Dad's opinion: 'Child support is a privilege to pay'
IT seems that every time I check my Facebook feed there is commentary and complaints from parents (usually mums) about the dad of their kid(s) not paying child support and similar posts from the dads that they can't see their kids.
This certainly isn't a new phenomenon, but in the age of over-sharing it seems that many upset parents are looking for a sympathetic friend or want some positive reinforcement that the situation, as bad as it is, just "isn't their fault".
I guess I must be one of the lucky ones. But I'll get to that in a minute.
For context purposes, I'm divorced from the mother of my two sons, and I have also worked for the Child Support Agency.
During my time at the CSA, I was responsible for investigating complaints to the Minister, Ombudsman, local Members of Parliament and frankly anyone else that would listen about the "man-hating" and the lazy staff who just didn't care about what was happening to the kids after the breakdown of a relationship.
At the time, which was before I even had kids, I was continually amazed at the level of hatred that some the parents of these kids far too often had for each other. The ones that seemed to have it together really demonstrated to me that the focus of any post-relationship arrangement needs to be about the kids. It shouldn't be about getting back at someone that hurt you, getting even or trying to control someone else.
I went home almost every day reflecting that at some point these people (generally) loved each other and were devoted and committed to each other enough that they made a conscious decision to have kids. I remember thinking at the time that if I was ever in that position that I would remember that fact.
I was no longer at the CSA, and I was now divorced with two young children. At the end of our relationship my ex-wife and I made a commitment to each other that we would put the kids first. This didn't just mean that we would provide for them, we were always careful not to denigrate the other in front of them.
The CSA assessed my child support liability but I never once made a payment to them. We had a "private collect" arrangement where I paid my ex direct each month.
In fact, quite the opposite. I considered it a privilege to be able to do this. It meant that I was helping to provide for them, and importantly it meant that they would grow up knowing I was part of their lives. By this I mean that access was never a problem and their mum would never tell them that I didn't care about them. I never begrudged them buying shoes or anything else they needed on a visit to "Dad's".
I understand that my story is the exception rather than the rule but it doesn't have to be - nor should it be that way.
Remember why you had the kids. Remember the dreams and hopes you once shared with their other parent. You can still give those dreams a chance.
Another ten years further down the track and my eldest is now living with me.
This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.