John Nelson, like so many others, was a victim of the economic meltdown our country is trying to deal with; he lost his job and was out of work for a year, before finding another, lower-paying position. Nelson is also a divorced father, ordered to pay child support. After he was laid off, Nelson filed for a reduction in his child support obligation, but it took more than a year to get a court date and then, when he finally did get to make his case before a judge, the judge actually increased the amount Nelson had to pay, leaving him with just $58 per week to live on.
Robert Franklin, writing on the blog of Fathers & Families executive director Glenn Sacks, decries this situation and notes that if Nelson and his wife were still married when he lost his job, then “[the kids'] standard of living would drop along with that of their parents.” Franklin says that “only if the parents are divorced does the concept arise that the children’s lives must in no way change due to a parent’s loss of income.” He adds that the judge must be living “in a fantasy world in which children must and do remain unaffected when their father loses his job.”
While I agree that this seems a bit outrageous — $58 a week doesn’t buy a whole lot of gas, let alone mac & cheese — I think Mr. Franklin neglects to take something into account — the parents, in this case, are divorced. Now, there are an awful lot of very good reasons for couples to get divorced but the fact remains that their children’s lives have been torn apart. This may, in some cases, be a good thing for the kids, but generally speaking, it isn’t.
Whether the divorce was due to philandering, abuse, or just plain I-can’t-stand-the-mustard-knife-in-the-mayo-jar-anymore personal differences, something went wrong and it’s not the kids’ fault. It seems to me that it’s not unreasonable to try and make up for that a bit by keeping the rest of their lives — piano lessons, vacations at the beach, etc. — as consistent as possible. What do you think?