While almost no one would argue that custodial parents receive some of the child support they need to raise their families, another group is also poorly served: low-income non custodial fathers. Family Visions NC, Inc. believes there should be balance or at least resources available for non-custodial fathers. It is our opinion that, North Carolina child support system often works against the best interests of children and families they serve. Consider this: More than 84 percent of non-custodial parents in North Carolina do not have the income to keep up with their child support orders, with average arrearages of over $9,000. These payors are typically and overwhelmingly young, minority, poorly educated, with little work experience and have previous incarcerations. Unrealistically high child support orders can take up to 65 percent of their wages, leaving them unable to pay for rent, transportation or food. This is based upon one child only. When support orders are not rationally related to income and the number of children to be provided for, the arrearages accumulate quickly, leaving the non-custodial parent further and further behind.
A license suspension may follow, leading to possible unemployment; or jail, leading to certain unemployment. Or, they may disappear into the underground economy, where their wages can’t be garnished. Clearly, something needs to be done in a city where nearly a quarter of the population and almost a third of the children live in households whose income falls below the federal poverty guidelines. Yet efforts to fix the system are hampered by the political unpopularity of low-income non-custodial parents, who are often branded as deadbeats who deserve what they get. It is our belief that the fathers are not beat dads, but rather dead broke dads.