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AIBU that not paying child support / turning up for visits is child abuse!

(68 Posts)
raspberryroop Fri 26-Aug-11 07:52:09

After reading so many sad stories on MN I'm coming to the conclusion that we need a shift in thinking that not paying child support and not turning up for visitation should be thought of by society as child abuse. It needs to become socially unacceptable the same way that drink driving was once ok and is now not. Even more cat among the pigeons think maybe visitation and ''parental responsiblity' should be lined to financial support. I could be wrong but it feels wrong to me that a child can virtually starve but the non paying parent still has ''rights''

mousymouse Fri 26-Aug-11 07:55:53

yanbu!

Andrewofgg Fri 26-Aug-11 08:00:09

No, it's bad but it's not child abuse.

As for linking contact and maintenance: please. Contact is the child's right and as someone said on another thread, children are not pay-per-view. If father loses his job and cannot pay should he stop seeing his DCs?

Not turning up as agreed is unfair to the child and the mother and if it happens repeatedly is a good reason to revisit contact arrangements.

It really is wrong to call either not paying or not showing up "child abuse" - when you compare it with what people have done who have been convicted of real child abuse you will see why. It is devaluing the language and trivialising the abomination of the real thing.

Huffythetantrumslayer Fri 26-Aug-11 08:03:08

What andrewofgg said.

MoominsAreScary Fri 26-Aug-11 08:03:27

It may not be child abuse but not turning up is extremely damaging for the child when it happens alot

Animation Fri 26-Aug-11 08:05:21

"Not turning up as agreed is unfair to the child"

That's a bit of an understatement!

Unfair?

ProfessionallyOffendedGoblin Fri 26-Aug-11 08:06:35

Another consideration is the number of mothers who then move with their children and a new partner. If not turning up for visits is child abuse, it could be used to force parents who are ex partners to stay within reasonable travelling distance of each other. The child's needs prioritised over that of either parent.
I agree that the system is far from ideal, either in financing or in access, and that both should be rights for the child.
There has also been another thread questioning access to children by a partner who has been abusive to the partner but never to the children, so if access is essential, that is another consideration.

Scaevola Fri 26-Aug-11 08:08:15

YABU: child abuse is beating, broken bones, stubbing out cigarettes, starvation, filth and excrement, sexual assault and total absence of interaction. It still happens.

Espousing DC's policy of stigmatising absent parents is fine, but usurping the language of a far more serious set of problems is unhelpful.

Animation Fri 26-Aug-11 08:08:40

Well it's definately child 'neglect' at the very least.

Thumbwitch Fri 26-Aug-11 08:12:49

I'd go with neglect rather than abuse as well.
Not caring about your child's welfare, either in financial terms or just being a presence in the child's life, is neglectful of them. But it's not abusive unless the child is in perilous conditions - and the resident parent would have to take some responsibility for that as well as the NRP.

PGTip Fri 26-Aug-11 08:14:39

Yanbu, however it should also be child abuse to stop the nrp from seeing their dc out of spite.

sunshineandbooks Fri 26-Aug-11 08:23:41

It's neglect (which is considered a lesser form of child abuse in law).

Failing to provide for your child's material needs is neglect. If I, as a resident parent, did that SS would quickly step in. If non-resident parents are keen to be taken as seriously as the resident parent in terms of their value to the child then they need to take the responsibilities as seriously as the rights.

There are few people who have genuine reasons for non-payment of maintenance. Even those on benefits are considered able to pay a nominal amount of £5 per week.

There are 2.5 million single parents in the UK. 1.15 million of them use the CSA to settle maintenance. Of that 1.15 million, 861,700 of them pay. Of the 861,700 that are paying nearly half (47.3%) are only paying £5 per week (regardless of how many children they have) because they are on benefits. Of the remaining 1.35 million single parent families, 60% have no maintenance arrangements according to the DWP.

Are all these non-maintenance payers starving? Or is it more likely that many of them simply don't want to?

I have no patience with the "why should I pay when she won't let me see the kids" argument. How is punishing the child going to help? Because that's what happens when you with-hold maintenance. Rent, council tax, utilities, food still have to be paid for. If there is no maintenance there is a reduced amount available to cover these things, meaning at best that the child will have to go without luxuries/trips/activities, and at worst that they are losing out on clothing and food. Some RPs love this, of course, because they see it as depriving the RP of luxuries and they can then swan in and buy DC expensive presents that the RP cannot afford because she is too busy spending her money on essential things like food.

The child has a right to contact. How is repeatedly failing to turn up/altering dates at the last minute anything to do with what's best for the child? It isn't. It teaches the child that they don't matter that much. It's cruel. At least with a completely absent father there is no raising of hopes and expectations which are then truly crushed, time after time after time. A resident parent can be imprisoned for unfairly blocking contact. There are no such consequences for non-resident parents who consistently mess about with or miss contact altogether.

Contact and maintenance are not linked but payment is a good indication of whether a person is a fit parent. Unless you can PROVE that your income is so low as to make ANY payment impossible, what possible justification is there? If there isn't one then you are clearly not someone who can put a child's best interests before your own, and in that case is contact actually that desirable?

There was a link on here a while back to a govt. sponsored report about reasons why contact breaks down. While I would never deny that there are some RPs out there who use contact to punish the other spouse, the main thing that came out is that very few parents stop contact out of spouse. Concerns about quality of care and messing about of contact schedules were overwhelmingly the main reasons cited.

Yet despite that, we're still demonising single mothers and making it harder for them to get maintenance by charging to use the CSA and taxing the proceeds.

EricNorthmansMistressOfPotions Fri 26-Aug-11 08:44:39

There should be a change in thinking, but saying something 'should be child abuse' doesn't make it abuse. Abuse is defined as actions which do, or are likely to, cause significant harm to a child.

hester Fri 26-Aug-11 08:51:54

I agree it is neglect, and should be taken a lot more seriously. I'm astonished at how our society tolerates and excuses men who completely abandon their children.

Does anybody know of any really good research into this? Because I am baffled as to what goes on in the heads of men who easily could see their children and don't want to. I'm aware that it isn't always that simple, that there are men who try desperately to sustain contact, are repeatedly blocked, and give up in exhausted despair. But there are also men - like my father - who just can't be arsed. My mum tried desperately for years to get my dad to show some interest in their three children. He turned up barely once a year, never paid child support, never sent birthday or christmas cards. He used to walk past the end of our road every Sunday, on his way to visit his sister.

I just don't get how completely uninterested he was. And I'd love to read something which could give me some insight into it.

bubblesincoffee Fri 26-Aug-11 09:02:49

I think it would be fair to say that not turning up for visits is a form of emotional abuse and not paying is neglect.

However, the two should not be linked because it is a childs right to see a parent if they can enjoy spending time with them, whether or not they pay maintenenance is between the parents.

Animation Fri 26-Aug-11 09:05:58

Bubblesincoffee - yes, I agree it's a form of emotional abuse.

Thumbwitch Fri 26-Aug-11 09:06:55

hester, that is very sad. I agree it would be nice to know what goes on in those parents' heads, same as it would be useful to know what goes on in the heads of parents who kill their DC to "spite" the other parent. WTF is that all about? It's like seeing children as chattels, rather than your own flesh and blood; bargaining chips rather than children.

They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; but some men can be right vengegul bastards and don't care who gets hurt in the fallout, so long as they can severely wound their ex, including their children (note: I know some women will do this too but in general more men than women follow this route).

Don't know why they're like this. Sheer selfishness, maybe? Only think about themselves and their feelings, no one else's?

alphabetti Fri 26-Aug-11 10:04:18

Not turning up to see your children is emotional abuse, especially if you have told them you will come and see them.

My ex repeatedly begs to speak to kids on phone and promises them he will see them on a certain day but hardly ever keeps that commitment, leaving me to console sobbing childen. Last time he saw them was in June and I only receive £5 a week between 2 of them. What exactly am I expected to do with that? Feeding, clothing them and keeping them in a warm house costs me the majority of my income yet he isn't made to pay for them, leaving me and kids suffer more than we should. It really is unfair and shouldn't be allowed to happen.

I grew up with a father who didn't see us and I always knew it was because he didn't love us enough and just couldn't be bothered. I try to shield my children from feeling the same but they still hurt immensly when he refuses to see them. My son was a complete daddys boy and only recently I was called from a holiday club they were at to come and comfort my son who sobbing his heart out that his daddy hadn't came to see him on his birthday. That is emotional abuse. i don't think anyone in this country would ever tackle the problem of non resident parents not paying or maintaining contact though as it would be too big an issue to deal with, but I would love to see changes.

Newbabynewmum Fri 26-Aug-11 10:15:56

I wouldn't go quite as far as you tbh.

But it is bloody unfair. I've just discovered this morning that my EX paid me nothing in July & underpaid me (which was late) in august.

Yet he is taking me to court because he's so heartbroken he has to see DD at a contact centre (abuse, violence & narcotics in the past).

IMO it should be linked - if he can't be arsed to pay and doesn't want any part in her financial upbringing why does he get a part in her emotional upbringing? If he cared so much he'd want to pay for her clothes, food etc, not watch me struggle.

gaaagh Fri 26-Aug-11 10:19:07

"Does anybody know of any really good research into this? Because I am baffled as to what goes on in the heads of men who easily could see their children and don't want to. I'm aware that it isn't always that simple, that there are men who try desperately to sustain contact, are repeatedly blocked, and give up in exhausted despair. But there are also men - like my father - who just can't be arsed. My mum tried desperately for years to get my dad to show some interest in their three children. He turned up barely once a year, never paid child support, never sent birthday or christmas cards. He used to walk past the end of our road every Sunday, on his way to visit his sister."

"I just don't get how completely uninterested he was. And I'd love to read something which could give me some insight into it."

I've always assumed that deadbeat dads (to the point you mention above e.g. walking past his children's road, no barriers to a visit like an angry ex-wife or financial difficulties) just weren't that interested in becoming fathers in the first place.

Or else they were too immature when the children arrived and there were few barriers stopping them from wondering off when they felt like it - if they appeared to look forward to children it was probably a brief flick of the attention span which fizzled out when the nights of teething and shitty nappy cleanup work reared its head. They either got bored, or found the reality didn't reflect what they thought it would be like.

Actually, I always thought it was a mix of 4 things really:

1. They weren't fussed about having children in the first place, but a shag's a shag to them

2. Less of an impact if they did have children (on the body, on their career, judgement from society)

3. Immature attention spans or a lack of understanding about the reality of raising children.

4. Fewer ties to the children when it comes to being able to leave them (a breastfeeding mother has a harder time detaching herself and abandoning the brood, a father often has greater financial independance to leave the family in the lurch)

Harsh but true, I think?

Andrewofgg Fri 26-Aug-11 10:21:27

Neglect, yes, abuse, no.

The trouble is, Newbabynewmum, that once you allow linkage in the extreme cases - of both sorts - you open the floodgates. All the unhappy parents would regard their own cases as extreme.

When an RP moves to another area and makes contact difficult issues arise, don't they? In principle where there is contact perhaps that should need the agreement of the NRP or the court as it does if it is to another country - particularly if there are no work-related reasons to do so. But I can imagine that others will differ!

GwendolenHarleth Fri 26-Aug-11 10:26:47

IMO repeatedly not turning up when the child is expecting them is emotional abuse as it is knowingly treating them in a way which is going to cause the child a lot of emotional distress. In that situation i would probably not tell the child in advance when the visiting was due to come, so they didn;t have their hopes dashed. Harder when they are old enough to ask when they will see them i would imagine though.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 26-Aug-11 10:31:33

YABVU, its not abuse as in the true meaning of the world. Not turning up or breaking promises to a child is wrong but not just NRP do that - other adults do so where would you draw the line.

If you believe not financially supporting a child is abuse, then it would have to apply to PWC and NRP - lots of PWC choose not to work and support the child but let the state instead.

Animation Fri 26-Aug-11 10:36:19

It's emotional abuse - because it impacts on the child like an EMOTIONAL injury, pain and hurt. And it's the kind of trauma that effects the child's self esteem and confidence and sense of identity.

It's definately a form of emotional abuse - whether that's the intention on father's part or not.

sunshineandbooks Fri 26-Aug-11 10:40:03

Of all the PWC who 'choose' not to work (which is the minority BTW since most single parents do work contrary to popular belief), how many of them actively choose not to take paid employment and how many want to work but cannot find work that can be juggled with being the sole carer or cannot afford childcare?

And do we believe that staying at home, living off benefits, raising children on a shoestring is the life of riley? It is work (the sort that is low-paid, with no time off and no status). Many of these PWCs are making sacrifices for their children's greater good. Parents on benefits are only not supporting their child if they are depriving their child of the money meant for their support.

At least PWCs living on benefits are actively engaged in caring for their child and bringing them up, unlike the non-paying NRPs or those who don't bother with any meaningful contact.

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