Uglysasquatch, Mercenary Major wrote:
If she wants the father involved in the child's life, the law will help her track him down and get money from him if nothing else.
No they won't. The laws state that they will, but they really won't do much. They'll withhold government cheques, they'll request employers garnish wages, but they won't actually enforce anything.
Actually, while re-reading it, I wasn't super clear, I was thinking a bit broader than I think most are. Obviously, I don't know the specifics in this case, but the issue I was addressing is the case where the father and mother were never married and the father is excluded from the child's life. If the mother wants the father involved (even if just financially) there are many legal options open to her to identify the father and force some sort of paternity test and at least get some form of legal documentation as to the responsibility of the father for the child.
But if the mother doesn't do this, it's nearly impossible for a father to gain that legal recognition at all. Since the mother is defacto guardian/parent of the child at birth, but he's not unless they're married, he can only gain that status via some pretty difficult and expensive legal action unless she wants him to. He's at an automatic disadvantage in this area because he starts out having absolutely zero legal connection to the child. He has to first fight to gain that connection and *then* fight for custody.
It's not uncommon for the father to continue to exist in a kind of legal limbo, where the mother still treats him as the father, perhaps even expects financial help from him, but all of this is done "off the books" so to speak. He may go along with this because it's better than nothing at all, but as years go by things may change, he may be increasingly excluded and has no recourse. And, the more time passes the more difficult it is to do anything about it. The courts response is often "why did you wait X years to come to us". And there's always the concern that since whatever assistance he's been giving all those years has been under the table, he could suffer a massive financial hit if he ever succeeds in gaining legal recognition as the father. Imagine having been in this state for years, fighting through the court system to gain parental recognition, then as the judge finally grants you those rights, he also slaps you with the years of back child support the state believes you owe.
That scenario is even more common if the mother has been receiving any sort of public assistance btw. The state will see the father as having been the person who should have been paying that money and want it back from him. As unfair as that is, that's the way our laws tend to work in these cases. It sucks, but basically if the mother wants to screw over the father in those situations, she absolutely can. And he's going to get it several times over.
This doesn't remove the fact that there are a lot of deadbeat dads on the other side of the equation, of course. Just pointing out that it's not always as cut and dried as it may look at first glance.