I've read through these posts, and some of it is good info and some of it makes me laugh out loud.
First, for those who have been saying there is NO double-standard, you should understand first what a double-standard means:
: a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another
In this case, what is being described is, without a doubt, a double standard. Someone stated that each person has a chance to back out (man at intercourse and woman at developed fetus). Well, that is a different standard, and I think we can all agree that one provides a substantially different set of options than the other.
For those comments about 2 sides to every story...I agree. I'll try to stick to an open perspective here, but I'm sure my daughter's mother would see some things differently. However, facts are still facts.
I'd also like to explain my own situation, and possibly get a few comments that could help. My daughter was born 7.5 years ago. I was first informed about 3 months into the pregnancy via email...which stated she wanted nothing to do with me and "nothing from me". I tried contacting her after that but she moved. The next time I heard from the mother was when I was served papers for child support enforcement. The mother was on state assistance, and the state wanted money. The mother had a choice whether to list me or not, and she chose to list me (so much for not wanting me involved I guess). I took the paternity test and she is my daughter. I made the necessary arrangements for child support and was able to get 2 visits with my daughter when she was around 6 months old (which doesn't really offer much since they don't really interact much). The 2 visits were a total of 2 hours.
I continued making payments, but because the state of Missouri does not handle visitation through Family Services, I was at the whim of the mother. If she wanted me to see my daughter, I could...if she didn't, I couldn't. My only fix for this was to file with the court to have a visitation order put in place. While this seems to be logical, it's also very expensive...even more so because I no longer lived in Missouri, and local attorneys wanted outrageous retainers to ensure payment of their fees (since I was out of state). I tried filing myself 11 different times. They were all rejected or ignored by the court for numerous and ridiculous reasons.
I was able to see my daughter 3 times during the summer she turned 3. I saw her in May for her birthday, then June when I paid for her and her mother to come to the grand opening of my first business (I had to pay all expenses including food, hotel, gas, etc. or the mother said she wouldn't come), and then in July for an Independence Day festival. Since that time, the mother has not allowed me to see her, and refuses to set up a visitation schedule for us to submit to the court.
The mother has, on numerous occasions, requested my child support be changed (increased). When I closed my first business and had limited income, I requested it be reduced...and to my shock, they raised it by just over 50%! They took 2 separate "potential" incomes that were completely mutually exclusive (I couldn't possibly earn them both...it had to be one or the other), and my support rose dramatically.
I wanted something very basic...visitation with my daughter. My request was visitation every other weekend and extended time in the summers (we are 3 states apart and 1 evening a week doesn't make sense...but I wanted that time compiled for more time in the summer). I agreed to meet her half way for pick up and drop off as well. She, on the other hand, refused. Originally, she said she would only do it if I paid all her expenses to get to the pickup/dropoff point. I originally refused. Later, I agreed to this, and she decided at that point to remove herself from the discussion.
At that point I decided not to pay child support. I had been paying for years, thousands of dollars (mostly based on inaccurate calculations), and yet I still had only seen my daughter a total of 5 different times. I wasn't a deadbeat. I wasn't ignoring my daughter. I wanted to see her, tried numerous ways to see her...and I had been paying.
Fast-forward to today (which is why I'm on here in the first place). I'm $18,000 in arrears. I'm currently unemployed, looking for work, and heading back to school for a joint Masters/PhD. I still haven't seen my daughter, and her mother won't discuss anything.
At this point, I'd like to give up my parental "rights" (as if I really have any other than to pay her support) and end the child support payments. I know in Missouri that a custodial parent can eliminate arrears owed to them (a simple form does that), but I'm at a point in my life that I just don't see anything getting better with regard to this. I've never had a connection with my daughter. I don't think I ever will be allowed to (until she is 18 or at least old enough to understand what is going on). The financial burden is extraordinary...and for what exactly? I still don't get to see my daughter.
My question for this forum is the following:
Can 2 consenting parents terminate the father's rights and remove the child support obligation in the state of Missouri?
I'd like to say that while there are many deadbeat fathers out there (and some deadbeat mothers...some with custody of children even), not all fathers who don't pay support are deadbeats. Some have tremendous financial obligations and the courts do not work in the non-custodial parents favor. Others have tried playing by the rules and keep getting screwed...so they give up (me). I absolutely could make a child support payment tomorrow (from my savings), but to what end?
The idea that Family Support Divisions ONLY deal with support issues is ridiculous to me. If you have a divorce, the visitation is structured generally at that time. However, in cases where the parents were never married there needs to be something set up to establish visitation. In Missouri, there isn't.
Finally, with regard to the overall concept of having kids, abortion, support, etc. When 2 adults consent to have sex, they are making a choice together. It's not 1 adult making a choice for them both (or as some have put it the man impregnating the woman)...it's both adults consenting. They are both able to make THAT choice.
Once the child has been conceived, you have a whole new set of choices to be made, and this is where the double-standard really is emphasized. The father can be completely left out of the choices. A mother can abort the child...even if the father wants the child. The mother can keep the child...even if the father wants to abort the child. The father has no rights at all at this point.
I'm not saying the father should be able to walk-away from the situation. I do think child support should be addressed, but so should visitation, and other issues (and it's always funny to hear Family Services talk about "best interest of the child" when a father isn't even allowed to see the child). Child support should not be based on incomes. Child support should be a set amount based on where a person lives and the cost of living in that location. It's the only fair way to do it.
Example (while exaggerated, similar situations happen regularly):
A father lives in New York City, and has a decent job making $100,000 a year, but living in NYC, he also has substantial expenses. If he had the same job in Missouri (for instance), he would only make about $30,000 a year, and his expenses would be less. The mother, living in BFE Missouri, has a basic job making $27,000, but her expenses are very low because of where she lives. When calculating support based on incomes, there is $127,000 of income total, and the father would have to pay a substantial amount in support. The support would likely be enough to pay all the rent, utilities, and possibly a car payment for the mother (and if the mother decided to quit her job, she would get a bit more, and likely not have to work at all...and still be fine).
If child support were based on location rather than income, a simple basic amount would be determined, and parents would simply split the amount based on the amount of time the child is with each parent. For instance, you could take the cost of living in BFE Missouri (very minimal) and create a calculation and then a set amount for support. Regardless of how much the father makes, the support is set to PROVIDE for the child.
I'd love to get some feedback on my post...and I'm sorry it got to be so long. :)