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Child support not the same as child custody or fatherhood

Most Tennessee couples would agree that planning to obtain a divorce is a very big step. Not only does it involve emotional and financial issues but it also involves the future of the divorcing couple's children. One of the most contentious issues in a divorce is either related to child custody or payment of child support. Father's often complain about having to bear the complete expenses of child support, whereas mothers complain that their financial needs as single mothers are not being taken care of by the system.

Consistent with those patterns, mandatory child support laws in the United States have often been criticized by men. According to child support laws, a man who unintentionally fathers a child with a woman is required to provide life-long expenses for the child, even if he does not wish to raise the child with her. Critics have often advocated repealing the child support laws and giving fathers the right to choose whether they pay to support the child.

However, according to at least one columnist, providing financial support for a child and fatherhood are two different concepts and should not be considered as one choice. According to the law, most men do not have the option to choose whether they pay child support, but a non-custodial father can easily opt out of fatherhood. In most divorce cases, the mother is most often the custodial parent of the child because there is often a bond that exists between the mother and her child. The responsibility of raising the child falls on the mother who, as a single parent, may require some amount of financial support from the father of the child.

The entire concept of equating child support payments with forced fatherhood does not seen fair, according to the columnist, because the man is not required to perform any of the fatherly duties except for paying to raise the child. He has the option of not maintaining a relationship with either the child or his mother but can continue paying child support. Similarly, custodial fathers are entitled to the same legal rights and protections that are given to custodial mothers under the law. Hence, it is very important that parents are fully equipped to handle the child custody and child support issues in the event of their separation or divorce as they need to take into account the best interests of the child.

Source: Salon.com, "No, child support can't be a choice," Carolyn Edgar, Nov. 8, 2013

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