To the Editor,

What happens when a parent loses a job? For many families this can be a devastating blow, particularly if the parent who lost the job was the primary income earner of the family. With some new budgeting, financial reserve and a “let’s all pitch in!” attitude, some families are able to weather the storm until a new job is on the horizon.

What happens in a single parent family when the custodial parent loses a job? As in two parent families this can be a devastating blow. But the same applies: with some new budgeting, financial reserve and a “let’s pitch in!” attitude, some families are able to get by.

What happens in a single parent family when the non-custodial parent loses a job? As in the previous examples this can be a devastating blow. But a different rule applies: the Child Support Guidelines. Let me translate that: “The non-custodial parent is no longer financially responsible for his or her children. No work = no responsibility!” For the family – “It’s sink or swim.”

In my particular case although the non-custodial parent who lost his job received a generous severance package and is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, he is not required to pay any support while out of work.

If I, the custodial parent, were to lose my income – would I be allowed to stop feeding and housing my kids? No, that would be considered criminal.

Yet we have laws and guidelines such as the Child Support Guidelines that validate parental neglect. The Child Support Guidelines can be misinterpreted to the detriment of the children and families that they are intended to protect.

Too many of these and similar stories unfold behind the closed doors of family court. Maybe it’s time to take stock of how (or if) the guidelines are working for the benefit of children.

Thank you,Ronnie Scullion

By Ronnie Scullion

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