Archive for the ‘Fathers’ Category

On Father’s Day, it’s hard to admit a serious truth. Children who have fathers involved in their lives have brighter futures than those who don’t.

Dan Welch, of the Colorado Department of Human Services Division of Child Support, brought this point home in his presentation on the importance of fathers last month at the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library in Broomfield. Among other things, he gave pointers on healthy involvement and fathering.

Welch discussed how children are better off when fathers model positive values, provide monetarily for their needs and contribute to their safety and health development. Fathers help when they are engaged with their children and teach them to contribute to society, to engage in positive relationships and to achieve academically.

A few days ago over the phone, Dean Smith of Erie added to that list. He said, “There’s not enough discipline. Discipline raises good children and there’s not enough of that in the world.” He added his son, Dalton, 16, and his daughter, Ericka, 19, say, “Yes, sir,” mind him and do well. If they didn’t say that, he said he would ask them, “What did you say?”

Smith is right in his observations. Without discipline, youth have a “blown-off attitude” and little respect for rules or the law. That respect must start at home. Smith’s father taught him with his “hard-nosed” approach and Smith has done the same with his children. He’s added a softer side as well. While his son has been in Mexico, Smith said he called him just to tell him he loved him and missed him.

Ericka Smith said her father “definitely” is the role model she thinks fathers should be, and he is always available for her. No matter how busy Smith’s day has been, “it’s nice because we always sit down to dinner together and talk about our day,” Ericka Smith said.

Debbie Smith said her son often wrestles with his father after dinner and the father teaches the son about his business and other matters to help him in the future.

One statistic Welch shared could point to the problem of training starting in the home. That is the increasing trend of fatherlessness. In the U.S., 34 percent of children don’t live with their biological fathers. Two culprits are out-of-wedlock births and single-parent families. Without help, these children’s lives often head in the wrong direction. Seventy percent of incarcerated men in Colorado have no father figure in their lives.

“Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation,” said David Blackenhorn in his book, “Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problems.” He added, “It is not only the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society but is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women.”

Welch correctly observed in a recent e-mail that as fatherhood goes, we live in the best of time and the worst of times. Title IV, Section D of the Social Security Act was expanded in 1984 to allow families not enrolled in Aid to Families with Dependent Children to apply for IV-D services for a minimal fee. This is a safety net for struggling families.
Welch also pointed out more good news for fatherhood. More employers recognize fathers by giving them time off to attend to their children.

Now, if we can improve the fatherlessness figures by next year even a little bit, that would be a good move. For Colorado fathers willing to try but not knowing where to turn, the Colorado Department of Human Services Web site, coloradodads.com, may help as it promotes responsible fathering.

Source: Published June 15, 2008, under “The importance of fathers” Daily Camera

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Senate Bill 07-015 breezed through the legislative process last year with its focus on adequate child support for Colorado’s children whose parents divorce. The bill resulted in changes to Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-115 that took effect on Jan. 1.

The statute clarified child support is based, among other things, on the combined gross incomes of both parents adjusted for preexisting child support or maintenance, or alimony. It also clarified that children due support are those for whom parents share “joint legal responsibility and for whom support is being sought.” A worksheet helps parents work through issues, including how to handle “other children not of this marriage/relationship.”

Despite this clarity, fathers still can be penalized by court order to pay child support for children other than their own. William Farrell, a Longmont resident and a divorced father of two daughters, 6 and 7, explained how this could happen.

Farrell said when a mother adds children from other relationships or marriages into her adjusted gross income calculations, the amount the father on the worksheet pays goes up. In his example, a mother’s gross income a month was $2,000. When she took a $200 deduction for each of her two children, her adjusted gross income was lowered to $1,600. Then, the next level of calculations leaves the father in question paying a little more.

The problem with the law is it is basically guidelines and a schedule of basic child support obligations. And, judges are hard-pressed to secure adequate financial support for each child. They have a responsible dad before them and deadbeat dads they cannot either find or cannot force to pay. So, at their discretion, judges can order one father to pay more — essentially paying for another man’s child.

It’s outrageous that no matter how many babies mothers have, they can rely on their most responsible ex-husband to pay child support for all of them, even those born after the divorce. Then, if that weren’t enough, they are held accountable for that child support even when they lose their jobs for some reason. Their earning power and income stack up against them then.

Farrell said when he lost his job as a software engineer and was unemployed for 2 months, he tried to get the court to adjust his child support payments for those two months. The court wouldn’t do it because of his potential income level. Now that he is the custodial parent, however, the same standard does not apply. Farrell says that his ex-wife, who could not be reached for comment, is in school and ordered to pay only $50 in child support.

In determining the amount of support parents are to provide, financial resources of the custodial parent, standard of living the child would have enjoyed in an intact household, and financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent are among the considerations in determining the amount of child support.

Last year’s legislative effort produced a “nonsubstantive recodification of section 14-10-115.” Could efforts next year mandate fathers are free from paying court-ordered child support for another man’s child? There’s no other fair way to go.

Source: Published April 27, 2008, under “Father’s rights” Daily Camera

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