Divorced Dads Who Choose Parenting Over Income and Child Support: Sinners or Saints?

Fathers want to flip traditional roles on their heads and become the equal or primary parent -- will mothers stand for it? Will you?
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More married fathers stay home to care for the children -- check.

More married fathers spend quality time with their children as a result -- check.

More married mothers become the breadwinners -- check.

Divorced dads make a life and career change to work less, earn less, spend much more time with their kids and, as a result, pay less support -- whoa, whoa, whoa. This is America, pal. Don't mess with the sanctity of child support and alimony.

Let's go through how more dads get there.

Boy meets girl.

...And they fall in love. They have children. Dad works the long hours and makes the money. Mom stays home to raise them. It's all very normal, sweet and 1950s.

Boy loses girl.

Maybe one of them cheated. Perhaps they grew apart. Forget fault. Whatever the reason for the divorce, it happened. Life for each parent has changed and will do so even more.

Boy pays girl.

Mom takes care of the kids the far majority of the time. Dad works...a lot. Mom wants and expects child support. The law mandates it. Marital lifestyle? You bet. Spousal support piles on top in states that award it. But then the unthinkable happens.

Boy wants to be an equal parent and nothing less.

Emma Gray hits it out of the park (at a minimum, a ground rule double) in her article about career women and dispensing with old and tired expectations.

But free thinking and unchained, progressive life choices apply to men too, right? The gander wants to play goose and raise the little ones...and perhaps he wants child support. Gasp!

Look at it from the father's perspective.

Let's say he makes a cool $100,000 to $150,000 per year and mom doesn't work. With two kids, what's child support? And alimony? Thousands per month? Let's not forget about taxes. That comes off the top while the support comes out of the net. Head or gut? Here, it's both.

"I have a few thousand dollars left each month to pay my own bills and barely see my kids," dad may think.

"This sucks!" he may protest.

He could be right.

Career goes on a pause, maybe the stop button is hit and dad becomes a nine to fiver. Income drops, child support and alimony is modified downward, less making and spending money so he can dedicate more time to his children.

The mom's perspective matters.

She will now have to share custody and parenting time equally, or even take less than equal time if she works more. "He's disrupting our lives! This isn't fair!" mom may rightfully cry out.

Child support drops in states like California that connect it to parenting time.

Alimony may drop in states where it is based mostly on income.

Mom may get aggressive and litigate the case.

Shouldn't the children's best interest be paramount?

Is it really reasonable to argue the father should be forced to work more and spend less time with the kids? Isn't this a life choice, his choice? A "dead beat dad," as the moniker goes, refers to a father who doesn't pay court ordered child support and doesn't spend time with the children. Here we have the opposite of that.

It's not all great for the kids.

If a sexy six figure income becomes a modest five, say goodbye to private school, one or more extracurricular activities and maybe even that annual Disneyland pass. You can't have it all, so it becomes a choice of having what matters most.

Is any of this the real life?

More fathers are staying home to raise the kids. That is what the U.S. Census Bureau tells us. In 2011, there were 176,000 married, stay at home fathers with children under the age of 15 who had been out of the workforce for at least a year. In 2012, fathers staying at home jumped up to 189,000. To put it into perspective, in 2002, that number was only 93,000. It has gone up and is going up. At our family law firm, we have noticed the trend start to spill over into separated and divorcing dads.

What do you think?

Just as more married fathers stay home to care for the children, divorced dads may realize career minus kids, multiplied by support isn't a pursuit toward happiness. As more of them do, and fathers want to flip traditional roles on their heads and become the equal or primary parent, will mothers stand for it? Will you?

Okay, you're up. Let's hear it. Are these dads sinners or saints?

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