In 1999, hip-hop feminist scholar Joan Morgan penned the groundbreaking book, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost. In it, she touched on a few expert opinions on the current state of child support enforcement in this country and what could possibly be done to improve the way we negotiate our parenting responsibilities. Take a look.
Sonny Burmeister, president of the Chidlren’s Rights Council of Georgia, and Mary Frances Berry, author of The Politics of Parenthood, are both advocates of enforced joint physical custody between unmarried parents. “A court decree,” states Berry, “should require not just child-support payments, but burden sharing or shifting to take care f the children in order to impress upon both parties the seriousness of their obligation. Neither fathers nor mothers should be able to walk away without some pressure being brought to bear.” Ideally, she suggests, parents should have “shared custody.” In cases where this is not possible, the non-custodial parent “should also be required to help the other with chores that drain custodial parents of time and energy, such as baby-sitting, transportation to doctor’s appointments and other child-care services or to school.”
Burmeister, however, believes that under a system of join custody, no one should pay child support: “Why would you need a transfer of money,” he asks, “if you each have the child for fifteen days?” And Stephney agrees. “It shouldn’t even be a question of finance. There should be immediate joint custody. And the state shuold have no input unless there is total disagreement between two parties.”
Before sistas dismiss these ideas as the mere foolishness of men too cheapt to do right by their chiildren, we might want to face the bleak statistical realities of “mandatory” child support. Unless your baby’s father is paid as hell, your chances of collecting any money worth talking about are very slim. [According to journalist Ellis Cose], “A Congressional Research Service calculated that in 1991 states netted $384 million from [The Child Support Enforcement] program, while the federal government lost $588 million. The program, in short, cost $204 million more to run than it managed to bring in.”