“A Flawed System” by Butch Ford
Today’s topic may be a little touchy for some. But it’s been MY reality for the better part of two decades and it’s a story I’d like to share. It’s the story of the flawed Child Support System. It’s known by a plethora of names nationwide, but here in Michigan it’s called Friend of The Court. As a black man living in a major metropolis in Today’s Amerikkka, I have questions regarding the system’s infrastructure. For instance…How are the financial parameters established? What equations are they based on? Are the rulings even FAIR for all parties involved? Let’s delve into it a bit, shall we? Remember…I can only speak about my own experience with FOC (Friend of The Court). So, this is an isolated instance and doesn’t reflect the hundreds of thousands of cases still currently open locally and afar.
I am a proud father of a college freshman at an HBCU. She’s a beautiful young lady and an honor student with a bright future ahead. But it was a struggle financially throughout her childhood, adolescent and teen years working to support her at only a fraction of my earnings. Her custodial parent was awarded a substantial amount of money to support my daughter, as ordered by the FOC. In addition to that, I was delegated as to when I could and couldn’t see her. i.e….every other weekend, alternating holidays, etc. WAS THAT FAIR TO ANYONE?
Sadly, on several of my designated weekends I had to pick up extra shifts and work overtime to supplement my income due to the monies that were allocated to the custodial parent. I had responsibilities in my own household which robbed us of valuable, quality time together. WAS THIS FAIR TO ANYONE? Her custodial parent is a public educator and has always earned more than I have professionally. So that’s where my questions regarding the financial parameters of the system stem from. There were also times when I couldn’t buy that toy, go see that new movie or purchase that certain article of clothing for her…due to the support order and what was being deducted from my earnings. WAS THAT FAIR TO ANYONE?
It’s degrading for a man to work hard on a daily basis and not be able to reliably provide for his offspring. However, I made sure to instill positive values and morals in her. Teaching her that life isn’t about monetary gain. But more about your character and how you represent yourself as a proud, respectful and dignified African American Queen. These lessons helped shape her into the productive young lady she has become. She just recently turned eighteen and my case through FOC has been closed. It was a long, emotional and often grueling journey that saw me pay well over 100K to her custodial parent. WAS THAT FAIR TO ANYONE?
But who benefited from all of this? And who suffered from it? What changes could/should be made to fix this obvious flawed system? Because changes are needed. Why does it even take a third party to dictate this process? And who stands to gain the most from the third party’s involvement? FOC received thousands of dollars in fees for “mediating” or meddling (whichever way you choose to look at it). These questions are rhetorical…of course. And the narrative isn’t about deadbeat parents or those types of situations…but more about hardworking people who simply want what’s best for their child(ren) in a co-parenting partnership. In my opinion, The Friend of The Court ain’t nobody’s f***in’ friend! It should be scrapped and overhauled.