Father’s rights is an area that looks to get some attention this upcoming legislative session. A proposed bill giving the courts guidance in determining custody is to be considered this session. These types of bills usually inflame passions, so it’s important to look at the bill not only for what it says, but also for the good that it can do.
To begin with, this bill, like any bill dealing with custody, has some thorny technical difficulties that will need to be handled on a case by case basis. A bill like this is why it’s important to elect conservative judges who have shown good sense in determining what’s in the best interest of the child. Simply pointing out the problems and using that as a reason to not pass the bill is a recipe to never make needed improvements in the law regarding custody.
A second area to be considered is what will the unintended consequences of the bill be? Just like medication, a bill has the intended effects and has unintended side effects. In this case, the side effects of the bill could be very helpful in promoting the pro-life cause in the future. The state’s current policy is that life is protected in the womb for all activities except abortion. Taking steps to protect father’s rights, as a principle of law, opens the door to expand the rights to protect life.
Since the topic of father’s rights is being broached one other consideration, not covered by the bill, needs to be addressed. Although rare, some women end up with several baby daddies and collect much more child support than is needed to maintain the standard of living for the children. I DO NOT advocate for cutting the amount of child support due in these scenarios. Rather, the courts should be directed to make a judgment on the amount of child support needed to maintain the standard of living necessary for the children in a situation where the mother has custody of children from more than one father.
The amount of custody due by the fathers is kept the same, but any amounts due over the determination for the standard of living would go into a trust account for the children. When the child reaches the age of majority the trust funds can be used to pay for college or trade school. This will help to ensure that the children are able to receive education that would otherwise be difficult to come by in their situation. Additionally, if the father runs into a rough patch and begins accumulating arrearages the child does not suffer as the trust fund can be used to supplement the amount tendered to the mother. The arrearage would still accumulate, but it would accumulate to the trust fund thereby offering an additional layer of protection to the children.
The legislature does not meet often so there’s only a small window of opportunity to make changes for the better. As such, it’s important to squeeze the most good out of any bills that arise. This bill is a good example of a bill that does good on it’s face, and also lays the foundation for future good. Hopefully this bill clears committee and gets a vote.
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