A 58 year-old father, who seemed to have had a normal life before divorce proceedings, doused his body with gasoline and set himself on fire in the name of Father Rights. Thomas James Ball, like many men, went through divorce proceedings. Because he had children he automatically became linked to Child Support Recovery. He diligently paid his child support on time and followed the guidelines up until he lost his job.

This is where the trouble began… Although he lost his job, the payments he was supposed to make put him in arrears in terms of money but also in paying medical bills. With the economy the way it is….Thomas James could not find a job. Could he have worked at McDonald’s?  If he had, it still wouldn’t have been enough to pay his child support. As the system goes, it reached the point of him either going to jail or paying the $3,000.00 he owed.

Knowing Thomas James didn’t have a job, the state would not suspend his child support until he found employment. Many Baton Rouge men fall into this viscous cycle, leaving them feeling as though fathers simply don’t have rights. Fathers are automatically labeled by society as dead beats when statistically most men pay some form of child support.

Many men who otherwise have been good fathers end up feeling as though they are just a number in the system whose voice has been taken away. More and more occurrences are happening where men just walk away from their child support obligations and do nothing.

Unfortunately, women as a whole may not understand how this system relates to and breaks men’s spirits who do the right thing, unless the women find themselves in the same situation. Picture this: the child/children’s father had custody of the child/children and the mother was made to pay the father the exact amount of money he was ordered to pay in child support. The mother may have to work 2 or 3 jobs to pay child support and have enough left over to pay rent, utilities, healthcare, and other basic living expenses.

The way the child support system operates and the laws regarding such should really be looked at more closely and changed where it is fair for both parties. The child support system is not meant to destroy the lives of the non-custodial parents or leave single parents destitute. Raising children is the equal responsibility of both parents. In a perfect world, parents would come together to take care of the needs of their children and do what needs to be done together, just as they created these children together.


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