Dead Beat Fathers

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Bruce Walker, executive coordinator at the District Attorney's Council in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma has been quoted as saying: (Bruce Walker, "Deadbeat Dads? Look Closer," Christian Science Monitor, August 16, 1996, p. 18)

"I have put hundreds of these deadbeat dads in jail, and I have collected child support from tens of thousands of them. I was the primary or only trial attorney in three child-support enforcement offices for eight years, and then I ran the Oklahoma child-support enforcement program for three years.

The real deadbeat dad is seldom a model citizen, but he is even more seldom the mythical monster described by politicians. Most deadbeat dads are frightened, angry, and depressed men who fall into several overlapping categories:

Remarried Supporter. A large percentage of deadbeat dads are remarried and are supporting several step-children or biological children from a second marriage.
Often this family is poorer than the household of his ex-wife, who may have married a more successful breadwinner. It is also common for the ex-wife of a deadbeat dad to have remarried another deadbeat dad, who is supporting her and her children. Men in Poverty. Many deadbeat dads are homeless, and an even greater percentage are poor.

Because the calculation of a woman's income excludes many of the social welfare benefits she receives, the statistical picture of women in poverty is highly misleading.

Not only are many deadbeat dads destitute, it is often their failures as providers which led their ex-wives to divorce them. I prosecuted one deadbeat dad who had been hospitalized for malnutrition and another who lived in the bed of a pick-up truck.

Many times I prosecuted impoverished men on behalf of ex-wives who had remarried successful men and were living in comfortable conditions.
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