For parents who rely on child support payments to take care of their families, any non-payment could be harmful. Single parents rely pretty heavily on child support payments, and if they don't come, the struggle becomes harder. Raising a family on one income is hard enough, but when you have to add in chasing down the additional income, life becomes impossible. And as much as the government tries to get involved in making sure that the parent who is supposed to pay does, they don't always. So now, the state of California is proposing a bill to publicly shame parents into making their child support payments.
Yes, this is definitely a controversial move, but it may not be the worst idea. As of right now, if parents aren't making child support payments and the government has their work information, they can garnish wages directly from their checks. But parents are well aware of this and some will go far enough as to get jobs that don't leave a trace so they are receiving their full wages and also not paying child support.
In the bill, proposed by Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey, parents who owe more than $5,000 in child support would be put on an online database, viewable to the public. This would mean that potential employers, landlords and creditors have access to this information. It could be a detriment if they were denied housing or a job because of this, but it could also be helpful for the parent to understand that their actions have serious consequences.
As of right now, several states, including Kansas, Arizona, and Texas have already implemented this online database. Lackey has made it clear that this tool wouldn't be used to shame parents, but rather, make them realize this isn't going to just disappear.
"What we're trying to do is use a very effective tool called peer pressure that actually allows people to shape their behavior in a positive way because where we need to focus is not so much on the offender, but we have to be reminded that there's a very, very serious victim here and that's the children," he said, via ABC7 California.
Some may worry that the children will react negatively and it could harm their relationship with that parent. Chances are, if the parent isn't paying child support, that child does not have a very positive relationship with them. Children understand when a parent is engaging in harmful behavior. And if they see their custodial parent struggling, they probably already have negative feelings about the negligent parent.
And if there is a concern for safety, Lackey has acknowledged that the parent has the option to not have that information public. If the parent makes payments for 90 days, they will be removed from the list.