve been moderating the frequently psychotic comments that show up in this thread for years now.

    Thanks for the information.

  81. 181
    Myca says:

    Sorry, Myca. It’s been a long time since the original post went up and I’ve been moderating the frequently psychotic comments that show up in this thread for years now.

    Oh, totally not a snark. I was commenting on it because when I googled for the info for my first comment, I actually didn’t notice that I was quoting something Ampersand had already linked.

    In any case, the statutory rape bit doesn’t surprise me (though it upsets me) but the second one I posted is really bad. Surprisingly bad. Way worse than I would have expected.

    —Myca

  82. 182
    Robert says:

    Am I remembering correctly that, in Sweden, the government indicates to women who are considering abortions that it will pay for their care if the women decide not to have one?

    I doubt it, because Sweden has single-payer health care and care would be paid for either way, other than nominal co-pays for doctor visits. And your monstrous tax bill, of course.

    Swedish abortion law is that it’s on-demand up to 18 weeks. From 18 to 22 weeks you have to get permission from a national health board (death panel!); if there is a major health concern permission is generally granted, otherwise not. After 22 weeks it’s illegal.

    Sweden IS pretty liberal as far as how late you can get an abortion. It’s 12 weeks in other Euro nations.

  83. 183
    Gigi says:

    I hardly think that $50.00 a week child support is an incentive and the post about the man thinking that by paying any child support directly to the child, school or landlord somehow benifitted the mother because she didnt have to spend as much of her income makes him is a deadbeat parent for thinking that way.

  84. 184
    Tessa says:

    Trapping a man into fatherhood is more common then you think and it’s NOT all about the money. Extorting the money from the men is two fold; of course it helps to support the child, but it also serves as revenge because she knows it is torture for him to pay every week/month. Just the satisfaction that he has to do it is very enjoyable for her. Bringing down his quality of life to support her and hers.

    My son was involved with a women and they moved in together. When he figured out she was not well mentally, he decided to break it off. She asked if she could stay a month longer so she could afford a place of her own. He is kind-hearted and reluctantly agreed. She told him from the beginning that she could not physically concieve children because of a medical issue, come to find out she was taking birth control through the whole relationship (18 months). When he called it quits she stopped taking the birth control and continued to suduce him. She left as soon as she found out she was pregnant. When she called to tell him he said he did not want to be a father and did not want to be a father to her child. She told him she didn’t care what he wanted or didn’t want, she was having it and he would be paying for it. She said if she couldn’t have him she would make his life miserable for as long as she could. The courts agreed with her and they have been making him pay for a child that not even she wanted to begin with.

    My son had to drop out of college to go to work to pay child support. He doesn’t have anything nor will he be able to afford to have anything for the next 15 years because of one womens evil. She has since done this to two other unsuspecting men and she tells people with as much as she recieves from the three men, she will never have to work. The children are moved from relative to relative and have never had a stable home.

    If men were given the same rights as women at the time of conception we could avoid this. Give men the same rights, give them a choice to parent a child of not. If they do not BOTH agree, and the women still insists on the birth, give him the option to sign away his rights and obligations to support. If the women continues against his wishes, let her do it with ALL of the obligations that come with it. Let her take responsibilities for HER decision. That will keep SO many unwanted children from being born to often to sick people like her.

  85. 185
    Robert says:

    Tessa, your story doesn’t make sense even on its own internal logic.

    For one thing, you say your son decided to break things off but she begged for another month to stay so she could save up for her own place. He reluctantly agreed – but continued having sex with her? Then you say that she left once she discovered she was pregnant. Very few people know that they’re pregnant within a one-month time-span. If she got pregnant during that month, she didn’t know about until a month or two later. If she found out that she got pregnant during that month, then it was a conception that had occurred earlier. Either way, the “the relationship was over and she tricked him into impregnating her” theme just doesn’t work. They had a relationship; through that relationship, a child was conceived.

    Then you say the courts “agree with her”. In fact, the courts agree with nobody; the courts think that every child needs to be supported by its parents. They are uninterested in who’s getting on over on whom or who is psycho or who is an innocent college student trapped by cruel “suducers”; they are interested in establishing the support of the child.

    You say your son had to drop out of college so he could make his ordered child-support payments. This seems very unlikely. Child support payments are ordered on the basis of an individual’s income; as a college student, your son would have had payments assigned to him on either the basis of his part-time earnings while in school, or (more likely), on an imputation of full-time minimum wage work. In general a college student is not going to be assigned much of a child support burden – quitting school to take a job is a guaranteed way of getting those support payments raised.

    You say your son won’t have anything nice for 15 years because it all goes to this woman. Again, that seems unlikely. What’s his child support payment? What’s his income? What does he now do for a living? It doesn’t sound like he has any custody time with his child – if he changes that (especially if he takes half custody) then his child support payment will dwindle or even vanish depending on the mother’s income.

    You are right that allowing men and women to sign away their rights and responsibilities would solve the (relatively tiny) problem of men tricked into fatherhood; it would also create a far more massive problem of women tricked into motherhood. (“Of course I’ll take responsibility if you get pregnant, baby!”) It doesn’t seem like a good trade to me.

  86. 186
    mythago says:

    Robert @182: To be fair, that may be the story Tessa’s son is telling her. “I got my girlfriend knocked up and I don’t really want to spend time with the kid but I hafta send her a few bucks for child support” is not exactly designed to play on maternal heartstrings.

  87. 187
    Robert says:

    Fair enough, Mythago.

    It is weird to me to see people complaining about excessive child support payments. In my experience (modest and secondhand to date, but increasingly first-hand and comprehensive) child support payments are fairly assigned and not particularly onerous on any party. It’s spousal support payments that I would expect many MRAs to be outraged by; much spousal support is simply a racket.

  88. 188
    mythago says:

    Robert – I get the sense that a lot of people who aren’t the primary caregiver also don’t have a good sense of how much it costs to raise a child, particularly when that amount is taken out in a lump sump instead of $100 here or $20 there.

  89. 189
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, I don’t have statistics on this, but it’s my impression that courts ordering spousal support, especially long-term spousal support, has become rarer and rarer over the years.

  90. 190
    Schala says:

    Very few people know that they’re pregnant within a one-month time-span. If she got pregnant during that month, she didn’t know about until a month or two later.

    I thought that over-the-counter pregnancy tests could know earlier and earlier nowadays. They never say exactly how early, or how many days after conception, so not having any idea of their reference (like diapers being ‘more absorbent’… more than what?), my guess goes with ‘before the next period’.

    My father had to pay child support to my mother and alimony for her (for 10 years apparently), it represented 50% of his net income (33% of his ‘before-taxes’ income). They dated 5 years, and until separation, their marriage lasted roughly 20 years (a bit short of that).

  91. 191
    Clarence says:

    I find it ironic that Robert thinks he knows what the “courts” think.
    In reality , unless something is spelled out explicitly in statute and is thus a law passed by our elected officials for whatever policy considerations they may have, a family court judge is free to do as his or her prejudices dictate and yes, that sometimes leads to screwings on a massive scale. The system combines almost unlimited power, little review, and is often cloaked in secrecy. That’s there is not MORE abuse is the real miracle.

  92. 192
    KellyK says:

    The last time I used one (within the last year, IIRC) the “early” OTC pregnancy test said it could detect pregnancy as little as 7 days after your missed period. However, I think it’s fairly common to *not* be able to conceive immediately after going off birth control. (Googling “how soon can I get pregnant after going off BC pills” it looks like it varies widely from person to person, but going a couple months without ovulating isn’t uncommon.)

    As far as Tessa’s story, I think that if a guy willingly chooses to have unprotected sex, he’s accepting a certain amount of risk of conceiving a child. Especially in this situation, where he’d chosen to end the relationship because she had mental issues. If they were severe enough to end a relationship over, they should be an indication that he *really* wouldn’t want to get her pregnant.

    Yes, she said she had medical issues that kept her from conceiving, but I don’t think trusting that was a good idea.* Not only because in this case it turned out not to be the case, but because, depending on the specific issues, medical problems conceiving aren’t a guarantee. People with PCOS, for example, often think they can’t get pregnant, and then are able to get pregnant right after going off birth control, or if they take metformin.

    *Assuming that the story is true, that is. Even if it is, an isolated anecdote doesn’t prove that this is common. Also, for this woman, tricking men into fatherhood only benefits her because she is moving the children from relative to relative, rather than actually taking care of them herself. If she were, the three sets of child support payments probably wouldn’t cover it.

  93. 193
    KellyK says:

    If men were given the same rights as women at the time of conception we could avoid this. Give men the same rights, give them a choice to parent a child of not.

    Men have exactly the same rights as women at the time of conception, as Amp has pointed out probably a zillion times. They get to choose whatever birth control methods they want to use on their own bodies, they get to choose whether or not to have sex, and when, and with whom. (If a guy is sexually assaulted by a woman who then gets pregnant, I don’t think he should be responsible for child support, but that’s not a situation we’re talking about here.)

    Biologically, women have different options than men, but that’s not a rights issue. It’s also worth pointing out that those options often tend to suck. (I have the option to take hormones that make me moody and miserable and can cause blood clots. I have the option to go through a gauntlet of protesters (and often legal hurdles) in order to have an expensive and unpleasant surgery. Forgive me if I don’t think this is awesome.)

    A guy shouldn’t get to have all the unprotected sex he wants and then say, “Nope, don’t want a kid. Sucks to be you.” if a pregnancy occurs.

  94. 194
    Schala says:

    A guy shouldn’t get to have all the unprotected sex he wants and then say, “Nope, don’t want a kid. Sucks to be you.” if a pregnancy occurs.

    I guess he should get a vasectomy at 17, just in case. and hope it reverses when he actually does want a kid – and if not, tough luck.

    Besides near-permanent infertility, idiopathic natural infertility (my case, wee) and abstinence, I don’t see what options guys have.

    Thankfully I’m not a guy and can’t even physically penetrate anyone with what I have (even if it was called a penis at birth, and is physically longer externally than what a clitoris could normally attain). So no chance of pregnancy for me or any of my partners (with me anyways), ever.

    Also, places that offer abortion in Canada are not picketed, bombed, or have doctors dead. They’re unbothered by probably everyone, because only a slight slight minority of Harper worshippers even cares about abortion. The rest (of the public) want it legal and will destroy the reputation of anyone advocating for banning it. So, while it could be painful (the procedure), it won’t be humiliating or physically/emotionally hard to reach the actual premise.

  95. Pingback: Why Choice For Men is Wrong | Alas, a Blog

  96. 195
    mythago says:

    Schala, even if that’s true across Canada – and I wonder how true it is of more rural conservative areas like deepest darkest Alberta – it’s not in any way true in the US, plus keep in mind that it’s not publicly funded here.

    Clarence, you do realize that such arbitrariness and unfairness can cut both ways, right? If a family-court judge can do whatever she pleases without review, there’s no reason to think that unfairness will always benefit women.

  97. 196
    Robert says:

    Clarence, you’re quite right that I don’t know what the fictitious collective labeled “the courts” has as its unitary view, which is obviously silly. I used someone else’s conversational shorthand rather than be infinitely pedantic. As cognitively competent adults, we can broadly agree to honor one another’s shorthand without literally believing that the shorthand has totally accurate mapping to reality.

    I’m currently in court, arguing (via attorney) about child support, so I suspect that however inadequate and limited, my experience in the matter at least has the virtue of being freshly and honestly reported. “The judge in my case”, rather than “the courts”, “gives me and my attorney the strong impression”, rather than “thinks”, that the most important question is the welfare of my daughter and ensuring that she gets proper support from all parties to the marriage. The judge does not seem to be unreasonable, to date, in assessing the many complex questions that go into this issue. (The big discussion right now is what my income really is, and what my wife’s income should be imputed to be.)

    Better?

    I agree that the system is imperfect, but in general I think that the flexible discretion of experienced judges is overall going to do a better job, on average, than attempting to prejudge everything by statute. Statutes have no judgment and it is very difficult to make them flexible without making them meaningless. As an example from my case, if the statute says that the non-primary-custodial parent shall pay support based on his lowest average wage in the last X years, then my daughter would get no support order even if next year I make a million, because I had a bad year financially in 2009. If the statute says that the n-p-c parent shall pay based on his best wage, I’ll be out on the street because I don’t usually make my best wage and the support predicated on that figure will be ludicrously high. If the statute says to take an arithmetic mean of incomes, then people will game the system and make sure to throw in a zero year to artificially deflate their average, thus screwing the kids. I trust a judge’s human intelligence, applied to the immediate and accessible facts of the case, more in this instance than I would trust a formal statute, which lacks such access and tries to establish justice predictively. Predictive justice is hard.

    And, what Mythago said about judges who can be unfair in one direction can also be unfair in the other direction. If you really think judges are screwing men (or women) on support orders, well, it isn’t all that hard to elect or unelect a judge in most places. Get Judge Stickittothosecheatinglyingbitches on the bench in your district, or recall Judge Onemanmustpayforthesinsofall if that’s your local issue. Democracy works, kind of.

  98. 197
    Clarence says:

    Mythago:
    I never made that argument, so your response is totally unnecessary , and indeed, an insult to my intelligence.

    Robert:
    Thank you for your measured and polite response.
    I’m skeptical of courts having that kind of unmonitored power in the first place.
    And , as far as I know, judges are sometimes appointed. Not every judge is subject to a ballet, and its really hard to bring a case before a disciplinary board if the board doesn’t deal with family court judges or if you can’t get trial transcripts and etc. due to the secrecy clause.

    I think our modern family law courts are a disaster and that justice sometimes emerges from such places is more an incidental happening than anything one can count on. The good thing is it is based on an unsustainable economic model (as are most of the child support guidelines) and thus will eventually collapse, along with the larger economy. I won’t shed a single tear, it was never just for the children or experts in child care would have set it up , not lawyers, politicians, and private support agencies.

  99. 198
    Charles S says:

    “I think our modern family law courts are …. based on an unsustainable economic model”

    Am I parsing this correctly and correctly assigning “our modern family law courts” as the antecedent to “it” in the second sentence?

    I don’t actually care to know why you think that family law courts are based on an unsustainable economic model, I’m just curious if I am reading that correctly.

  100. 199
    Clarence says:

    Charles S:
    And I don’t care to parse a sentence for someone who doesn’t care what I think. I think pretty much anyone who can put two plus two together to get four can understand why modern family courts are economically unsustainable.