“Choice For Men” Is Another Way Of Saying “Screw Children’s Interests”

I don’t know who created it, but I’ve seen this table going around reddit and tumblr:

Maybe it’s hard to grasp because it’s not true?

First, it’s not “how it is” that if a woman wants an abortion, that means an abortion will happen. I wish it was, but in reality, pro-lifers have worked hard to put barriers (some legal, some practical) between women and abortion. (And that’s limiting discussion to the USA; in some other countries, abortion is outright banned.)

Secondly, it’s not true that “the rights of the child are untouched.” In scenario A, the child has the right to be financially supported by its father. In scenario B, the child does not. (The table doesn’t say whether or not child support is also going to be banned for non-custodial mothers, so I’m not sure if the born child still has the right to the financial support of its mother in the “how it should be” column.)

So what this table’s author is actually calling for is an increase in father’s rights at the expense of children’s rights.

This is particularly troublesome because research shows that child support laws provide an incentive for some men to use birth control. In the absence of any legal right of children for financial support from their fathers, some men will use birth control less (and some will be more likely to insist on “bareback” sex with their girlfriends), and the number of children born to single mothers will increase. (In contrast, there is no evidence that child support laws effect how likely women are to give birth; my guess is that the disadvantages of pregnancy already provide a strong disincentive for women but not men, so the child support effects are larger for men.) How are these children going to be supported, in “how it should be” land?

Third, in the status quo, the laws are equal – or at least, they should be. Both men and women should (in the feminist POV) have an absolute right to do anything they want to their own bodies to maximize their odds of having sex while avoiding reproduction. And both mothers and fathers are legally required to provide support for all their born children. That’s legal equality.

(It’s true that we don’t have biological equality. But that’s a sword that cuts both ways; there are massive advantages for men in being the sex that doesn’t get pregnant, which this table ignores.)

In this table’s proposed system, we also have legal equality, IF mothers are also allowed to opt out of supporting born children. But that legal equality comes at an enormous cost to children and society, because child poverty would be increased. I don’t think that’s a moral solution, unless we’re going to switch to a full-blown Swedish Socialist economy, in which child poverty is substantively solved through expensive government interventions.

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170 Responses to “Choice For Men” Is Another Way Of Saying “Screw Children’s Interests”

  1. 101
    alex says:

    What specific means are C4M advocates proposing so that C4M won’t increase child poverty?

    How hardcore are you guys about biology? There are other ways to assign child support, presumptive paternity, child of the family, marriage to the mother, etc. Do you think a negative dna test should 100% get someone off the hook, and a positive test be the only way to get on it?

    The poverty argument opposes any relaxation of a method of cs establishment. Either we’re trying to get as many people paying for whatever reasons, which seems cynical. Or there is flex, and pushing for biology as important undermines other avenues.

    The evidence is that more child support = less kids born to single moms out of wedlock & etc.

    Hang on, the cites don’t say anything about single motherhood – only out of wedlock births.

  2. 102
    KellyK says:

    2) Bill is a cautious and thoughtful guy who does everything possible to avoid having kids he doesn’t want. Unfortunately for Bill, it doesn’t work. So we collectively act to place those consequences directly on Bill. If he loses his house and much of his money as a result, well, that’s just his fault. Life sucks; he should have remained celibate.

    I think that’s a strawman. Nobody’s arguing that child support payments should be so high that the guy loses his house.

    I tend to think child support should bring the kid up to, or at least close to, the non-custodial parent’s standard of living if it’s higher. You shouldn’t have to live on ramen and share a crappy apartment with six people so your kid can go to private school and have a pony. But the flip side of that is that your kid shouldn’t be going to school in falling-apart hand-me-downs so you can buy a new flat-screen.

    If the custodial parent has a higher income, then child support from the other parent should be proportionally less.

  3. 103
    Mandolin says:

    “But the flip side of that is that your kid shouldn’t be going to school in falling-apart hand-me-downs so you can buy a new flat-screen.”

    Husband grew up in a situation where they always had food, but sometimes it came from the dented can store. His father had a fair bit of money but had no interest in giving any of it to something like making sure his kids could get good dental care. His child support order was unfairly low, which happens sometimes.

    But he still could have voluntarily been like, “hey, what if my kids could eat? or not have amazing cavities later in life?” And he didn’t. Bleah.

  4. 104
    Mandolin says:

    That’s an example of unfair child support, but it’s anecdotal and not meant to prove anything. Just kvetching.

  5. 105
    delurking says:

    A semi-idle question here, but do we have any data on just how many men are in the situation being discussed here — the one where they slept with a woman while wearing a condom, and she got pregnant, and (despite swearing she would abort if this happened) kept the child? And now he’s on the hook for child support, poor guy?

    Because that’s not the situation I see all around me, at my working class university. The one I see all around me is young women and middle-aged women who have been ditched by their husbands. They’ve usually got one or two kids. He’s gone off with another woman. He’s started a second family with that women and doesn’t want to pay child support for his first family because — and no shock here — he can’t support two families, not on a working class job.

    So he stops paying his child support. And feels very aggrieved when she sics the power of the state on him because she can’t feed two kids on what she can make, as a single woman alone.

    He also tended to be a guy who wanted his woman to be a SAHM, by the way. So she’s not qualified to get a better paying job. But that’s an argument for another post.

  6. 106
    Arpa says:

    “He also tended to be a guy who wanted his woman to be a SAHM, by the way. So she’s not qualified to get a better paying job.”

    For a situation that you “see all around you”, it’s extremely specific and those are fairly intimate details to know. You must be intimate friends with lots and lots of people at your working class university.

    As to the SAHM: You do what I did when my parents kicked me out at age 18. Learn, train, build up a good work history. Move up. Don’t get in that lazy situation again. Quit blaming others. Learn to make do with less in the beginning as your “tuition” for learning about life. Does that cover it?

    Oh, as to the first part again: You find what you look for.

  7. 107
    Arpa says:

    Delurking, when you bring up the SAHM thing, you also make it sound like women are just unknowing robots without any semblance of agency. If the guy was the “type” to want a SAHM, the woman just meekly complies, of course, and she had no say in picking him as a husband or the course of her life.

    That’s not the women I know, but I don’t have thousands of very intimate friends, so I guess I can’t extrapolate to an entire society.

  8. 108
    Ampersand says:

    Delurking, when you bring up the SAHM thing, you also make it sound like women are just unknowing robots without any semblance of agency.

    So if we acknowledge that in a marriage, one spouse can often be a major influence on the other spouse’s decisions, that’s the same as saying that the second spouse is a robot with no agency? I think you’re reading meaning into Delurking’s comment that isn’t there.

    You do what I did when my parents kicked me out at age 18.

    Since you objected strongly to Delurking referring to anecdotal experience, why are you using your own anecdotal experience to make a point, literally in the next sentence?

    But since you brought it up: When your parents kicked you out at age 18, how many children were you personally raising and supporting? Because if you weren’t the primary caretaker of at least one or two babies, then your experience (unlike Delurking’s) is completely irrelevant.

  9. 109
    Arpa says:

    “When your parents kicked you out at age 18, how many children were you personally raising and supporting?”

    I normally don’t respond to this personal sh!t, but since you directly called me out:

    When I was age 15, I experienced “every boy’s dream” and slept with my English teacher in high school, who was also married at the time. He was apparently shooting blanks, I wasn’t. She gave birth, she got divorced, she got fired from her teaching job. She is no longer permitted to teach, and she is unemployed.

    My parents are not rich, but they are “well off”. The rest is pre-programmed. My parents were on the hook before, now I’m on the hook.

    If you are going to hit me with how often I see my daughter, she didn’t let on at first – until money became an issue – and the rest is probably none of your business.

    Asked and answered. Any more fucking questions?

  10. 110
    Arpa says:

    And I also know that things have gotten a lot better. A regularly see women in court (on CNN or Drudge Report or wherever) who have slept with male children. They aren’t sentenced like men in the same situation are, but at least they are presented as doing something wrong.

    A 37-year-old female teacher can very easily manipulate a young male teenager under her care.

    The argument is always: He wanted it. Yeah, well, children may also want to try drugs or other things. Mostly: SHE wanted it as well when she initiated sex with the good-looking social studies teacher. And I always hear that girls are more mature than boys at that age. So all of a sudden the boys are the mature seducers with 37-year-old female teachers?

    Hatred of men. Simply hatred of men that is tolerated in today’s society.

  11. 111
    delurking says:

    I’m sorry you were raped at 15, Arpa. That’s what it was, as you must know. Your parents ought to have had your teacher put in jail. I don’t know anyone who would say that a 15 year old who was raped by a 37 year old must have wanted it. That should not have happened to you.

    On the other hand, what that has to do with my students, who sit crying in my office because they have to decide between buying gas to get to work and buying antibiotics for their kids strep throats, I can’t imagine.

    And — since you asked — I have been a professor for 26 years. At this point, the number of women I have known in the situation I have described must range into the thousands. The number of guys I have known in your situation (counting you) is three. You’re the first I have heard of who is paying child support, I will add.

    I have never known any guy who slept with a woman while he was using a condom, who had specifically had an arrangement with that woman that if she got pregnant she would get an abortion, who then had that woman get pregnant and refuse to get an abortion.

    I have never even heard of that situation except as a hypothetical one on MRA blogs and such. And this is my point.

  12. 112
    Ampersand says:

    Arpa, I’m sincerely sorry you were raped as a boy. Your teacher was an asshole rapist, and what happened to you should never happen to anyone. For what it’s worth – and I suspect it’s not worth much – at least one judge does take female-on-male teacher rape seriously.

    Regarding child support, of course it was wrong that you have to pay child support. As I’ve said in the past, rape victims should be an exception to the child support rules.

    That said, I still think many of your arguments are flawed and illogical.

    In post number 106, you called SAHM’s situations “lazy,” and implied that you, Arpa, are a much better person than SAHM’s who need child support after a divorce, because you started supporting yourself at age 18. That was all extraordinarily illogical. From what you’re saying, you were NOT a primary caretaker when you had to support yourself. So when you used your own experience to disdain and attack SAHMs who receive child support, you were comparing apples and oranges.

    Second of all, if you don’t want your personal experiences to be part of the discussion – which is completely reasonable – then the solution is for you to not bring up your personal experiences. But what you seem to want to do is bring up your personal experiences to try and prove that SAHM’s are sucky people, as you did in comment 106, and then take umbrage when I reply to the example that you yourself chose to bring into the conversation. That’s not logical or fair.

    Third, it’s hypocritical of you to complain that other comment-writers are using anecdotal arguments, when you’re also using anecdotal arguments.

  13. 113
    Arpa says:

    Usually I don’t want to bring my personal experiences or anecdotes into this.

    I had a real flash of anger at the assumptions flying around here (for instance that an 18-year-old may not also have responsibility). I noticed that Robert also had a flash of anger above (kind of like: no citation required for anyone going through it) with his own description of his divorce.

    I don’t think you’re a phony chivalrous twat like Hugo Schwyzer, Ampersand, but I don’t know what drives you to only see women’s side of things and to actively make negative assumptions about men as a habit. Yeah, I know, you don’t know what I’m babbling about.

    Telling personal anecdotes is definitely not the way to go, and I’ve got to put a real damper on it.

  14. 114
    Arpa says:

    As long as we’re on the topic again of SAHMs getting left by their husbands (ostensibly because the husband wants a younger model, not for the possibly real reason that he can no longer put up with the nagging and bitching), would all of you people railing against that also crank down on a woman who wants to leave a man?

    No.

    And a man should also be able to leave a woman, maybe even without gossipy negative assumptions about him. He should pay child support, but he should not be paying lifetime alimony to a woman, at most bridge alimony so she can get back out into the real world of work.

  15. 115
    Arpa says:

    And I have no idea why men get married, but they are still lining up for it in droves.

  16. 116
    Ampersand says:

    he can no longer put up with the nagging and bitching… And I have no idea why men get married, but they are still lining up for it in droves.

    I’m sorry, Arpa, but I don’t think your hackneyed misogynistic comments are helping the discussion here. For that reason, I’m going to ask you not to post on “Alas” anymore. Best wishes to you.

  17. 117
    mythago says:

    gin-and-whiskey @93: Actually, I think I am referring to what JutGory actually and plainly said. If JutGory has supported whatever your system is, then perhaps you could clarify for me why JutGory actually said what is, in your view, “exactly the opposite”, and why you believe I should pretend JutGory really meant to agree with your counterproposal?

    Even if you weren’t a lawyer who understands quite well what the Last Clear Chance doctrine is, JutGory kindly spelled it out in @35: it is a doctrine where all of the blame and responsibility falls on the person who had the “last clear chance” to avoid the situation. (Contributory negligence, remember, not comparative.) So, yes, under JutGory’s proposal, the man who is a bad actor has zero responsibility, because no matter what he did, she’s the one who could have had an abortion and therefore, 100% responsible for the outcome.

    Now, you say you are proposing a different, “safe harbor” model. That’s fine, although hugely impractical. (How does the man prove he used birth control and swore he didn’t want a child? Doesn’t this punish men who can’t afford to pay for an abortion, even if the pregnant woman is well-off?) It’s also still asymmetrical; the woman can change her mind, he can’t.

    More to the point, y’all are repeatedly ignoring the fact that as to both men and women, the legal default is: We don’t give a rat’s ass whether you CHOSE to become a parent; if you have a born child, you are responsible for that child. You’re pretending this is only true of men, as if a woman who didn’t mean to get pregnant, was raped, was the victim of reproductive abuse, or who was financially or physically denied access to abortion, is allowed a Get Out Of Responsibility To Your Child card. The only difference is that because the woman is pregnant, she has, to some degree, the right to control her body by terminating the pregnancy. (Again, as a lawyer, g&w, I am sure you are aware of the very well-known case in which a woman who had created IVF embryos with her then-husband sued to be allowed to implant one and become a mother; the courts held she couldn’t.)

    Now, it is true that there are exceptions to this default. Some states wisely sever all legal bonds between a rapist and a child conceived of the act of rape; the survivor doesn’t have to allow the rapist to raise the child, and doesn’t pay child support, and is free, if he or she wishes, to give up the child for adoption without the rapist’s permission. Some states, mostly for the purpose of catering to would-be adoptive couples, require an unmarried father to assert interest in a pregnancy pretty early on or he loses all parental rights. But, again, there is no “C4W” when it comes to a born child.

  18. 118
    mythago says:

    DougS @100: I accidentally back my car into yours and do some pretty serious damage. I didn’t mean to, but a bee flew in the window and distracted me. I don’t think I should have to pay for any of that damage because it was totally an accident. So Amp and I sign a contract that says he lets me off the hook for any damage to your car. Sorry about that! But see, I agreed with somebody else that my obligations to you are null and void. Now maybe you can go sue Amp instead for that money – although I gotta warn you, as a cartoonist I doubt you’ll actually be able to get enough money to have your car repaired. But the important thing is, I didn’t want to mess up your car, so I should be able to agree with somebody else that I don’t have to pay for it.

    That’s pretty much what you’re proposing here. As has been noted over and over again, whoever the payee is on the child support check – because we don’t generally just hand money to kids, as anyone who has had the horror of preparing a minor’s compromise knows – the legal and financial obligation is to the child. The other parent doesn’t have the right to dissolve that obligation, any more than Amp can handwave my obligation to pay for your damaged car.

  19. 119
    JutGory says:

    Mythago @117:

    If JutGory has supported whatever your system is, then perhaps you could clarify for me why JutGory actually said what is, in your view, “exactly the opposite”, and why you believe I should pretend JutGory really meant to agree with your counterproposal?

    The lack of clarity is, perhaps, my fault. I think the biological inequality between men and women requires, in the interest of fairness, some sort of legal remedy. That remedy could take any number of different forms. I have proposed at least one, but there are others. g&w has proposed a different one. Of course, my proposal is far superior to his :P, but I think the “remedy” he proposed is an improvement on the current system.

    -Jut

  20. 120
    Copyleft says:

    Thought experiment: Sperm theft. Not saying it ever really happens, or COULD happen… just consider it as a thought experiment.

    A woman obtains sperm from a man without his consent, impregnates herself, carries it to term, and gives birth. The man’s responsiblity for this child? Zero, by any sane measure. And yet, I see people here arguing that “it doesn’t matter whether you had any say in the matter, your choice is irrelevant, what matters is that the child deserves two-party support, so pay up.”

    Why not just acknowledge that this situation IS unjust, but you simply don’t care that it is, because to you the child’s welfare trumps any other consideration?

  21. 121
    Ampersand says:

    Thought experiment: Sperm theft. Not saying it ever really happens, or COULD happen.

    Well, there’s 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). Not sure if that’s exactly the sort of thing you had in mind, but if not it’s very close.

    And yet, I see people here arguing that “it doesn’t matter whether you had any say in the matter, your choice is irrelevant, what matters is that the child deserves two-party support, so pay up.”

    This argument seems like a strawman to me. Specifically who here is saying that, Copyleft? Please use specific quotes to back up your claim.

    Just in the last handful of comments, both Mythago and I have said that rape victims should not be made to pay child support, so we’re certainly not saying “it doesn’t matter whether you had any say in the matter, your choice is irrelevant.”

  22. 122
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Copyleft – who are you talking to here? Most people in this thread who posted against the CFM view have made it clear that we are talking about cases of consensual sex between adults, and that different rules may apply in special cases. “Sperm theft” is, in my opinion, such a special case. It’s also extremely rare. The only reason to bring it up is to turn our view into a ridiculous strawman, moreso in this case since it’s been specifically excluded.

    In cases of sperm theft, rape, and other circumstances in which a man has not consented to sex and still manages to impregnate a woman (which also includes anonymous sperm donation, by the way), I believe the onus for child support should fall on the state, and thereby split between all taxpayers. This protects the rights of the child while allowing for the exceptional nature of the circumstances. I don’t have any statistics, but I assume the amount of cases that fall into these categories is a small enough percentage that they cannot and should not be the basis for a general policy.

  23. 123
    Eytan Zweig says:

    When I say “moreso in this case since it’s been specifically excluded.” I wasn’t being very clear – I meant to say “moreso in this discussion where we have been careful to allow for exceptions”

  24. 124
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Now, you say you are proposing a different, “safe harbor” model. That’s fine, although hugely impractical. (How does the man prove he used birth control and swore he didn’t want a child? Doesn’t this punish men who can’t afford to pay for an abortion, even if the pregnant woman is well-off?)

    It’s entirely possible. Hell, make it legal and pass the appropriate laws, and there will probably be an Iphone app that combines video, funds transfer, and fingerprint reading, within six months.

    There are a gazillion ways you could do it, each with a set of pros and cons. If you thought it was a good idea and were trying to figure out how to implement it, then I’d be happy to discuss those in detail.

    It’s also still asymmetrical; the woman can change her mind, he can’t.

    This sounds like concern trolling: given that you are arguing AGAINST a CFM perspective, I don’t see why it would bother you that things are not 100% equal and that they still favor the woman somewhat. But yes: biology.

    More to the point, y’all are repeatedly ignoring the fact that as to both men and women, the legal default is: We don’t give a rat’s ass whether you CHOSE to become a parent; if you have a born child, you are responsible for that child.

    I’m not ignoring it. I’m saying that it’s a bad idea, and that your perspective should stop.

    You’re pretending this is only true of men, as if a woman who didn’t mean to get pregnant, was raped, was the victim of reproductive abuse, or who was financially or physically denied access to abortion, is allowed a Get Out Of Responsibility To Your Child card.

    I have no idea where you are getting this drivel. We’re discussing CFM, so I’m discussing CFM. The fact that I haven’t side tracked a CFM argument into an issue of general abortion rights is a good thing, not a liability. You know damn well that I wholly support access to BC and abortion; I’m not “pretending” anything.

    The only difference is that because the woman is pregnant, she has, to some degree, the right to control her body by terminating the pregnancy.

    that’s one difference, sure. Since I’m an “abort to the moment of delivery” kind of person, I’m not sure “some degree” is right.

    But, again, there is no “C4W” when it comes to a born child.

    Is this how you normally argue?

    “We should change the law!”
    “But what you propose is not legal.”
    “Yes, I know, that’s why we need to change the law!”
    “But what you propose is not legal.”
    [repeat]

    Yes. I KNOW that there is no CFW. There is no CFM. So what?

    I see no reason why there couldn’t be, under the same theory as before. The idea of my CFM proposal is based on a contract. If a father wants to guarantee that he will solely support a child without contribution for the mother, and if the mother agrees, I see absolutely no reason why that wouldn’t be possible.

    And of course, women would retain the absolute right to abort and get BC, which would be helped

  25. 125
    KellyK says:

    I have no idea where you are getting this drivel. We’re discussing CFM, so I’m discussing CFM. The fact that I haven’t side tracked a CFM argument into an issue of general abortion rights is a good thing, not a liability. You know damn well that I wholly support access to BC and abortion; I’m not “pretending” anything.

    But abortion rights *aren’t* unlimited in the US currently, nor is BC universally accessible, and that affects how any kind of CFM would play out in real life. Are you saying you would support CFM (your version) right now, with access to abortion being patchy and iffy, or that your proposal is contingent on women having the actual ability to get an abortion? I asked before, way back in comment #32 and you didn’t answer, what happens if she wants an abortion but can’t get one.

    Yes. I KNOW that there is no CFW. There is no CFM. So what?

    So, CFM without CFW isn’t fair. That’s kind of the point, that you’re arguing that what you’re proposing makes things more fair. I’ll give you that in some cases it does, but in others, it would make things worse. Instead of shared responsibility for a situation neither of them wanted, in the case where she’s unable to obtain an abortion, now she’s stuck with sole responsibility.

  26. 126
    KellyK says:

    DougS @100: I accidentally back my car into yours and do some pretty serious damage. I didn’t mean to, but a bee flew in the window and distracted me. I don’t think I should have to pay for any of that damage because it was totally an accident. So Amp and I sign a contract that says he lets me off the hook for any damage to your car. [snip]

    That’s pretty much what you’re proposing here. As has been noted over and over again, whoever the payee is on the child support check – because we don’t generally just hand money to kids, as anyone who has had the horror of preparing a minor’s compromise knows – the legal and financial obligation is to the child. The other parent doesn’t have the right to dissolve that obligation, any more than Amp can handwave my obligation to pay for your damaged car.

    I don’t think the example quite works, because a parent *can* make all sorts of legal decisions on behalf of their child. It’s not an agreement with a random third party to make an obligation null and void—it’s an agreement with the person who would most likely be making decisions for that third party.

    From what I know about child support (limited and third-hand, so please correct me if I’m wrong), a parent *can’t* waive their right to child support. They can choose how actively they want to pursue it, but there’s no way to say, “No, it’s okay, I’ve got little Billy covered,” and have that have legal weight.

    So the idea of opting out is complicated, because if a parent can’t opt out of receiving support for an already born child, it seems very contradictory to allow them to opt out for a potential child. (Which doesn’t have any bearing on whether that would be a good idea or a bad idea–I think there might be a few limited cases where it’d be a good thing, but mostly not. Just that that’s the status quo that C4M would be placed into.)

  27. 127
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kelly, I can see why my position might be unclear.

    After all, there’s only comment #4:

    gin-and-whiskey says:
    …The only position which is even potentially viable would address the very limited # of situations where a woman makes a promise to abort and then changes her mind AFTER she is pregnant, IOW:…5) Available of free abortion/adoption services (or abortion/adoption services to be paid for by the man;) and

    and comment #12:

    …Oddly enough, both the rational CFM folks and the abortion activists share an interest in more widely available, cheap/free, safe, abortions. The irony is that the more available/cheap/free/safe they GET, the more reasonable it is to assign them as rational choices.

    …and comment #91

    AND provide incentives for folks to work towards beneficial goals like “available BC and “available abortion clinics;”

    …and comment #96

    2) Adding incentives to promote, provide, and pay for abortion and BC, so the potential number of jointly-unwanted pregnancies goes down, further reducing problems;…
    … I am an extremist with regard to abortion rights (which should be unlimited until birth, IMO) and am one of the more pro-civil-rights people on this blog;

    (d) my plan is specifically designed to enhance communication, enhance availability of abortion for those who don’t want kids, and enhance BC use in general.

    Given my lack of commentary on the issue, it makes perfect sense to wonder whether I’m actually trying to increase abortion availability, or just stick it to the women.

    I asked before, way back in comment #32 and you didn’t answer, what happens if she wants an abortion but can’t get one.

    I answered before you asked. You just didn’t read it.

  28. 128
    alex says:

    From what I know about child support (limited and third-hand, so please correct me if I’m wrong), a parent *can’t* waive their right to child support.

    Yes they can. They can simply not claim or frustrate a claim, which can’t be contested by third parties (so it isn’t a ‘right’). Or they can void it entirely if they establish a conclusive presumption of paternity with someone else.

    I’d be much more sympathetic with the anti-C4M crowd, if they genuinely took biology seriously, or weren’t pretending the law is something it isn’t.

  29. 129
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Sometimes the state can subrogate a claim for child support if the parent fails to adequately provide for the child and if the state is therefore forced to provide instead. However, the state rarely does so. That’s largely because the state doesn’t try very hard to monitor the status of kids, which has both good and bad consequences.

    I’d be much more sympathetic with the anti-C4M crowd, if they genuinely took biology seriously, or weren’t pretending the law is something it isn’t.

    Although I clearly disagree with plenty of folks here, I think that both of these assertions are completely inaccurate.

  30. 130
    JutGory says:

    g&w:

    Sometimes the state can subrogate a claim for child support if the parent fails to adequately provide for the child and if the state is therefore forced to provide instead. However, the state rarely does so.

    Really? The feds have set up an incentive payment system (“TANF,” I believe) that gives money to states to help them recover money from NCP for public assistance paid to CP.

    I had a case where the CP and NCP got divorced in Illinois, both then moved here, CP filed a false child support claim (NCP had paid up or was slightly behind-not the amount CP claimed), CP went on public assitance, assigned the support claim to the County to recoup her Public Assistance.

    NCP did not receive notice of the filing and it became final after 20(?) days. County started garnishing NCP’s wages. NCP and CP eventually resolved the dispute when it became clear that CP’s claim was vastly overstated, but we had one hell of a time getting the County to stop garnishing the paycheck. The County did not want to give up one penny…because they get money from the feds as an incentive.

    I am surprised your state is so lazy, when there is “free” money to be had.

    If the feds had a similar incentive system when it came to enforcing child visitation orders, you would undoubtedly see the unmitigated wrath of the state come down on CPs the way it does on NCPs.

    -Jut

  31. 131
    mythago says:

    @JutGory: well, as you know, contributory negligence went away for very good reasons. Not only was it an extremely harsh doctrine, but it allowed wrongdoers to shift all blame for their actions, which of course had the side effect of discouraging responsible behavior. Your “Last Clear Chance” proposal is even more draconian because it isn’t limited to negligent conduct; it protects reckless, malicious and even deliberate behavior. Which, of course, would remove a great deal of incentive for men to take any responsibility for their sexual behavior. Who cares if you slipped off the condom, or had sex with your girlfriend while she was sleeping, or pinholed her diaphragm? Last Clear Chance, baby.

    @gin-and-whiskey: I thought that ‘pound on the table’ aphorism from law school was a joke, but you act as though it’s a practice tip. YMMV, I guess.

    The whole point of calling these proposals “Choice for Men” is the belief that women get a choice in becoming parents, and men don’t, so we need to change the law so that both get an equal choice. Hence the formerly-popular term ‘paper abortion’.

    Problem is, C4M actually misinterprets the law, and so its solution – based on this misinterpretation – doesn’t balance the scales. It weights them in favor of men. And so, yes, when you snap “So what?!” when this is pointed out to you, it does in fact create the impression that you are not so much interested in balancing the law to insure both men and women are treated fairly.

    (Of course, in a discussion where everyone up to and including Amp is fixated on thought experiments and a single case of sperm theft, and completely avoids talking about reproductive abuse of women and how C4M would affect that, I guess I should quit shouting into the wind.)

    The ‘safe harbor’ you suggest is unworkable. Not unworkable in the sense of being imperfect, but in the sense of being completely broken in the real world. Throwing a fit and saying “well YOU fix it” in response ignores the fact that, hey, it was your idea.

    Here’s a simple fix that doesn’t require he-said-she-said Family Law Attorney Full Employment Act fights about who used birth control: Unmarried men have neither rights nor responsibilities towards their biological children, full stop. A man never need worry about exercising “C4M” or making up his mind because he can never be on the hook in the first place. Women have no incentive to trick or abuse men into fatherhood, and can make decisions about abortion, adoption or keeping the child without the input of someone who might change his mind and exercise his “C4M” twelve hours before the end of her first trimester.

  32. 132
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Problem is, C4M actually misinterprets the law, and so its solution – based on this misinterpretation – doesn’t balance the scales. It weights them in favor of men.

    Let me get this straight. I am arguing for, among other things,
    1) available BC
    2) available abortion–free would be better
    3) pre-sex contracting, to avoid miscommunication;
    4) use of specific BC by the man

    in exchange for which I am suggesting an extraordinarily minimal safe harbor. And even that safe harbor itself is limited, since I’m willing to concede some bottom-level degree of emergency support in certain situations.

    A woman under that plan retains the right to have sex or not, use BC or not, have an abortion or not, seek to give the kid up for adoption or not, and so on. In fact, in the limited # of CFM scenarios which I have proposed she would have far BETTER choices that she does now, because she would know the situation before she had sex AND she would have to have access to abortion services, for free. not to mention that all she has to do is say “No, I won’t commit myself to abort, adopt, or raise the kid alone.” To use the “enthusiastic consent” standard, this is “enthusiastic procreation.”

    that’s worth repeating: Because the plan is based on contract and because the default is “child support, this plan literally gives women the ability to entirely foreclose the “safe harbor” merely by refusing to contract around it.

    And so, yes, when you snap “So what?!” when this is pointed out to you, it does in fact create the impression that you are not so much interested in balancing the law to insure both men and women are treated fairly.

    I…. I don’t know what to say which won’t get Amp on my case for being rude.

    Your position is so utterly lacking of nuance that it’s very hard to respond accurately. Either you are completely misreading me, or you are deliberately presenting my position as a straw man–which is what I’m beginning to believe given your obvious abilities–or your concept of what is “fair” arises from a perspective in which ANY degradation of women’s position, irrespective of the tradeoffs or benefits, is unacceptable. In which case it’s you, not me, who is trying to screw over a single gender.

  33. 133
    JutGory says:

    Mythago:

    Your “Last Clear Chance” proposal is even more draconian because it isn’t limited to negligent conduct

    Hold on a minute. I am not sure if it is MY Last Clear Chance proposal. I simply brought that up, along with assumption of risk and superseding and intervening causes (which you have not addressed, which is fine (you don’t have to), except you keep fixating on LCC (which I believe I identified at the outset as antiquated and replaced by more modern doctrines)) merely to illustrate that the notion of C4M is not completely without some support from legitimate legal theories.

    But, my personal anecdote on LCC. The week after I took the Bar, I went in for jury duty. Simple car accident case. I got picked for the jury (there must have been far scarier people in the pool than me). Got picked as the foreperson. As we were trying to assign fault, I brought up LCC (not as legal doctrine, mind you, just as a way to decide whom was more at fault and the percentages of negligence). Long story short: my argument persuaded no one. So, I went home and burned my copy of the Restatement of Torts.

    -Jut

  34. 134
    alex says:

    I don’t think any C4M advocates would oppose C4W. I mean we already have de facto C4W via safehaven laws and adoption practice anyway. Going back to the old unmarried men have no rights rule is a genuinely good idea though.

    Of course, in a discussion where everyone … completely avoids talking about reproductive abuse of women and how C4M would affect that, I guess I should quit shouting into the wind

    How would if affect abuse of women? I mean, first off that shouldn’t matter because CHILD SUPPORT IS FOR THE CHILD dontcha know, not a tool in the domestic violence prevention armory. Well, it is in reality a tool for moving money from men to women, but it’s rarely justified like that. Anyway, if the worst comes to the worst and a guy C4Ms you, what happen? You’re no worse off that if he got hit by a bus, or jailed, or ran off to join the french foreign legion. It’s hardly a catastrophe, if your willingness to be a parent is conditional on your SO hanging about and bringing in the cash then abortion is the right option C4M or not.

  35. 135
    Gomez says:

    There’s a small but nonzero possibility that reincarnation exists and that Mythago will come back in the next go-round as a man.

    It’s interesting to think in general, though, of what effects the following would have on philosphy: Every night, your consciousness is switched with someone elses. You now think you’re that person for the day, with all of the good and bad that has gone before for him or her, only your consciousness is now in that body.

    Would it change your philosophy any? Would it change your philosophy if you had more direct experience of being in someone else’s shoes?

  36. 136
    Ampersand says:

    There’s a small but nonzero possibility that reincarnation exists and that Mythago will come back in the next go-round as a man.

    Yes, but since many of the people here opposing C4M are male, it doesn’t seem logical to assume that this possibility would change Mythago’s opinion. I’d bet that most men in the USA, if we could do a poll, would oppose C4M. Most men don’t WANT to cut and run on their own children, and they want other parents to be responsible for their own children, too.

    It’s interesting to think in general, though, of what effects the following would have on philosphy: Every night, your consciousness is switched with someone elses. You now think you’re that person for the day, with all of the good and bad that has gone before for him or her, only your consciousness is now in that body.

    Would it change your philosophy any? Would it change your philosophy if you had more direct experience of being in someone else’s shoes?

    Well, if I’m completely unaware of my consciousness doing this every day, then I don’t see how it would. In fact, I don’t think I’d have any constant philosophy at all; my philosophy would change every day to that of the person whose life I’m inhabiting.

    But what if I am aware of it? If every night my consciousness moved to a new body, I think that might encourage me to neglect long-term planning and caring about consequences, in favor of a “what the hell, worst case scenario I’ll be someone else by tonight” devil-may-care approach. For instance, I might call in sick to work every day, and eat dinner every evening at an expensive restaurant, and have sex whenever I can without regard for the next day’s consequences for the marriage of the person whose body I’m in.

    Of course, sometimes I’d wind up in a body that’s having a miserable experience – a body that’s in chronic pain, for instance, or enslaved. However, no matter how bad it is, I’d only have to survive being miserable for a day, and then I get out of that situation. It would be like a really miserable one-day flu; you just suffer through the day because you have no choice.

    If it weren’t just me – if everyone in the world were switching consciousness every day – then I think that would bring on enormous pressure to have new, internet-and-password forms of identity as our predominate identities, rather than body-based identities being predominate. It would also bring a great deal of pressure on the world’s governments to either become a single world government, or to stop being based on geographic boundaries.

    I think it would also enormously alter marriage and romance as we currently experience it, since physical attraction to a particular body could no longer be any basis at all for relationships that last over a day.

    That said, are you familiar with John Rawl’s “original position“? It’s a sort of similar thought experiment to what you’re proposing.

  37. 137
    Ampersand says:

    Alex:

    How would if affect abuse of women?

    It would make the particular form of abuse that Mythago brings up – men acting in abusive ways in order to purposely cause pregnancy – happen more frequently, because men would no longer be responsible for the consequences of their actions. (Assuming a “strong” form of C4M).

    Child support is for the child, as you say. But – as many people have pointed out – it’s also a method of reducing unfairness to custodial parents, by mandating that noncustodial parents take some responsibility (albeit far less than custodial parents). And it’s also a method of reducing the burden on society, by reducing the number of children who are in poverty and need government welfare (as I’ve pointed out many times).

    The “we only consider consequences to the child and not to any other party” position you’re attributing to us is a strawman. It is, in fact, more applicable to your position, which is concerned about consequences to fathers, but completely indifferent to harms caused to either children or mothers.

    Yes they can. They can simply not claim or frustrate a claim, which can’t be contested by third parties (so it isn’t a ‘right’). Or they can void it entirely if they establish a conclusive presumption of paternity with someone else.

    You’re mistaken. Any time a single parent needs welfare, the state – which is a third party – can go after the non-custodial parent, regardless of what the custodial parent wants. Nor is it always possible to “establish a conclusive presumption of paternity with someone else.”

    I’d be much more sympathetic with the anti-C4M crowd, if they genuinely took biology seriously, or weren’t pretending the law is something it isn’t.

    Nonsense. Your attitude on this blog has been one of consistent sneering for everyone who disagrees with you, barely concealed by a thin screen of civility. There’s no reason to think that would change, so your claim here lacks credibility.

    (Incidentally, if you’d prefer not to be banned, then you should improve your tone. You’re smart and sometimes bring up interesting points, so I’ve been letting it ride and hoping you’d improve. But you’ve had 111 comments approved since you got here, and your comment-writing has not improved yet.)

    As for biology, that’s a strawman you’ve been beating, not a genuine argument made by folks who oppose C4M. For example, I’ve said over and over that in a regime without serious child poverty (e.g., Swedish Socialism), I could support C4M, a view that is inconsistent with a nothing-but-biology-matters position.

  38. 138
    mythago says:

    gin-and-whiskey: Look, when you want to address what I’ve actually said, instead of this “you are a bad person and you don’t agree with me because you have sinister motives” nonsense, I’m around.

    Gomez: And? Equally, by your argument, there is a small but nonzero chance that men here advocating for C4M will be reincarnated as women.

    JutGory: I want to make sure I understood what you said correctly. You were selected for a jury after having sworn to render a verdict according the law on which the Court instructed you, and instead of doing so, you brought up a legal doctrine which was not part of the applicable law, packaged as ‘this isn’t legal doctrine, mind you, just like guidance, see’ and suggested that your fellow jurors rely on it to reach a decision?

    In @35, you did not ‘simply bring that up’, but ruefully announced that you found yourself on the same ‘side’ as Copyleft and offered three legal analogies which you believe supported his theories. Last Clear Chance was one of these, and is deeply flawed for the reasons I’ve already stated. As to the others, “assumption of risk” makes no sense because you artificially cut off the ‘risk’ as sex, rather than pregnancy, which is really a nullification of the principle. (The whole point of ‘assumption of risk’ is that if activity X bears a known risk of consequence Y, then if I engage in activity X I am presume to have ‘assumed the risk’ that Y could happen, and can’t complain if it does.) Superseding/intervening cause is likewise silly, because the decision of the mother is not a “cause” of the birth; being pregnant is.

  39. 139
    Gomez says:

    Mythago: “Gomez: And? Equally, by your argument, there is a small but nonzero chance that men here advocating for C4M will be reincarnated as women.”

    Sure, but my point is that if you have to experience both genders, what would you view as fair. I wouldn’t have a problem with C4M. Women can still abort, use safe haven laws, adopt out, or get a job.

    I made the original comment because your views seem to solely be to promote the woman’s side without regard to the men’s side. Maybe those views would change if you also had to look out at the world through men’s eyes.

    Ampersand: I don’t know if most men would really oppose C4M in their own thoughts. But let’s say they do. The problem is male chivalry towards women. There is no equivalent the other way around, so that leads to the known imbalances in family court and in life (a non-feminist female judge is usually the best a man can get in family court, an older male judge the worst in terms of fairness). Lots of men will gladly throw a man under the bus to get some attention from women.

    I’ve noticed that there is some kind of interplay between male chivalry and modern-day feminism. You would think that feminism would be opposed to chivalry, but they both work together quite well.

  40. 140
    mythago says:

    @Gomez: Please don’t assume that because you enjoy an adult-level version of boys-against-girls, that everybody else does. C4M isn’t an issue about women “winning” over men.

  41. 141
    Gomez says:

    Please don’t assume that because you enjoy an adult-level version of boys-against-girls, that everybody else does.

    Pure insult, no response required. You are presenting yourself. I have no idea why Ampersand let’s you constantly do that, but bans others for it, but it’s his board. Why don’t you just discuss things?

    C4M isn’t an issue about women “winning” over men.

    Right, I view it as an issue of fairness. Cut away the chivalry, cut away the advocating for your own “team”, and then what is fair.

  42. 142
    Gomez says:

    I thought I got the HTML right in the last post, but apparently not. Didn’t mean to bold the response to Mythago, among other things.

    [Fixed. --Amp]

  43. 143
    Ampersand says:

    Gomez:

    Ampersand: I don’t know if most men would really oppose C4M in their own thoughts. But let’s say they do. The problem is male chivalry towards women. [...] Lots of men will gladly throw a man under the bus to get some attention from women.

    Or maybe we just think C4M is unfair and illogical.

  44. 144
    Ampersand says:

    Gomez:

    Women can still abort, use safe haven laws, adopt out, or get a job.

    I really like how Myca put this earlier:

    1) Both parents have the right to do whatever they like (legally) to their own bodies in order to avoid having a child.

    2) Neither parent has the right to do stuff to the other parent’s body to either compel or prevent the birth of a child.

    3) Both parents are responsible for the care of any actually born child.

    4) Neither parent has the right to unilaterally refuse to provide for an actually born child.

    You mentioned abortion. Contrary to what you seem to think, in many cases, abortion is pragmatically not available. But if abortion was as available as it should be, then it would be the case that “both parents have the right to do whatever they like (legally) to their own bodies in order to avoid having a child.” That is legal equality.

    Safe haven laws are sex-neutral; either parent has a right to make use of them. It’s true that pragmatically women use them more often than men (although they’re really barely ever used at all by either sex), but that’s because men have the physical ability to depart during a pregnancy, and women don’t. By C4M logic, if C4M advocates were consistent, that means men have an “extra right” that women lack.

    Adoption laws are sex-neutral.

    Finally, noncustodial parents are also (by and large) capable of getting a job.

  45. 145
    mythago says:

    @Gomez, your claims that the reason I dislike the C4M proposals is that I can’t possibly imagine a man’s point of view, and/or that I am simply advocating for the female “team” at the expense of men are, in fact, pure insult. Aren’t you glad Amp has a high tolerance for that sort of thing?

    By all means, we need a system that is fair. C4M is not that system.

  46. 146
    mythago says:

    Amp, I think it’s also important to be clear about what ‘safe haven laws’ are, because C4M advocates seem to treat them as a magical insta-adoption procedure. All safe-haven laws do is assure parents that, if they leave a newborn at certain specified locations (such as a firehouse or hospital), that doing so is not grounds to prosecute them for abuse an abandonment.

  47. 147
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Gomez – as a man opposing C4M, “chivalry towards women” is not my concern at all. My main concern is protecting children. The whole “men vs. women” aspect of this argument is a red herring in my view.

    You want to disagree with me, feel free. But please don’t outright dismiss my motivations – that I have explicitly stated in this thread more than once – and decide you know what I’m thinking better than I do.

  48. 148
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Gomez – also, to follow your logic, you should accept my claim that I care about children’s rights because (and you may not have been aware of this), even though I am a man now, I used to be a child once. So I have all the necessary biographical credentials to emphasize with children’s needs.

  49. 149
    Gomez says:

    Eytan Zweig,

    I was responding towards Ampersand’s statement that “I’d bet that most men in the USA, if we could do a poll, would oppose C4M.”

    I wanted to bring up the aspect of chivalry with regard to that, apart from the issue of whether his statement is true or not and with regard to which version of C4M, and have no reason to doubt that you personally are only thinking of the children if you say so.

    I DO have reason to doubt a male judge who says that he is only doing things in the interests of the children, however, when he does not issue a support order to a non-custodial woman or does not enforce a small order that is issued. Lots of that stuff floating around in family court, google e.g. “imputed income” for some examples.

  50. 150
    mythago says:

    Since we are talking about C4M, rather than custody orders, Gomez, why are you dragging in “judges who don’t enforce child support equally” as if it were a) something anyone here supports or b) relevant?

  51. 151
    Gomez says:

    Because it’s an example of chivalry, Mythago, which figures in to points made above. I’m trying to answer assertions that are being made by others, not to start my own topic.

  52. Gomez,

    I have to wonder what precisely you mean when you use the word “chivalry” because I am having a I-don’t-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means experience while I read through your comments.

  53. 153
    Grace Annam says:

    I am reminded of a poem by Alice Duer Miller:

    Chivalry

    It’s treating a woman politely
    As long as she isn’t a fright:
    It’s guarding the girls who act rightly,
    If you can be judge of what’s right;
    It’s being—not just, but so pleasant;
    It’s tipping while wages are low;
    It’s making a beautiful present,
    And failing to pay what you owe.

    I look at Chivalry from both sides, now, from win and lose, and still, somehow, it’s Chivalry’s illusions I recall. We really don’t know Chivalry at all. (with apologies to Ms. Mitchell.)

    Grace

    [edited because grammar. -Grace]

  54. 154
    Gomez says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman: If you know what I mean, why don’t you argue the point and not my choice of terminology?

    Grace Annam: On the old MS Magazine message boards, they would start posting recipes if they couldn’t address a question/topic. I see there has been progress on that front.

    But in general, yeah, I see the “gravity game” coming. LOL

  55. 155
    Gomez says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman: When you say “… because I am having a I-don’t-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means …”

    don’t you mean

    “… because I am having an I-don’t-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means …”

    ?

    It’s difficult to understand and address your main point with the grammatical problems.

  56. 156
    Ampersand says:

    Gomez, please start making policy-based arguments that are on topic (as Grace’s poem was on topic), or please vacate the conversation. Thanks.

  57. Gomez,

    I was not trying to be snarky, and since tone can be so notoriously difficult to read in comments like these, I will assume the tone and pettiness of your response was a result of you hearing in my words something I did not intend.

    If I knew what you meant by chivalry, I would not have asked, and I meant what I said quite sincerely. As I read your comments, I kept thinking that the word means something other than what you think it does, or at least what you intend it to mean in this context. And since I was not sure precisely what you meant, I did not think it would be fair to respond to what you were saying.

  58. 158
    Grace Annam says:

    Gomez:

    On the old MS Magazine message boards, they would start posting recipes if they couldn’t address a question/topic. I see there has been progress on that front.

    You start your participation in this thread with a hypothetical about how reincarnation might change people’s views, and then you suggest that it’s a problem when you think someone else isn’t addressing the topic.

    I’m not sure what to make of that, but it strikes me as inconsistent.

    You then move on to chivalry, in a manner which would seem to indicate that you think it’s a problem:

    The problem is male chivalry towards women.

    and

    You would think that feminism would be opposed to chivalry, but they both work together quite well.

    …but then, when I reference a lighthearted indictment of chivalry, written by an avowed feminist, and equally lightheartedly reference my own varied life experience vis á vis chivalry, you insult me by comparing my contribution to failed conversation at a feminist magazine which anti-feminists have a history of loving to pillory.

    Then you say,

    I’m trying to answer assertions that are being made by others, not to start my own topic.

    Even though the topic heretofore has been C4M, and you have tried to bring in reincarnation, chivalry and biased judges.

    That all seems inconsistent, to me.

    Then Richard says that he does not understand what you mean by chivalry (and I agree with him that it is not at all clear what you mean by it), and rather than contribute to the conversation by clarifying what you are trying to say, you suggest that he respond to what he thinks you mean, rather than what you actually did mean, which he has already said is unclear to him. What possible good could be served by Richard responding to a meaning you didn’t intend?

    It’s … almost like you’re not bothering to consider what people say, and don’t want to contribute light to the discussion, and are simply amusing yourself at the expense of the other contributors here.

    Grace

  59. 159
    Grace Annam says:

    Gomez:

    Sure, but my point is that if you have to experience both genders, what would you view as fair.

    I have a question in response to that, but I’m going to preface it carefully.

    Preface: A common popular perception is that trans people are one gender and then become the other gender (note the assumption that there are only two). Many trans people, some of them thoughtful writers, use that framework. However, many trans people (including me) find it more accurate in describing our own experience to say that we were always one gender, and that transition was mainly a matter of correcting misperceptions. But even the latter sort of trans people (at least that subset which has transitioned) almost all have life experience being treated as “both” genders, and interacting at different points in their life as though they were “both” genders.

    So, here is my question: Gomez, given the deference you seem to want to show (at least on the current topic) to people who have experienced both genders, does this mean that you would accept as definitive the viewpoint of a majority of polled trans people?

    Grace

  60. 160
    JutGory says:

    [Amp.: This is not a de-rail; I promise I will bring it back on-topic.]

    Mythago @138:

    JutGory: I want to make sure I understood what you said correctly. You were selected for a jury after having sworn to render a verdict according the law on which the Court instructed you, and instead of doing so, you brought up a legal doctrine which was not part of the applicable law, packaged as ‘this isn’t legal doctrine, mind you, just like guidance, see’ and suggested that your fellow jurors rely on it to reach a decision?

    Mythago, you are wrong on most points. The case was a car-pedestrian accident. Court instructed on negligence, contributory negligence and said, if both parties are negligent, you have to assign a percentage of fault to each. No instruction given on how to assign percentages; you just have to do it. If both sides are negligent, how do you get off the 50%-50% responsibility?

    You deliberate; you make arguments; you analogize; you tell stories that you hope will clarify the issues or provide some insight on the facts in front of you. So, citing my dad, who is by no means a legal authority, I posited that the driver is more at fault, as compared to the pedestrian, because “you are responsible for what happens when you are behind the wheel.” But, I said something like, “if you look at it from who was in the best position to avoid the accident, the pedestrian had the last opportunity to avoid the accident and is, therefore, more at fault.”

    (I made no reference to any sort of “legal doctrine.” That would have been unethical. I simply employed the rationale of the doctrine because, apart from the harsh results of the doctrine itself, the rationale is certainly useful in trying to analyze who is more at fault. In theory, it is useful; in practice, it-well-it was abandoned for a reason: comparitive fault is much more fair than the “all-or-nothing” approach of which LCC was a part.)

    But, that sort of approach (either LCC or comparitive fault) is completely absent in this discussion. If you looked at liability for child support through a lens of negligence (because, often (not always), negligence is a factor), many here are saying that fault is always 50-50 and there is strict liability for support. But, if support were assigned from a “comparitive fault” perspective, the mother would have greater liability under an LCC-type of analysis (and you could look at BC use as g&w suggested (even though g&w’s theory is more contractual in nature)), intentional acts, mitigating circumstances, and other things that bear upon a comparison of fault or responsibility).

    But, we do not look at it from the stand-point of comparitive fault (or comparitive responsibility, if you will). Why not? The amount of support is the same; it is only a matter of the contribution required from each party.

    -Jut

  61. 161
    Doug S. says:

    Mythago @100: I don’t think the analogy holds. For one, people transfer the financial burden of future car accidents all the time; it’s called buying insurance, although companies that sell car insurance usually aren’t broke. Second, it’s not clear what the financial obligations of a parent actually are. In the case of a car accident, your obligation is clear: it’s equal to what it takes to restore the damaged property. On the other hand, there’s no law against living more frugally than you need to, and a child’s living standards have to get pretty drastic before they reach the point where The System is supposed to step in and intervene – unless a non-custodial parent is involved, in which case things get complicated and depend on comparisons with intact families that have a similar income level. So… why put a special income tax on non-custodial, never-married parents? Is it because we want to punish never-married fathers for their recklessness in creating a child they wouldn’t have chosen to support voluntarily? And why should a never-married father’s income affect the amount of money it takes to meet a child’s basic needs?

    (I’m using “never-married” here because a marriage is a legal contract and, in theory, by agreeing to marriage, one also agrees to abide by a divorce court’s judgement in case of divorce.)

    Also, I agree that this most definitely would be an increase in fathers’ rights at the expense of children’s rights. Policy debates should not appear one-sided. Social Security, as implemented, increases retirees’ rights at the expense of the rights of current workers, but it’s generally considered to be a worthwhile tradeoff. As a practical matter, the U.S. government does a pretty bad job at keeping people out of poverty; if you believe in revealed preferences, people just don’t actually care about distant strangers living in poverty. (Especially when the poor children don’t actually live in the United States.)

  62. 162
    mythago says:

    JutGory @160, I’m glad that I was misreading you.

    That aside; why look at this through ‘the lens of negligence’, and particularly, through the lens of an outdated form of negligence? You are transforming parental responsibility towards children – something I hope we aren’t arguing should be discarded wholesale – into a wrongful act by at least one if not two people, and making it a zero-sum game. You’re also subsuming reckless and malicious conduct under this analogy (reproductive abuse, an intentional act, is analyzed here exactly as if it were unintentional but negligent conduct). You ask “why not”, but a better question is why – particularly as we don’t even use contributory negligence as the model for actual torts anymore.

    Doug S @161: The insurance company still has to agree to contract with you; an infant isn’t a party to the agreement to sign away one parent’s rights.

    As for why the income of both parents (not merely the non-custodial parent) matters: Because we can’t have it both ways. You’ve seen that several people have complained about child support impoverishing the non-custodial parent, and about laws that have ‘imputed income’ and fail to take such things as unemployment into account. If the law says that children require $X in support and parental income is irrelevant to that figure, well, that’s going to be a little tough on the parent for whom $X is half or more of their take-home pay, and it’s going to seem especially punitive if the parent receiving support is well-off.

    This is not just an expansion of fathers’ rights at the expense of children’s rights. It is fundamentally dishonest, because it uses the claim that it is simply creating equality (“choice for men”), when it is actually destroying a fundamental set of rights and obligations for men only, keeping those rights and obligations intact for women and at the expense of children. Certainly, policy debates should not be one-sided. But the fact that policies may advantage one group over the other does not mean, that, therefore, we should ignore unfairness or disadvantage because that’s just how it is.

  63. 163
    mythago says:

    Editing fail. The paragraph should read

    when it is actually destroying a fundamental set of rights and obligations for men only, keeping those rights and obligations intact for women and at the expense of children

    [Fixed! --Amp]

  64. 164
    Doug S. says:

    This is getting to be silly nitpicking, but it’s the person who crashed the car (you, in this case) who has the contract with the insurance company (Amp), not the person whose property was damaged in the crash (me).

    If the law says that children require $X in support and parental income is irrelevant to that figure, well, that’s going to be a little tough on the parent for whom $X is half or more of their take-home pay, and it’s going to seem especially punitive if the parent receiving support is well-off.

    That’s why, if the custodial parent doesn’t have the $X it takes to raise a child in a reasonable manner, and the non-custodial, never-married parent can’t or won’t help, the $X in child support ought to come from general tax revenues. (And if we’re talking about “opt out” contracts, “won’t” would require the custodial parent’s written consent anyway.)

    This is not just an expansion of fathers’ rights at the expense of children’s rights. It is fundamentally dishonest, because it uses the claim that it is simply creating equality (“choice for men”), when it is actually destroying a fundamental set of rights and obligations for men only, keeping those rights and obligations intact for women and at the expense of children.

    I don’t see why a woman couldn’t be the one to benefit from an opt out contract if the father-to-be is willing to accept sole custody and sole financial responsibility for the child; this is similar to the surrogacy arrangements some jurisdictions already allow. There would certainly be ways to implement “choice for men” that would indeed serve as little more than a big “screw you” to women and children, but pre-conception opt-out contracts that both potential parents-to-be have to sign don’t seem like one of them.

    Anyway, we’re already well into “and a pony” land anyway and nothing I say here could possibly have any impact on actual law, so I might as well tap out of the discussion.

  65. 165
    alex says:

    Ampersand @ 137.

    As for biology, that’s a strawman you’ve been beating, not a genuine argument made by folks who oppose C4M.

    Ampersand @ 144.

    I really like how Myca put this earlier:

    1) Both parents have the right to do whatever they like (legally) to their own bodies in order to avoid having a child.

    2) Neither parent has the right to do stuff to the other parent’s body to either compel or prevent the birth of a child.

    3) Both parents are responsible for the care of any actually born child.

    4) Neither parent has the right to unilaterally refuse to provide for an actually born child.

  66. 166
    Ampersand says:

    Alex, can you please spell out why you think what you posted refutes my statement?

    I’m not saying that biology is entirely irrelevant to my argument; I am saying that I’m not arguing that biology is the ONLY thing that matters. For instance, nothing in the four points you quoted prevents parents from providing for a born child by arranging for it to be adopted by new, non-blood-related parents.

  67. 167
    mythago says:

    Doug S. @164, certainly you needn’t stay in a discussion if you don’t want to, but having made points before ‘tapping out’, I hope you don’t mind that I am responding to them.

    Indeed we can get nitpicky with the car insurance analogy, but the issue is really that parental obligations and rights – which include, but don’t end at, child support – are not a contract between the two biological parents, akin to my agreeing to buy a used car from you.

    Re tax revenues, can’t or won’t help? So we’re now going from taxpayer support of indigent children to taxpayer support of any child whose parents don’t feel like paying out of their own pockets, as long as the parents aren’t married? I think you can probably see all the problems and gamesmanship there.

    We do have “pre-conception opt-out” agreements in extremely limited circumstances – gamete donation and surrogacy (in some states). As you know, these were originally rules designed to allow married heterosexual couples to have as close to their own biological children as realistically possible without disrupting the presumptions of parenthood within marriage.

    As far as a big ‘screw you’ to women and children, the get-out-of-parenthood-free card proposed by C4M is one offered to men only. “Well, they can get abortions” is not an equivalent to C4M for women (who do not suddenly get the right to walk away from a child if, for example, they can’t get an abortion, or are victims of reproductive abuse). C4M in the real world is also going to be difficult, if not impossible, to implement in ways that do not impact or destroy women’s ability to terminate a pregnancy, and a system such as that proposed by g&w where we have to litigate who used what birth control is unworkable.

    I do find it interesting how hard it is to get C4M advocates to consider an ‘opt-in’ rule, even a soft one (that allows an unmarried father to ‘opt in’ to legal parenthood) rather than a hard one (that completely bars unmarried fathers from rights and obligations). Sure, it would be a sad situation for unmarried men who do want to be fathers, but it would also prevent a host of ills that C4M is intended to prevent, from sperm theft to unwanted child support.

  68. 168
    alex says:

    Seems odd to approvingly cite such a strong pro-biology position, so soon after suggesting I invented “bio-parents are responsible for their kids” as a strawman. That sentiment has been all over this thread from the start.

  69. 169
    Ampersand says:

    Alex, we’ve been saying “parents are responsible for their kids,” not “bio-parents are responsible for their kids.”

    There are a bunch of situations in which a child’s “parents” might not be their bio-parents, such as adoption, or sperm or egg donor situations, and I doubt a single one of the people arguing against C4M on this thread would disagree with that.. Nonetheless, those non-bio parents are still responsible for providing for their children. For example, if Chris and Sam mutually adopt a child, and then Chris and Sam split up and Sam becomes a non-custodial parent, Sam would still be responsible for contributing to the child’s support.

    I honestly have no idea what your argument is, or what it is you’re saying – because you’re really not making your arguments at all clear. For instance, when you say “I’d be much more sympathetic with the anti-C4M crowd, if they genuinely took biology seriously,” what does that mean? Are you accusing us of taking “such a strong pro-biology position,” as you claim in your most recent comment, or are accusing us of not taking biology seriously, as you claimed earlier?

    What differentiates a “strong” from a “weak” biology position, precisely? What would taking biology seriously consist of, specifically?

    Either spell out your position in a way that makes sense, or stop wasting my time, please.

  70. 170
    alex says:

    How am I wasting your time. I never asked you to accuse me of strawmanning without bothering to understand my argument. I would have preferred it if you’d kept quiet.