July 9th, 2013

Should men* be allowed to opt out of child support?

For biological reasons, men and women are inherently unequal when it comes to their roles in becoming parents. To be exact, women become pregnant and give birth and men don’t, and those differences are likely to remain into the foreseeable future.

If a child isn’t wanted by both sexual partners, you’d think that—with the advent of reliable and easily available birth control—unwanted or unplanned pregnancies would happen very rarely. Well, we all know how that’s turned out.

Once an unplanned pregnancy occurs, a mother-to-be and father to-be have some decisions to make, about which they might agree or disagree with each other. If unmarried, they can decide to get married if they want, and to have the baby and raise it together, if both want that as well. If neither wants the baby born, and both are in favor of abortion, the woman can decide to abort it and the man would be likely to approve. It neither believes in abortion and in addition neither wants the baby, the woman can give birth and give it up for adoption, and both would agree that’s a good solution. And if both want the baby born and both want to raise it, but they don’t want to get married, they could agree on custody and visitation arrangements, or alternatively there can be a custody hearing that would be somewhat similar to what would occur if they had been married and were now divorcing.

But what about other disagreements? For example, what if the mother wants to have an abortion and the father doesn’t want that? What if she wants to give the baby up for adoption and he wants to raise it himself? And what if he doesn’t want her to keep the baby because he doesn’t want to be forced to pay child support? The law addresses these fact situations and cases differently.

The first legal principle is that the mother makes decisions about her body. Let’s say the mother wants an abortion and the father wants to stop her, or the father wants her to have an abortion and she wants to have the baby. Legally he has no say in the matter. Although it’s his baby as well, the baby is developing within her body, and he cannot compel her to have or not to have an abortion against her will. That’s a sad fact of life (and death) for fathers, but there’s no way around it legally because the consequences of a different ruling—that he could force her to carry the baby and have it against her will, or force her to have an abortion against her will—would be terrible. Of course, you might say that with abortion all of it is terrible anyway.

But adoption is different. No, a father can’t compel a pregnant woman to keep the child and raise it after its birth. But if she does decide to bear the child and wants to give it up for adoption, although the law is complex and varies from state-to-state in terms of what he must do to preserve his right to raise the child, much of the time he can do so—providing, of course, he knows there is a child in the first place, and is willing to accept responsiblity for it. Sometimes he is kept in the dark about the existence of a child, especially if he is no longer in contact with the woman during her pregnancy. In certain circumstances, if a mother-to-be wants to keep mum about the identity of the father of the child she can. So in the realm of stopping an adoption, fathers have some rights, because the baby is no longer part of the mother’s body.

But what if she decides to keep the child and raise it, and the father does not wish to be involved in any way? The way the law stands now he is liable for child support no matter what his wishes, and there’s nothing he can do about it. This is true whether he consented to the birth of the child or not, or even if the mother lied to him and said she was using birth control when she was not, or whether he and/or she used birth control that failed for some reason or another. Whether or not he wanted a child or even had reason to believe the act of intercourse in which he engaged was highly unlikely to result in conception, the state has an inherent interest in holding parents responsible for supporting their children financially. The state does not want to have to support those same children itself through welfare.

But what if such a father were willing to relinquish all parental rights, including those of custody and/or visitation, and thus be excused from paying child support? At first glance, that seems to be only fair. After all, it equals the playing field somewhat, since it merely gives a father the right a mother already has (through adoption or abortion) to opt out of parenthood and responsibility for an unwanted and unplanned child.

It’s an especially attractive proposition if in fact the woman lied to him and said she was on birth control pills, for example. Why should he have to spend eighteen or so years supporting the unintended (by him) result of her lie?

A personal word here—I don’t like any of this. I fervently wish people only had children wanted by both parents. I wish birth control were foolproof. I wish people didn’t lie to each other about stuff like whether they are using birth control (something men can do, too; all they have to do is say that they’ve had a vasectomy when they have not). I wish all children were conceived in love and mutual respect. I wish I wish I wish—and what difference does it make what I wish?

Reality is different, and it seems as though it’s getting more different every day. And the law must deal with reality, not wishes. Given the inherently unequal situation in reproduction that I started this post by acknowledging, and the present-day facts of abortion and adoption and unmarried parents and all the rest, doesn’t it behoove us to make things as equal between the sexes as possible?

I think it does. But we must beware, beware the law of unintended consequences. Because if fathers are allowed to relinquish their parental rights in order to get out of paying child support for an unwanted child, it may be that one of the consequences is likely to be that more children will effectively become fatherless, and the state (that is, the taxpayer) may end up having to pay instead of the father.

Of course, we don’t know for sure what would happen. It could be that, instead, such a law would cause potential unwed mothers to think more carefully before they have sex with a guy who’s not marriage material, and who isn’t serious about them and about his future responsibilities, because the potential mother would know she can’t necessarily get him to pay. Hey, maybe the illegitimate birth rate would even drop. Maybe more babies would be given up for adoption and more infertile couples could raise them, loved and wanted by both parents, because the biological mother would know she would face a high probability of having to struggle financially without the father’s legally-mandated help.


But there’s a strange inequality that would probably rear its head if father opt-out were allowed: what about married men? Would anyone argue that a married man should have the same choice regarding a child he conceives within that marriage as an unmarried man would have? (Let’s simplify things a tiny bit by leaving out those special and complex cases in which a married man has been forced to support a child not biologically his, which does unfortunately happen at times). Wouldn’t it be unconscionable if married men could voluntarily relinquish rights (and duties) to their own children and remain married? And even if they wanted to divorce the mother and live apart and relinquish rights and responsibilities to their children, it would seem as a public policy matter that they should not legally be allowed to walk away from supporting their own children by that mechanism, even if the divorce is not their fault. Children would suffer even more than they do now, and it’s bad enough the way it is.

But if married (or previously-married) men couldn’t opt out of child support obligations and unmarried men could opt out, what effect would that differential have on marriage itself? I submit it would have a chilling effect on marriage. Many men are already opting out of marriage (see this), and so what would happen if unmarried men could evade responsibility for the children they father but married men could not? How many men would decide to get married under those unequal circumstances?

I don’t profess to know for sure. But my gut tells me the marriage rates would plummet. Marriage has fewer and fewer obvious benefits now, and a man already stands to lose a great deal in a divorce. A law like this would increase the penalty for marriage, would it not? Since for the most part men can have sex pretty easily outside of marriage these days, and even father children if they want, why wouldn’t they wish to preserve their freedom to decide to be a parent or not by remaining unmarried to the mother?

I can envision a day when only the highly religious get married, and the rest just have various fluid and ever-changing legal arrangements. Stability? What’s that?

Whenever I wade into these topics I find it depressing. There doesn’t seem to be any good solution to the problems of love gone bad and the resulting turf wars over children. And the comments sections of various blogs (including this one) for posts dealing with these questions often devolve into rageful shouting matches. I see many of the problems, but (as in this post) the solutions that come to mind are fraught with other problems, many of them even worse for children and society.

Life isn’t fair, sad and difficult choices must be made, and you can’t always get what you want—and although the law can change, it can’t change that basic fact. Nor can it change the law of unintended consequences.

[* NOTE: I put an asterisk next to “men” in the title of this post because, although men would be the ones most commonly affected by such a law, it is certainly possibly that some women would take advantage of it too. Although there are fewer of them in the situation than men, there are women who also lose custody and have to pay child support, and those women currently are not legally allowed to opt out of that responsibility either (there are those of both sexes who just disappear, of course, and opt out de facto rather than de jure). I would imagine that some of these women would willingly relinquish their parental rights in order to be exempted from paying support if it ever became legal to do so.]

147 Responses to “Should men* be allowed to opt out of child support?”

  1. I Callahan Says:

    This particular subject got so heated at Althouse last week that she turned off comments, calling it a “comment vacation”.

    Stuff like this will always bring out the emotion, because it hits home with folks on both sides.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    I Callahan:

    In the years I’ve been blogging, two subjects seem to bring on the most comment heat. The first is Israel, and the second is what you might call (or anyway, what James Thurber called) the war between men and women.

  3. parker Says:

    A well thought out and depressing essay.

  4. TMG Says:

    1. Please explain your presumption that being married = obliged consent to fatherhood. Does being a wife = obliged consent to be a mother?

    2. If falling marriage rates is a concern to you, why not make marriage more of an attractive proposition for men? Right now, regardless of fatherhood issues, marriage is a really really bad deal for men.

    3. So I give you credit for at least considering that men may be deserving of some reproductive rights. But ultimately, it seems like you are willing to stick men with the crap end of the stick on every issue, because of “unintended consequences.” But women still get to pretty much do as they please. but in the end you are just defaulting to the furtherance of Team Woman privilege.

    Wouldn’t you acknowledge that the status quo you are endorsing, which basically supports women regardless of how irresponsible she is, results in “unintended consequences?”

    I guess adult responsibility is something that women aren’t capable of.

  5. Doom Says:

    I am all for opting out. Including in divorce cases, and absolutely if she remarries. Oh, I think there would be unanticipated effects. It would take about a decade, maybe a generation, but women would… be damn careful about letting that dime slip from between their knees… as my mother put it, and how it was put to her when she was a teen.

    Especially with free and easy abortion going the way of the dodo bird.

    When simple morality is questioned you live in an insane world. Killing babies before they are even born, in any other species, would be considered a crime, for example. We do, more than ever, live in a legally insane world, one approved and supported by our government, and more than ever. Good luck getting such a thing to pass, but it would be beautiful.

  6. Ann Says:

    Tinkering with the basic building block of society has gotten us into a fine mess, and I don’t see anything stopping this free-fall from here on out.

    I keep thinking of Yeats’s widening gyre and the center not holding.

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    You misstate my points and misunderstand my message.

    There is nothing in my post that implies that either men or women consent to parenthood through being married. However, the reality of life is that the consequences of having sex (married or unmarried) can always be a pregnancy unless there is absolute infertility through advanced age or other physical limitations,and that those children that result from pregnancies need to be supported.

    And of course I think both sexes should always be responsible for their actions.

    You may or may not have noticed I’m not advocating in this post either for or against men opting out of child support and parental rights. I am merely pointing out the possible consequences, pro and con. I unfortunately cannot wave a wand and make marriage more attractive to anyone, man or woman, although I happen to be of the very strong opinion that a committed marriage is the best way to raise children. That horse unfortunately seems to have left the barn some time ago, as far as our society is concerned. And divorce can be a raw deal for either sex, and most definitely for children. Neither I, nor the law, seems to be able to fix that.

    You may or may not also have noticed I am also not advocating abortion. It just so happens that I much prefer adoption, but no one’s asking me, and adoption is hardly a perfect solution to a very knotty problem. Most of all, I would favor people (men AND women) being more assiduous about birth control, which I think I made very clear. But again, I don’t influence people’s decisions in this matter. In this post I am merely pointing out a bunch of possible consequences.

    It does not surprise me that comments on these matters often tend to be hostile, as I said earlier. It is very difficult to be objective, and the subject is inherently very, very emotional.

  8. neo-neocon Says:


    Yes, indeed. As Tevye said (“Fiddler on the Roof”):

    One little time i pulled out a thread.
    And where has it lead?
    Where has it lead?
    Where has it lead?
    To this?

  9. Baltimoron Says:

    I would prefer that we had tighter abortion laws and forced both men and women had to take responsibility for their actions. However, if a woman can opt out of motherhood through abortion, I can see no good reason why a man should not be able to opt out of fatherhood.

    Married couples need to be an exception however. The fact is that raising a family is part of a traditional marriage. Its what you sign up for (I’d also support giving a husband the right to say no to an abortion, but thats a topic for another day). For a husband to deny one of his kids is to break a promise to his wife.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplus, adornment, luxury, and folly, which can and must be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial [humanity’s] survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a “perfect society” on any foundation other than “Women and children first!” is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal.” Robert Heinlein

    “I guess adult responsibility is something that women aren’t capable of.” TMG

    Assigning to the entire gender of Women the inability to accept adult responsibility is a proposition whose only validity is in reference to the one who makes such an assertion.

  11. neo-neocon Says:


    So, if you see “no good reason,” it doesn’t trouble you that if unmarried men can opt out and married men can’t, this will have a very chilling effect on the marriage rate? Or do you disagree with that particular assumption about the unintended consequences of such a rule?

    Nor do you find the increased taxes you would have to pay to support those children a “good reason”? Do you not think it highly likely, also, that an opt-out rule could increase the rates of illegitimate births?

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “I can see no good reason why a man should not be able to opt out of fatherhood.” Baltimoron

    I presume you do not mean that the potential Father should be able to force the woman to either get an abortion or yield the baby up to adoption. If correct, that would leave the man opting out of child support.

    Granted that the man may not have an obligation to the mother but once the baby is born, nothing IMO can remove his parental obligation, regardless of circumstance. If the mother has behaved unethically, that is a stain upon her soul for which she shall have to answer for. If there is no justice in an afterlife, then all we are left with is the law of the jungle because all legal rationale is then based in the temporary consensus of mankind’s opinion.

  13. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    It seems that TMG does not consider a woman’s decision to bear and raise a child, or to bear and then give one up for adoption, or to make the difficult and often-searing decision to have an abortion, as an acceptance of “adult responsibility.”

    They all have consequences, although the consequences are different for each decision (and most people feel those consequences, unless they are sociopaths or psychopaths).

  14. TMG Says:

    Why is it only when we consider the rights of men that we also consider “unintended consequences?”

    We support a woman’s choice to deliberately quit taking birth control without telling her partner, and employ the force of the state to make sure the father pays child support.

    We support a woman’s choice to extract sperm from used condoms without her partner’s knowledge, and employ the force of the state to make sure the father pays child support.

    We support a woman’s choice to be impregnated by hardened criminals and wastrels, and offer her multiple sources of social welfare if he flys the coop.

    We extract child support from fathers even when they can prove they are not the biological father. Numerous women’s rights advocates have called for paternity tests to be banned, and in some countries in Europe they are literally banned. Thus upholding a woman’s sacred right to cuckold.

    We support women’s choice to not even tell a man that she is pregnant, or that he is the father, until years later he gets a letter in the mail demanding tens of thousands of dollars worth of child support.

    We support a woman’s choice to unilaterally abandon a baby at a hospital, no questions asked, or offer the baby up for adoption without the knowledge of the father.

    Boys who are raped by adult women are required to pay child support of a baby results from the crime.

    I understand you are trying to take a dispassionate, philosophical view. But in the end, the calculus of “unintended consequences” seems to only be a concern when men being allowed reproductive rights causes them. With women’s rights, I guess it’s just full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes.

    If you are willing to take some of these privileges away from women due to “unintended consequences” then maybe you are more balanced and fair than I am giving you credit for.

  15. raf Says:

    I agree with the approach that a man’s “choice” is to have sex and he should bear responsibility for the consequences of that choice. I just think that is where the woman’s “choice” should also be. The system broke when women were given a free do-over with optional abortion. What followed was largely unintended consequences.

    I think marriage should include an implicit agreement to have and raise children. Unplanned pregnancies within marriage should be carried to term; that is part of taking rewponsibility. The apparently universal desire for there to not be unpleasant consequences for anything is infantile.

  16. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Whoa, back the truck up TMG.

    No one here has supported a woman’s choice to deliberately do the appallingly unethical actions you list. That those things do happen and that the women who engage in those unethical actions are not legally prosecuted is a societal wrong.

    That the state ensures that the father pays child support is ENTIRELY proper, as regardless of circumstance his parental obligations still apply. If the woman has behaved unethically, she should of course face legal consequence, which in no way removes the father’s parental obligation to his child.

    As for extracting child support from fathers even when they can prove they are not the biological father and numerous women’s rights advocates calling for the banning of paternity tests, that is manifestly unfair and unethical.

    Laws obviously need to be enacted to redress many of the grievances you list. And we all agree that there are Judges whose rulings demonstrate their unfitness for the bench.

    That many women behave appallingly toward men is beyond dispute. That society is complicit in those wrongs is also beyond dispute. Yet none of that absolves men from their parental obligations. And those obligations begin at their child’s birth.

    That some countries in Europe ban Paternity tests is a reflection of their injustice, not ours.

  17. neo-neocon Says:


    Before abortion became legal (first, certain states, and then countrywide after Roe v Wade), llegal abortions were probably more common than you might think. I believe they were even more common than statistics show, although certainly not as common as they became after abortion was legalized. Personally, I knew many many women (fortunately I was not one of them) who had illegal abortions back then (I’m old enough to remember that time quite well).

    So even before abortions became legal, there was no golden time when a fair number of women did not have them. They were a great deal less safe back then, but women still were desperate enough to have them with some frequency. I agree, though, that they have them far more often these days, and it is a very sad and sobering development.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    I’m unaware that there are many groups advocating the banning of paternity tests per se. It is my impression that those who do advocate banning them (and I don’t have time right now to look this up, so I could be wrong about this) would advocate banning them when a married man has long accepted a certain child as his and acted as father to him/her, and then later (most likely when a divorce occurs) seeks to have a paternity test to de-legitimize that child and withdraw himself from the support and responsibility for that child, on the grounds that he is not the biological father.

    I do not support the banning of such tests in such circumstances, but I don’t think that the argument for banning them under such circumstances would be frivolous. I think those situations are deeply, deeply tragic.

  19. Jimbo Says:

    Everyone is concerned about the rights of the father or the mother but most comments leave out the child’s interests. Talk to most kids and they will tell you that they want to be loved and cared for by both a mother and a father. When two adults engage in the sex act, they have a joint responsibility to love the child that may result. If they don’t want that responsibility, they can get sterilized or not have sex.

    I hate to be the spoiler here, but anything other than a biblically-based Judeo-Christian approach (i.e. – one man for one woman for one lifetime)just doesn’t work for the child. And what hope is there for a society that doesn’t want what’s best for the children?

  20. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Groups advocating the banning of paternity tests is TMG’s assertion, not mine. I’m under the same general impression as you.

    Any married man who has long accepted a child as his and acted as father to him/her and, who then later (most likely when a divorce occurs) seeks to have a paternity test to de-legitimize that child and withdraw himself from the support and responsibility for that child, on the grounds that he is not the biological father… was never emotionally invested in that child. Fatherhood and love, once extended, to a good man, does not rest upon paternity. And it is certainly a tragic situation.

  21. n.n Says:

    The issue of elective abortion, in addition to concerns that it causes a general devaluation of human life, is that it is the prototypical dysfunctional behavior which sabotages human society. It is a choice for progressive dissociation of risk and responsibility which causes corruption. It reflects dreams of material, physical, and ego gratification which motivates its progress.

    It is only possible for women and men to enjoy liberty when they are capable of self-moderating, responsible behavior. When women or men demonstrate their incompetence, their liberty is constrained and their lives may become forfeit.

    That said, women, and men, must be held equally accountable and responsible for their voluntary behaviors. Society must normalize behaviors which preserve individual dignity, intrinsic value of human life, and individual liberty. All other behaviors, whether dysfunctional or merely unproductive, should either be tolerated or rejected.

    The issue of elective abortion is not merely social and the consequences of normalizing this choice are not constrained to the woman or man who decide their child is an undesirable obstacle to their effort of securing political, economic, and social standing.

    Has there ever been a civilization which did not eventually succumb to the consequences of dysfunctional convergence, whether caused by internal corruption or foreign invasion?

  22. Baltimoron Says:


    First of all, I do disagree with the premise. I actually don’t think that the decline in marriage has anything to do with flaws in the institution that put men at a disadvantage. People never think anything will go wrong with their marriage (until it does). The real cause for the decline in marriage is that its no longer necessary.

    But secondly, even if it did drive people away, so what? A man who can’t make that commitment shouldn’t be getting married in the first place. You can’t maintain an institution by throwing away everything that makes it meaningful.

  23. parker Says:

    NM Activists,

    No thanks, its late, and you are ________.

  24. blert Says:


    France is not the only country to now prohibit routine paternity testing.

    Such statutes are being pursued in other nations.

    The cuckold committee is active.

  25. BurkeanMama Says:

    What about the married men who are working hard, sometimes 6 or 7 hours a week to take care of their own families? Should these fathers have their paychecks raided to pay for the welfare of children whose baby daddys opt out of child support. Because someone is going to be feeding this children. We aren’t going to let a bunch of bastards starve in the streets like Georgian England. If the parents of these children don’t pay for them, then the taxpayers will have to.

    If you want to worry about men’s rights, lets worry about the law abiding, family supporting, tax paying men. These men should not be required to pay higher taxes because a bunch of players don’t want to pay for their playing.

  26. BurkeanMama Says:

    Sorry late and tired, I meant 6 or 7 days a week, not hours. I meant specifically my own husband. He does sometimes have to pull 7 day shifts. He works hard he takes care of his child, he should not have to be paying for deadbeat dad’s kids.

  27. SGT Caz Says:

    As soon as I started reading this, I knew neo had been reading Men on Strike. I just read it myself. The situation is old news for plenty of men, and the conclusion I came to long ago was that marriage is over as a social institution.

    When society decided that there was no purpose for itself beyond the utilitarian welfare of its individual members, this became effectively inevitable. Conflicts of interest still arise, of course, and as always, those with the least degree of power get the short straw, in this case, the children. That’s as iron as the laws of thermodynamics anyway, but the thing that really aggravates is the constant mutating and shifting of the way the culture talks about what’s fair and what’s not in order to serve whoever can draw the most empathy.

    People are not to be held to a standard; regardless of the words that come out of their mouths, that has costs for individual welfare we feel entitled to go around. The standard is to be decided on a case by case basis in accordance with who can manipulate image with the greatest dexterity. Who can possibly find meaning in an environment with such shallow, unreliable expectations? When duty commands no respect, it ceases to exist.

  28. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Years ago in law school, I took a course on “Equity,” the old branch of English law that sought to render justice based on concepts of fairness and mercy when the ordinary legal system failed to do so. Taught by a brilliant professor, the class that I thought would be a boring examination of ancient, dusty cases with no relevance to modern life turned out to be the most lively and compelling class I ever took — a semester-long analysis of the idea of respect as the foundation of the rule of law, and of the sources of respect for the law. The old rules of equity were based on a recognition that respect for the law is essential to civil society and cannot be coerced. A free society must believe that its laws are based on fairness and underlying justice, or it will not respect them and will not follow them. In the absence of respect for the justice of our laws, the whole foundation of civil society corrodes. That’s where we are, as there is no fairness or underlying justice in laws that demand that men support children while permitting women to kill them.

  29. Steve Says:

    TMG, you are exactly right.

  30. raf Says:

    Neo, I agree that illegal abortions have always existed, but the failure of people in society to live up to an ideal does not justify denying the ideal. And I agree (I am presuming your opinion here) that discreet abortion should not ideally be criminalized (how to do this? Not sure) or at least be left to states or counties, but I wish it were still widely and officially disapproved of. The “romantic fever” fiction (plus adoption) was a better societal system, I think. The Gosnell operation does not seem all that much better than the (mostly safely performed) illegal abortions of the 50s/60s. [Similarly, euthanasia has always existed, but the fact that it has to be done surreptiously acts as a control. Legalization will lead to the same kind of unintended consequences as has unrestricted abortion.] I thought the original RvW guidelines would have been accepted if they had come as a result of legislative competition, especially if done by states, piecemeal. Imposing them by fiat did not “settle the issue” the way the SCJs assumed. Pronouncements from on high never have.

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left merely does things for entertainment (evil). It’s interesting to them to see how so many slaves, men and women, fight against the fate they have been forced with by the omnipotent powers that be.

    Meanwhile, those born to rule have stable marriages, hereditary heirs, and are happy making money stack upon money multiplying into a pillar. Money may not grow on trees, but if every time a slave cries out at the unfairness of life they get a dollar, they merely have to wait. Wait for human suffering they created to reward their investment.

    Such is the nature of the Leftist alliance. And such is why those who wish to be in conflict with it, have little chance of victory given their lack of comprehension and acceptance of evil.

  32. Mike T Says:

    Geoffrey Britain,

    It is not proper for the state to extract child support from an unmarried man. For thousands of years, unwed mothers who were not victims of rape had no legal claim upon his wealth. This was done deliberately to ensure that the choice to become an unwed mother was tied inextricably to a life of poverty and privation for the majority of women, and it worked. Unwed mothers were exceedingly rare compared to modern times because the knowledge that a cad could walk away from her during unwed pregnancy scared the heck out of most women.

    Whatever claims may exist were always moral. Society was free to shame the father, discriminate against him, disassociate, etc. It was perfectly legal for a small community to refuse to hire him, sell him goods and he had no claim to public assistance if he was dependant on someone else for housing.

    Ending child support and welfare for unwed mothers would do amazing things for ending the sexual revolution and restoring marriage. If child support were only available to formerly married mothers who divorced their husbands with a legally established cause, you’d see the divorce rate collapse and many women shape up in their sexual choices.

  33. Legion Says:

    Neo, the horse didn’t leave the barn, it was outlawed from the barn. No-fault divorce, VAWA, and mother custody of children are part of the list that has made marriage and child rearing untenable for men.

    No solution as you see? Why not simply remove those laws. Or is Team Women too important to you?

  34. Instapundit » Blog Archive » REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE: Should Men Be Allowed To Opt Out Of Child Support?… Says:

    […] REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE: Should Men Be Allowed To Opt Out Of Child Support? […]

  35. Deserttrek Says:

    No man should have to supply child support to a woman who refuses an abortion, unless they are legally married. If she can kill the unborn on a whim, then he should have equal rights. If not then there should not be any penalties.
    Equality for all.

  36. Math Guy Says:

    But there’s a strange inequality that would probably rear its head if father opt-out were allowed: what about married men? Would anyone argue that a married man should have the same choice regarding a child he conceives within that marriage as an unmarried man would have?

    What about married women? Shouldn’t they have the same right to abortion that single women do and not have to ask their husbands?

    Oh, that’s right…they not only don’t have to obtain consent but don’t even have to inform in the US as the SCUS has declared a requirement to inform a husband of an abortion is an undue burden.

    Of course, presumption of paternity for husband isn’t an undue burden on him.

    As far as opposing mandatory paternity testing, NOW holds that position: link

    “Rice-Bowen is quoted on page 29A of the Sunday Sun as saying: “We support partnerships that are based on mutual respect, trust and decency.””

    So, mutual respect, trust, and decency means “believe me it is yours” but not “I aborted your child”.

  37. Dave Says:

    This particular subject got so heated at Althouse last week that she turned off comments, calling it a “comment vacation”.

    That’s partly because Althouse’s stance on the issue is blatantly sexist. I was a twice-daily reader of Althouse’s blog for almost 5 years, but not any more.

  38. Richard W Says:

    I haven’t read the comments to this article as they seem to either be rage trolls or side conversations on abortion.

    What I would like to add is that more often than not the state is already paying to raise children. Allowing a father to opt out of child support would be unlikely to see child care costs increase. Garnishing unemployment or minimum wage for welfare isn’t saving the government any money.

    I find the prospect or relinquishing any paternal responsibilities unpleasant, but considering the current environment I definitely think it should be an option.

  39. jjv Says:

    It is amazing that the child support laws have not been struck down given the logic of the Supreme Court’s crazy rulings on family law-abortion/marriage/birth control. The fact that they haven’t shows they are acts of will not law. If abortion and birth control were not “rights” trumping all other civilizational goals a lot of this would end but it won’t.

  40. SharonW Says:

    Mike T,

    It’s as simple as Milton Friedman’s aphorism, “That which you want more of, reward.”

  41. Leonard Detweiler Says:

    Women who want to bring children to term should have the signed approval of a man that he is the father and undertakes the paying responsibility in exchange for full parental rights.

    Those that don’t get one free abortion on the taxpayers. The next time, they get an free abortion AND a mandatory fallopian tube snip on the principle of being too stupid to breed.

    And all those social ills would vanish overnight.

  42. Shoey Says:

    I’m with TMG

  43. Agesilaus Says:

    I suggest that if a women tricks a man into her getting her getting pregnant, and then tries to make him pay child support. Then the child’s custody should be handed over to the man, the woman should be liable for support, and then man should be able to put the child up for adoption.

    Problem solved. This would remove any benefit for deception.

  44. I Callahan Says:

    That’s partly because Althouse’s stance on the issue is blatantly sexist. I was a twice-daily reader of Althouse’s blog for almost 5 years, but not any more.


    I’m with you on this. Not just the fact that it was sexist, but let’s face it – she turned off comments because people seriously took her to task for it.

  45. ajwpip Says:

    The whole point of government administrated marriage was not to consummate some romantic vision of love and personal fulfillment. It was about raising children.

    Unsurprisingly, trying to re-order society around fulfilling everyone’s subjective vision of interpersonal happiness is a recipe for societal breakdown. It becomes especially incoherent when we want to still hang onto some aspects of the previous order that were “for the children” while allowing special pleading for others. Women and soon gay people get to indulge in the institution using a legal schema justified by notions of individual gratification. Straight men are not allowed such.

    This remnant of the old order is possibly better for children (although an argument can be made that it creates dysfunction in boys and huge risks for girls) but minimally men should hold those women and gay people in some contempt who desire government support for their personal happiness while rejecting government enforcement of responsibilities that come with these privileges for themselves.

    Most, or at least many, women or gay people wouldn’t need the government to enforce their responsibilities to those they either create or make commitments to – but it is sad that in the pursuit of a very Orwellian notion of equality they are happy to let those of their own genders or sexual orientation avoid the same legal obligations they demand of others. Or, are happy to grab what they can out of the destruction of the moral underpinnings of the previous social order.

    Does anyone think that after gay marriage is normalized the gay political establishment is going to address the gay population and demand the same bourgeoisie behaviors and life-styles from them that make marriage a benefit for society at large?

    A girl raised by a single mother is four times as likely to be sexually molested. In terms of costs and benefits I suspect the pursuit of individual romantic and sexual fulfillment is a very expensive good.

  46. f1b0nacc1 Says:

    Perhaps some sort of ‘male abortion’ would be in order, and I believe this is what you are talking about. A man can ‘abort’ his child (a simple paternity test can be done before this is permitted) by declaring his decision to do so (with or without the mother’s consent), and thereby ending any connection whatsoever with the child. No child support, no custody, no visitation, no nothing. No ‘best interest of the child’ backdoor to ignore his choices (after all, women don’t have this undue burden), no exceptions.

    Married men wouldn’t get this option (I would suggest that the marriage contract would qualify as implicit acceptance of the fruits of the marriage, and an exception here for a woman’s right to abort would be the ‘its her body’ argument), but mandatory paternity tests for all births would ensure that men who are cuckolded would have evidence sufficient to take appropriate action, with such children not covered by child support after divorce.

    I suspect that most marriages would go on without much change, and the propensity of men to marry would change very little, particularly if this new change (admittedly a unarried-only benefit was coupled with reforms to existing marriage laws to remove many of the unfair bias against men). Women’s behavior would change a great deal, however, as the chance of being forced to actually live with the consequences of their sexual choices would be much higher. I suspect a much higher rate of abortions (tragic, but we are heading in that direction anyway), and a much lower level of new single parents (a very good thing) over time. Keep in mind that marriage among lower-class individuals is disappearing under the current system (particularly in minority communities, but not by any means exclusively so), and this might be just the sort of thing to at least remove the collateral damage occuring to the children of those relationships.

    Would this be perfect, of course not. Would it likely generate some unintended consequences, likely. But equity is equity, and unless women are willing to give up their special privileges because they DO create unintended consequences and are not perfect in their implementation I argue that any reasonably principle of equity demands that we permit this.

    While I dont’ endorse the (rather rude) ‘Team Woman’ comments by others, I do think that at some point it is incumbent upon women who profess (I believe sincerely) to care about issues like equity to demonstrate that their concern is real even when they (as a group) must give up some freedoms in order to protect such equity. Men already do this on a regular basis, but as it becomes increasingly clear that many (not all, by any means) women do not choose to reciprocate, they will eventually do otherwise. This is the point of ‘Men on Strike’, and the implications are chilling. The men who choose to marry, for instance, do so knowing that they are giving up some freedoms, perhaps it is time to honor that choice, and at the same time to demand some reciprocal sacrifices from those on the other side of the equation?

  47. marie Says:

    This whole discussion makes me sad. I’d like a discussion that centers more around responsibilities than around rights. Arguing over who has the right to do whatever atrocious actions exposes us as supremely selfish.

  48. f1b0nacc1 Says:

    From I, Callahan:

    That’s partly because Althouse’s stance on the issue is blatantly sexist. I was a twice-daily reader of Althouse’s blog for almost 5 years, but not any more.


    I’m with you on this. Not just the fact that it was sexist, but let’s face it – she turned off comments because people seriously took her to task for it.

    I never really carred for Althouse’s patronizing attitude…loved the commentors though. She turned off the comments because she got called on some particularly condescending remarks she made, and didn’t like getting a taste of her own medicine. In fairness, some of those comments were WAY over the line, but what she said originally certainly helped provoke them..

  49. Mark S Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful article. I think you are right there aren’t any perfect answers here. The presence of a third party (the child) completely complicates it. And the state has decided (correctly in my opinion) that the child comes first. Which usually means the man ends up paying. And I think this is alright. Most mature men realize that biologically speaking a common “side-effect” of sex is pregnancy. So most mature men don’t have sex with women that they aren’t willing to have children with. I have three children with my wife, and I’m confident that is all my progeny. My wife and I decided that was enough so I got a vasectomy. Men do have a choice they simply have to make it very early in the process. (i.e. keep their pants on.) I agree it’s not terribly fair but that is what biology dictates.

    On the other hand I think paternity MUST be proven before an unwed man is required to pay child support. And I think that after a divorce if a man can prove the child isn’t his, he shouldn’t have to pay child support. I would even go further here. He should be able to recover the child support previously paid.

  50. Scott M Says:

    I’ve long argued that, at least from a legal standpoint, if pro-abortion advocates are serious about “choice” then they should allow a man to opt for a legal abortion.

    However…that being said…a thought occurs while reading the way you have framed the issue above. I’m reminded that the reason I haven’t tacked left since my 20’s is that I feel the greatest difference between liberal and conservative political decisions (in the aggregate, at least) is that liberals seem just fine and dandy with making huge, sweeping changes with little care for the unintended consequences. Being a conservative doesn’t necessarily mean holding on to the old for old’s sake. It means taking a good hard look at something that wants to the rock the boat for the sake of moving the sides back and forth to no real improvement in the situation at hand.

    Without careful consideration as to the societal effects of such a huge change in the way Americans view family law (which needs serious attention, don’t get me wrong) we wouldn’t be any better than those that rammed the ACA through in the middle of the night.

  51. SharonW Says:

    Scott M you are 100% correct.

    GK Chesterton said it was the height of hubris to look at a wall and propose tearing it down, without asking why it was erected in the first place.

    A visiting Kenyan priest celebrated Mass at our church this Saturday and as part of his homily he stated that “freedom can never exist apart from responsibility”. Our present culture has been eroding responsibility of the individual step by step and I fear our freedom will be the greatest casualty.

  52. jr565 Says:

    I was actually one of the posters on Althouse arguing this very point on Althouse before the whole comments brouhaha occured.
    And not becaus I necessarily think its a good idea. But rather because I was trying to get Althouse to see the inherent inconsistency in her argument. She instead decided to call various people betas and whiners for pointing out the inherent inequity from the whole pro choice arrangement, for men.

    But regardless, I see the same inconsistency in this post as well (though at least it’s not argued childishly like Althouse did) with the following question:
    “what about married men? Would anyone argue that a married man should have the same choice regarding a child he conceives within that marriage as an unmarried man would have?”
    Reverse that and apply it to abortion? What about married women? Would anyone argue that a married woman should have the same right to abort a child she conceives within a marriage as an unmarried woman would have? What would THAT do to a marriage?
    And yet that is the default postion of the pro choice argument, regardless of what it would do to marriage. So, then why try to rule out men’s rights to opt out of parenthood, JUST LIKE women, simply because it would impact on marriage.

  53. Kira Says:

    There is a distinct lack of real, meaningful consequence to engaging in sex without thought to the hard reality that sex makes babies.

    Compulsory sterilization as consequence of opting out of paternity, or compulsory sterilization as a consequence of having an elective, totally unnecessary abortion.

    Harvest sperm/eggs if necessary, but if you want unrestricted sex and refuse to take responsibility for the children, you need to not have the ability to have children.

  54. BC Says:

    Here’s the thing, and there really is no way around this: modern medicine has quite effectively decoupled sex from the production of offspring. Outside of some rare corner cases, the only time sex need produce a child is when the woman wants it to.

    That understood, allowing men to opt out of parental support is the feminist thing to do. The core project of feminism is to ensure that women are treated with respect and dignity equal to that of men. Treating someone with respect and dignity involves holding them accountable for the consequences of their choices. To do any less is to infantilize them.

    Thus, the message we ought to be sending our daughters is roughly as follows: it is entirely your perogative to go to bed with cads and ne’er-do-wells, but if you decide that the sex is going to result in a baby, then society is not going to lift so much as a finger to help you extract so much as a dime from a person who had no control over your choice. If you can find a willing sucker partner to share the costs of childrearing with you, that’s terrific, but otherwise, your body, your choice, your problem.

  55. CMKR Says:

    Deserttrek concludes: “Equality for all.”

    If that were possible we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The irresolvable inequality is that only women can be impregnated. In the past the burden of an unplanned pregnancy was a woman’s alone if it occurred outside of marriage. For poor women it often meant a choice between an illegal abortion or a life of poverty. The push for access to legal abortion and welfare laws to aid children were largely a reaction to this reality.

    What is being ignored is that the choice to abort is a burden for most women, despite the feminist rhetoric that abortion is just like getting your teeth cleaned. All women carry the burden of knowing that every act of sex can lead to pregnancy, and if they are not prepared for the pregnancy they may have to make a difficult choice of either abortion, adoption or raising a child alone. The burden of knowing that she alone will be responsible for making the choice of what to do with an unwanted pregnancy never goes away.

    The law has decided that abortion is a choice a woman must make on her own, because the pregnancy occurs in her body; not because she necessarily WANTS to make that choice. Men should be glad they will never be faced with making a decision of whether to abort something that is growing in their bodies. An argument can be made that it is unfair to make women make this decision, and all abortions should be illegal, and women should only have the choice to put an unwanted child up for adoption. But the problem still remains, do we absolve the men who create unwanted children of any financial responsibility for their actions, if the woman cannot bear to give up for adoption a child she is forced to carry to term, and yet she cannot afford to raise alone?

    We can’t wave a wand and get rid of the reality that people will have sex outside of marriage, and even with birth control, unexpected pregnancies will occur. To allow men to opt of financial responsibility for children they created but do not want, means the burden of unwanted pregnancies is solely on the woman again, and on the taxpayers. It you want to argue that because a women has the sole legal decision over whether a pregnancy is carried to term or aborted, that it is reasonable and fair that if she decides against abortion, that she should bear the burden of parenting alone, fine, make that argument. It has some merit, especially in cases where women trick men into fatherhood. But don’t try to pretend it is based on “equality for all” when the underlying inequality– only women can get pregnant and must decide what to do with an unplanned pregnancy– still exists.

    Some could say that requiring men to be financially responsible for children they conceive– willingly or not– equals out that inequality somewhat. A man must support the child financially for 18 years, a woman must be the primary caregiver for 18 years, if she decides to carry to term. So both must consider the ramifications of their tryst before they decide to copulate, since both have a stake in having to care for any child that arises from that act.

  56. John A. Fleming Says:

    That We the People have secured for women a nearly absolute right to their bodies in procreation is a legal choice, not a fact of life. In order to secure that right, women argued that child-bearing was a special burden; and they further argued that men have no special burdens.

    This choice started a cascade of legal unintended consequences. One of which is that we broke marriage. Another is that we have incorporated inequity into the law. Keeping that inequity guarantees civil society breakdown. Attempting to ameliorate that inequity while preserving women’s special rights will continue to generate new and unintended consequences.

    Women have put themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. They want to preserve their secured rights, preserve legal inequity, and preserve a civil society without consequences to themselves. Can’t be done. Something will have to give way. Women, to preserve your newly-secured rights, you are going to have to accept the grinding tragedy of uneducated wild children starving in the streets.

    Traditional marriage is called an institution, because it works, and the consequences are known and relatively equitable. We have abandoned the old world, and have landed in the new world at Veracruz, and the womem burned our boats. Conflict and tragedy is ahead of us.

  57. jr565 Says:

    Mike T wrote:
    For thousands of years, unwed mothers who were not victims of rape had no legal claim upon his wealth. This was done deliberately to ensure that the choice to become an unwed mother was tied inextricably to a life of poverty and privation for the majority of women, and it worked.
    And at the same time, abortions were not allowed. It would be horrible if men could walk away from their obligation to support a child if a woman had to raise it. But they don’t anymore. They have the choice to end their pregnancy simply because it’s inconvenient for them. So, then if women are operating under this principle and there is choice as to whether to even give birth, then why still hold men to the old Victorian model?

  58. f1b0nacc1 Says:


    I don’t want to speak for everyone else, but I was careful to use the word ‘equity’, rather than ‘equality’…clearly the physiological differences inherent in gender make true equality impossible in this case.

    With that said, however, I think that the point you (and several others) have made (i.e that one of the results of sex is often a child and that both men and women who engage in sex should be aware of that) misses the point. Neo’s original post discusses the asymmetries in the nature of the choices available to men and women. Women can (at this time) abort or put a child up for adoption, and in this there are few real barriers (other than their own internal concerns) to them making these choices. Men, on the other hand, have no real choices…they are completely dependent upon whatever choices that the woman makes. This is certainly not equal (nor should it be), but it is not equitable either. Basically men are told that they have responsibilities, but no choices, women get both. There is no objective reason why this must be so….I have proposed one approach (the ‘male abortion’, which I believe is quite similar to what neo was examining), and others here have provided alternatives.

    If one is really interested in an equitable application of the ‘have sex, accept the consequences’ model, then eliminating abortion and adoption would seem to be obvious choices, as it puts both men and women in positions where both choice (limited) and responsibility (considerable) are equally and equitably shared. I personally agree with neo (and I suspect you) that the nature of childbearing makes this an unacceptable option (note: I understand that many good people may hold a different view of this…we can agree to disagree), so perhaps the option of giving both genders maximized choice (at the cost of diminished responsibility) may be a workable option. Women are not trapped into being the primary caregiver…they have options, even if they choose not to avail themselves of them.

  59. Rich Vail Says:

    In America (& the UK) the only say men have in reproduction is whether or not to wear a condom. If they choose not to do so, then women have us by the balls. We have no say in the matter. This will not change in the forseable future, which is why many younger men are choosing NOT to get married…hence the recent Instawwife’s book…

  60. Puzzled Says:

    At little confused why 18 years of forced slavery of the male if he doesn’t want the child when she does (child support) is considered as ok, but a brief 9 months of pregnancy is too hard for the poor little woymn if he wants the baby but she doesn’t.

  61. Ken Says:

    As has been pointed out before, most recently in light of the gay “marriage” stuff, is that the problem with marriage is that it is not a formal written contract detailing rights and responsibilities the way pretty much everything else is. Instead, rights and responsibilities in marriages are defined by a series of ad hoc legal decisions made over time. The very problem with this is the willy nilly way these decisions have been made, as well as quick reversals that occur routinely, leaving husband and wife unsure of legally what is and isn’t expected of them. In addition to this, courts take a dim view of those who do have an explicit contract detailing all these things.

    The entire problem is the looking to the government in askance for the most untrustworthy people we can think of (politicians) to define our rights and responsibilities in our marriages. This is ridiculous and quite frankly the root of the problem. Instead of working to try to make the rules better or more equal, whatever that elastic term can mean, IS the problem. You should be working to make the courts to but out of people’s personal affairs, as well as for the courts to enforce contracts that are written and signed.

    The politicization of everything, particularly our personal and family lives (known as the culture wars), is destroying western civilization, not making it better.

  62. sideliner Says:

    Interesting take…I appreciate the effort to dig through the ins and outs of this.

    One other side issue I’ve pondered:
    If “male abortion” were, in fact, legalized, how would one address the issue of a father potentially connecting to the child later on?

    This strikes me as relevant because I work in a transplant program. When faced with possible death, most people reach out to all possible family members…even those who they have had prior rifts with. If a man were to request a “paper abortion”, and then found out that the child he cut himself off from might be able to save his life, would he really not try to reach out? Would there be some sort of penalty system built in for fathers who severed their tie then later tried to reestablish it?

    These are the issues that do not come up when the abortion ends the childs life. A woman cannot go back on that decision, but the man could.

    I’m not sure how this would inform any policies made, but I would be curious to see how those who are for this sort of policy would envision this being addressed?

  63. CMKR Says:

    @ f1b0nacc1

    @f1b0nacc1 ;

    I think there is merit to your argument. Whether women WANT the choice of abortion or not, they have it. And most will agree they are happy to have the choice to do it legally, as difficult a choice that it may be.

    There is an argument in favor of allowing single men to opt out of fatherhood, in that it will discourage irresponsible behavior on the part of single women. Yes it puts more of the burden on women to decide whether or not to copulate, but the reality is, we already have an extra burden. Allowing single men an “abortion” from fatherhood policy will drive that fact home again to a lot of unmarried women who want to pretend we are “equal” to men. Pregnancy is a woman’s special burden and gift. We cannot be resolved of that responsibility if we are to call ourselves women.

  64. f1b0nacc1 Says:


    You raise an interesting point, but one that I think can be easily addressed:

    A ‘male abortion’ could be construed as aborting a man’s rights as well as responsibilities as a father, i.e. no visitation, no custody, no rights beyond those of any other random human being on the planet. It would NOT eliminate his (the putative father’s) ability to contact the child, though this could be prevented by the choice of the mother. Hence a ‘male abortion’ would not erase the existence of the child (making the child invisible to the father, so to speak), but WOULD make any contact with that child completely at the discretion of the mother.

    To use your example. A ‘aborted’ father who needed a transplant could petition the mother for permission to contact the child, but such permission would be entirely at the mother’s discretion, which would be no different if the petitioner were a random individual off the street.

    As for a penalty system, the aborted father would be subject to the same sanctions (no more, no less) as a complete stranger who attempted to interact with a child without the permission of that child’s parents.

    Does this address your concerns?

  65. f1b0nacc1 Says:


    I believe that we agree here. More to the point, a ‘male abortion’ might also encourage women to be more selective about what sort of relationships in which they engage, as they are going to be left with the results one way or the other.

    I am reminded of an old joke, Question: Why does the boy sweat on prom night but the girl doesn’t? Answer: The girl knows how it is going to turn out. While women have a special burden (I share your views of this), they also have a special power (only they can say ‘yes’) if they choose to use it…

  66. jr565 Says:

    If a man chooses to opt out of being a dad it doesn’t prevent a mom from being a mom, nor deprive her of her choice. But the reverse doesn’t hold true.and Althouse took umbrage at the idea that men would have a problem paying for a kid they don’t want, that exists simply because the woman chose it.
    But she is ok with a woman killing her child/fetus for that same exact reason.

  67. f1b0nacc1 Says:


    Althouse also took great pleasure in rather pointless namecalling and bullying (a disagreeable habit of hers) of commenters who had the termerity to disagree with her. She seems to be unable to remember that she is not in the classroom, and these are not her students.

  68. jr565 Says:

    Remember when Dan Quayle got in trouble with the feminists for saying the following?
    “It doesn’t help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown — a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid, professional woman — mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another `lifestyle choice’. I know it is not fashionable to talk about moral values, but we need to do it. Even though our cultural leaders in Hollywood, network TV, the national newspapers routinely jeer at them, I think that most of us in this room know that some things are good, and other things are wrong. Now it’s time to make the discussion public.”
    And yet now, the feminists, like Althouse are making the exact same argument as Quayle, but only when it comes to men.
    When men opting out would simply mean that women would raise the kids they wanted as single mothers. I thought that was like, empowering and stuff.
    But, really, if you are demanding to be the sole chooser, shouldn’t you bear the responsibility of your choice, solely?
    If that means your choice makes you have to live with a child that is a financial burden that only you pay for, well then you chose unwisely.

    Note, I’m not really for a woman’s right to choose, and this would probably lead to more aboertions, which I’m against. But it would at least honor the woman’s choice, and give a man an equal choice based on convenience (and even here, not really since the woman could choose not to keep their child, depriving him of the ability to be a dad. A man could never make the choice that would mean a woman mustn’t keep her kid, or had to carry her kid to term).

  69. Mr. Krishan Says:

    Your last point, sir, where you state:

    “Marriage has fewer and fewer obvious benefits now, and a man already stands to lose a great deal in a divorce. A law like this would increase the penalty for marriage, would it not?”

    It wouldn’t change anything. People (mostly men) are FINALLY wiseing up to the fact that marriage IS a raw deal under the current system of no-fault divorce, default maternal custody, and child-support-backed-by-state-force. That is where it isn’t fair to men. What Legal Parental Surrender does is level the playing field.

    It’s a big DIS-incentive to women bearing multiple kids out of wedlock.

    It doesn’t change marriage rates at all. The foundational reason for people to get married is, first and foremost, to have children. To forge a FAMILY, wherein you have two spouses and (someday, maybe soon, maybe later) a few little ones.

    LPS doesn’t change that. What it does is to free men to have the same parental rights and obligations as women. Right now, they’re slaves to her whim.

  70. Roberto Says:

    I like how this article is basicaly an admission that marriage is an awful deal for men.

  71. jr565 Says:

    Here’s my suggestion as to how it would work- a man could have a contract with a woman where he states, prior to the child being born, that he will not be a father, and waives his parental rights. And he could cite financial hardship or his career as to why he won’t contribute to a baby’s future. So, it would simply be one more consideration a woman would have in whether to keep her child or abort it. Ad you could even argue that the choice was only valise up to the 2nd trimester. In other words, once a woman can no longer choose, then neither can a man.
    And for those cases where a man isn’t told about a pregnancy until after a child was born he would have to pay child support, but the woman would have to pay a penalty to him which was the equivalent of the child support he would have had to pay during the time she didn’t tell him plus pain and suffering. plus he would get primary custody, if he wanted it, for the duration of the time it took her to notify him that he was a dad, plus a few years for pain and suffering.

  72. f1b0nacc1 Says:


    I am reminded of the move “As Good as it Gets”, where when asked how he managed to write such believeable women characters, Jack Nicholson replied, “I start with men, and simply take away reason and accountability”

  73. Asking the wrong question. | Dalrock Says:

    […] Dr. Helen links to a blog post by Neo-Neocon titled: Should men* be allowed to opt out of child support? […]

  74. CMKR Says:

    I am reminded of the move “As Good as it Gets”, where when asked how he managed to write such believeable women characters, Jack Nicholson replied, “I start with men, and simply take away reason and accountability”

    My two cents:
    These type of jokes are not conducive to a civil discussion between men and women on this topic. It can lead to push-back of the sort that Althouse engaged in.

    And then all hell breaks loose…

  75. Patr Says:

    TMG makes some very good points.

  76. f1b0nacc1 Says:


    I certainly did NOT mean to offend, and if I did, I apologize for doing so

  77. empathologism Says:

    Wouldn’t it be unconscionable if married men could voluntarily relinquish rights (and duties) to their own children and remain married?

    It would also be unconscionable if married men spent their free time levitating over their back yards, but since neither levitation nor relinquishing rights and duties (regarding financial matters which is the presumed topic) are even possible, the point is not just moot, it’s stupid.

    Fixing child support and custody laws would have the terrible effect of making marriages more permanent.

  78. Chester White Says:

    “(Let’s simplify things a tiny bit by leaving out those special and complex cases in which a married man has been forced to support a child not biologically his, which does unfortunately happen at times). ”

    This happens more than you seem to think.

    Few men find out, as they trust their wives and never get the child DNA-tested. Or maybe they don’t want to know the truth. It may not be “forced,” but it is not uncommon.

  79. Orthodox Says:

    If you have a child together, the state requires you to marry. If you don’t marry, kiss your benefits good-bye. Yes, it let’s men out, but the law says it’s the mother’s right to choose.

    If a woman wants a divorce, she has to leave the family (and home) and provide support to the man and the children, unless the man relinquishes his right. Same if the man wishes to leave the family, the mother and child stay behind in the home and he must provide support.

  80. jr565 Says:

    “Wouldn’t it be unconscionable if married men could voluntarily relinquish rights (and duties) to their own children and remain married?”

    But that’s exactly what women do when they have an abortion. Ad they don’t even have to tell their husband about it. And even if he is on bended knees begging her not to end the pregnancy she could essentially tell him to go f himself.

  81. CMKR Says:


    (I appreciate that f1bOnacc1. No need to apologize! I understand it was meant humorously, but jokes like that, seen often enough, can start to leave a mark on some people. I don’t want to clutter this thread, so I’ll say no more! Take care.)

  82. Edge of the sandbox Says:

    Men can opt out of fatherhood; it’s called celibacy. Failing that, they have option of taking care of contraception. After all, if they leave it up the women to take responsibility not to get pregnant, men should realize that they grant their girlfriends the feedom to do as they wilt when it comes to family planning.
    Other than that — tough. There is no reason why society should be providing men with consequence free sex (ditto women). As far as women behaving more responsibly, I’m on board. Husband’s permission, for instance, should absolutely be required for an abortion.
    If men don’t want to be a part of their children’s lives, that can be arranged. They can’t be legally required to change diapers or take the little ones to ball games. They should, however, provide for them.

  83. Edge of the sandbox Says:

    One more thing: society is only interested in men marrying in as much as the institution of marriage compels them to take care of their children.

  84. K-Man Says:

    Great essay and excellent responses.

    This whole debate within society is about to get uglier: researchers are looking very hard for genetic markers for autism spectrum disorders, and once pregnancy testing is available for such markers in the not-too-distant future, look for abortion rates to skyrocket. After all, autism numbers have exploded for reasons no one is sure of, but everyone who has been exposed to children on the spectrum knows they often are real burdens and pose real problems.

    With abortion rates rising after autism testing in the womb is available, we will see more extremism on both sides about whether to abort and possibilities of legally preventing abortion of such a fetus. The present bioethics among health care providers that favors universal termination after finding that a fetus will have Down’s syndrome will extend to fetuses found to have autism markers, placing pressure on mothers to abort. Some fathers who realize that their support obligation for an autistic child would be for life, not just 18 years, will seek legal means of preventing this burden—”paper abortion” or whatever.

    Watch this debate once these events become reality. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  85. Deoxy Says:

    Your post is supposed to be a reasonable attempt at this, and I believe you are acting in good faith.

    However, you left out or hand-waved as irrelevantly small several important points:

    -Men have strict liability for their sperm. It ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT MATTER how a woman gets your sperm – court cases have, 100%, left no “out” for a man. RAPE, THEFT, you name it. Yes, even STATUTORY RAPE. She gets your sperm, you are liable for 18 years of child support. DONE.

    (OK, there is the exception for physician-assisted, state-endorsed sperm donation, but miss either of those 2 hoops, and the exception is withdrawn.)

    -Men have near strict liability for children a women has while he is married to her. There have been a few exceptions (that situation appears to be improving, very slightly), but not many – if you’re married to her, you pay for the children. In fact, there are even well documented cases where the ex-husband loses custody and parental rights, because the child isn’t his… but still pays child support! Which leads to…

    -Responsibility vs authority. The previous example is merely the most obvious and egregious version of this, but, by and large, men pay child support REGARDLESS of how much say they have in raising the child, even when they want it. In fact, even when they want custody and are fully denied it, they still have to pay. Which leads to…

    -Women own the children. Yes, it’s getting SLIGHTLY better, but go watch Liar Liar for a great (even if fictional) example: “You haven’t paid for them yet!” I know a couple where even my wife had to admit that, if the husband had done the stuff the wife had done, he would barely have visitation rights, but she got equal (50-50) custody instead. And we doubted her SANITY after the stuff she had done. Own the children and pay for them yourself, or get child support and share authority.

    You want some kind of equity? Start with those. They’re not “give and take”, or “balancing”, or anything. Obvious, wrong, completely one-sided, and easy to fix (well, in law, if not in attitude).

  86. Fitz Says:

    How is it that black men seem to have no problem dumping their “responsibilities” on society?

    I saw a figure the other day claiming 68% of black mothers are single parents.

    As near as I can tell, these black guys disappear without consequence.

    As others in the thread have noted, the inequities will eventually yield results the feministas will abhor, and I for one am looking forward to women getting what they deserve.

  87. Leo Says:

    This is the endgame of feminism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5OdQGbVNa4

  88. david Says:

    I personally believe that supporting your child is without question. I also believe that child support is a slave law. You can use rationalizations to try and justify it but its fact. It’s another system manipulated in the favor of women that live off the system,call me a liar if you will but take away mandatory child support and see what happens . I’d bet the adoption agencies would be overwhelmed.

  89. dustydog Says:

    Paternal responsibility should be opt-in. If the mother did not get a signed statement from him promising child support, there should be no expectation of child support.

    If getting someone drunk to have sex with them is rape, then plenty of women are rapists. Juries should be blinded to the sex of the victim and allegedly rapist. Gender is prejudicial.

  90. Alec Rawls Says:

    18 years ago I offered a different suggestion: cut child-support payments in half for children born out of wedlock.

    Neo’s opt-out suggestion would bring men closer to equality with the present standard for women (who face NO un-consented-to obligations) than my proposal does, and for that reason is even less likely to ever be adopted in our anti-male culture.

    Would opt-out provide a better balance between the needs of children and the liberty interests of adults? Probably not, as it gives a free pass to men who like the idea of having lots of children they take no responsibility for.

  91. Edge of the sandbox Says:

    Exactly, consequences to society are horrible.

  92. SouthFla Says:

    There is a solution: All children at birth belong to the state. Those who want to support and raise the child then have to opt-in. The biological parents get the first choice for opting in. Perhaps they even have to qualify by demonstrating an ability to care for the child. If the biological parents refuse, or don’t qualify, then other adults could opt-in. If no adults opt-in, then the state is responsible for the child. Except for the right to abort, from that point on we’re all equal with regard to rights and responsibilities towards children and we’re assured someone will be taking care of the kids. Absurd? Maybe, but maybe not.

  93. BC Says:

    After all, if they leave it up the women to take responsibility not to get pregnant, men should realize that they grant their girlfriends the feedom to do as they wilt when it comes to family planning.

    I’d really, sincerely, like to see you justify this claim logically given the current social and medical milieu.

    Ordinarily, the imposition of legal liability on someone is fault-based: that is, when someone fails to act with a reasonable degree of care, we hold them financially responsible for the ordinary, natural, foreseeable consequences of their actions. Is relying on a woman’s assurances that she’s using contraception, and/or doesn’t want a tryst to result in kids, unreasonable? And given the ubiquity of effective contraception, and ready access of abortion services to women, can children truly be said to be the ordinary, natural, foreseeable consequence of any and every roll in the hay?

    If the answers to both those questions is ‘no’ — and it manifestly is — then on what grounds can you possibly demand that men who don’t want to be financially indentured should either stay celibate or, presumably, get a vasectomy?

  94. MDT Says:

    A point to consider is that the female right to abjure parenthood extends beyond pregnancy. All 50 states now have “safe surrender” or “safe haven” laws, by which a mother can drop off her infant, no names taken and no questions asked. Her responsibility for her child stops there.

    It is reasonable for the law to distinguish between male and female rights when one of the potential parents is pregnant and one is not. It is *not* reasonable to distinguish between them when the baby is born and there is no pregnancy. At that point, the mother and the father are equally responsible for their child. Except that she can choose to drop it at the nearest fire station and wash her hands of it; whereas he can do no such thing.

  95. Carl Pham Says:

    You do realize, I hope, that humanity existed for some 40,000 years with workable solutions to all these things? And that it was only the meddling with those evil traditional solutions in search of individual freedoms (from responsibility, mostly) that caused the conundra in the first place? This is worth some thought, cf. Chesterton’s Gate.

    For example, it seems likely that your proposal that men be permitted to opt out of child support for a child they did not wish to support *would* result in far fewer “single” mothers. How do we know? Because that was the situation for most of recorded history. You will find no alimony and child-support laws among Cro-Magnons, nor in Babylonia circa 2500 BC, just as you will find no rights for a man to compel a woman to bear or abort a child. That was how the responsibility and power was parceled out, to balance: yes, you the woman, it’s YOUR body, so YOU get to decide, all by yourself, whether this child is born or not. But, in exchange, HE gets to decide, all by himself, whether to recognize it as his own and rear it and support it.

    Motivation for the man: if you want to save your unborn child’s life, you had better have a good arrangement with the woman. Your offspring is utterly at her mercy.

    Motivation for the woman: if you want not to be saddled with child-rearing entirely alone, you better have a good arrangement with the man. Your and your offspring’s social status and material comfort are utterly at his mercy.

    People respond to incentives. If, as you say, your goal is to have every child born to parents who can do business with each other — love and honor is asking too much, we’ll get that after the Second Coming or extreme eugenics, not before — then you need incentives that put very high personal premiums on that. You need to tell the man: your child is going to DIE if you put it into the wrong woman, or won’t come to some kind of reasonable arrangement with her. You need to tell the woman: your child, and perhaps you yourself, are going to be POOR if you allow yourself to be impregnated by the wrong man, or can’t come to some kind of reasonable arrangement with him.

    But when you screw with that — when you purge motivational structures that existed for millenia because you are sure, in your overweening confidence, you can do better, just by sitting down and thinking really hard about it for an hour or two, than 2000 generations of your ape ancestors — well, do not be surprised if the Law of Unexpected Consequences bites you on the ass.

    Here’s the thing: a good marriage and good parenting are freaking *hard*. They suck up much of your life’s energy, and the returns never seem proportionate to the costs. You will routinely feel you are giving more than you get, will feel you are carrying an unfair burden. Human beings have a bottomless capacity for self-pity and feeling like a victim.

    So we have, like boundless optimists everywhere thinking the latest fad diet will just nullify the painful “to lose weight, eat less and exercise more” canon — attempted to find some no-pain all-the-gain replacement for that ancient but difficult bargain. We thrash around trying to find something that will make everyone think marriage and parenthood are some kind of easy-peasy labor, or joyful immediately. We maunder on about rights and never talk about duties, and then wonder why the *satisfaction* our ancestors enjoyed, after a lifetime of duties well executed, doesn’t fall into our laps. Don’t we have a right to be happy? To control our own destiny, make our own choices?

    Well, yes, we do. But when we take such a purely individualistic (not to say narcissistic) philosophical viewpoint, cold reality tells us we also must give up any hope of genuine satisfaction and fulfillment in those things that can *only* be achieved by working together. Among those things, unfortunately, are marriage and child-rearing.

    And here’s another problem: when we debate fair joint solutions, between the sexes, between the generations, between political ideologies, we have been seduced by the fantasy that working compromise that ends up “win-win”, in the long run, will be known by the fact that it feel like that in the short run. Well, it doesn’t. The compromise between the sexes, say, that actually works in the long run is going to *feel* right now to women like an absurd and unnnecessary concession to male vanity and pigheadedness. And to men it is going to *feel* right now like an absurd and unnecessary concession to female narcissism and stupidity.

    That is, to find the working compromise, there’s very little point in searching among the solutions we each find congenial, or sensible. We have to search among those we find *unreasonable* and obnoxious, for the one that is minimally annoying but maximally satisfying to the other side. Men, what solution would leave you shaking your head at the craziness of women, but be I guess if we must OK? Women, what solution would leave you shaking your head at the idiocy of men, but be I guess if we must OK? That’s the category of plausible solutions. Anything that makes either sex happy and feeling like the world is a just and reaosnable place is almost by definition unworkable in the long run.

  96. christopher hubbard Says:

    well said neo! it’s fraught with unintended consequences every which way including sunday. i think the likely outcome of all of this; going all the way back to no-fault divorce, contraception, griswold, roe, the sexual revolution, same-sex marriage, etc. and what comes after is EXACTLY what you said near the bottom . . . that mostly the committed religious will marry and have traditional families with kids (and remain so) and that most other folks, the non-committed and certainly the secular will have a series of ever-changing relationships that result in unstable homes, families and fewer kids. spot on!

  97. CMKR Says:

    SouthFLA says:
    Absurd? Maybe, but maybe not.

    You have a point; that’s where our society is heading, more sexual freedoms coupled with less personal responsibility means more state intervention in the form of laws to protect us and the bastards we create from our irresponsible behavior.

    The bottom line is that when it comes to out-of-wedlock births, women are shirking most of the responsibility, since we women HAVE more responsibility– it is women who were given the burden/gift of bearing children. If we expect men to be willing to provide for the children we bear, we need to show we deserve such respect, by acting responsibly in the role nature conferred on us. An unmarried woman who engages in careless promiscuous sex knowing that it will likely lead to an unplanned pregnancy at some point, or who decides to get pregnant w/o making that choice clear to the man she is bedding, and expects others to pay for her choices, is being irresponsible with the gift/burden that is unique to women.

    Women will always bear the burden of having to decide what to do in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, and neither birth control nor abortion on demand will relieve us of that burden. Our current legal system makes men bear part of that burden by making them responsible for any child they conceive, whether they were involved in the decision to conceive the child or not. Most men have gone along because they want to do the responsible thing; but I agree that they shouldn’t be expected to if they are being taken advantage of.

    MDT says:
    Except that she can choose to drop it at the nearest fire station and wash her hands of it; whereas he can do no such thing.

    This is a perfect example of how men are being taken advantage of. They are legally expected to be more responsible than women.

    Since women are showing that they cannot be trusted to act responsibly with this gift/burden of pregnancy, then I agree we should let men opt out of responsibility for parenthood outside of a marriage or other legal contract. This will encourage responsible behavior on the part of women, and not reward irresponsible behavior. The burden of preventing pregnancy should be on the unmarried woman because it is ALREADY on her, since SHE will get pregnant if SHE is not careful. Of course this may mean that tax payers will bear more burden for bastards born from poor women– we can’t let these children starve– and abortion rates may go up, but there will always be a price to pay for irresponsible sexual behavior on the part of men and women; the question is always who pays it.

    I don’t completely absolve men of the role they play in conceiving an illegitimate child- men too have a choice to keep it zipped. But if they are not married or engaged to the women they bed, the man has made no promise of fatherhood or partnership to a woman, and it is unfair that a woman can legally expect it of him; not while she has a choice to become a parent or not– through abortion, abandonment or adoption laws– and he has no legal say in whether or not he wants to become a parent should a woman decide not to abort. However, if abortion is ever made illegal again, my stance would change; I would expect men to be financially responsible for any child a woman is forced to bring to term if she decides to not put it up for adoption, since she no longer has an option to terminate an unplanned pregnancy.

  98. BillD Says:

    I’ll take Ms. neo-neocon at her word when she insists (as she does in her comments) that what she’s writing isn’t an advocacy piece, but an honest reflection on the notion of parity in male and female reproductive rights. But, even if that’s true, it makes the blind spots in her analysis all the more striking in the extent that they assume female supremacy.

    She assumes women’s greater authority in the decision to have or not have children is an inherent state of nature, a “sad fact of life”, rather than what it is – a particular political and legal order that assigns women decision making power and men responsibility for those decisions.

    In questioning whether a father could force a mother to carry a pregnancy to term or have an abortion, she insists that the outcome would be “terrible” and ceases the line of inquiry there. Yet, she offers no such inquiry-breaking claim with regard to the consequences of having a man held responsible for said child despite his wishes.

    She argues that society has an interest in holding fathers responsible for the financial cost of the child, yet evades the very possibility of holding mothers responsible for this cost.

    She draws the example of married men “opting out” of child support (odd in that the simple solution of making opt out cease at the time of birth is overlooked) but gives no consideration to the fact that married women have precisely this recourse under the claim of her body, her choice.

    She claims that drawing a distinction between married and unmarried men would disincentivize marriage, yet even after recognizing the host of other marriage disincentives for men, her only answer is to disincentivize non-marriage for men, rather than remove the disincentives.

    In the name of “simplifying things” she totally dismisses all of the considerations that paternity fraud raise for her discussion.

    I’m not trying to “trash” neo-neocon. But, her “facts of life” inevitably seem to boil down to the supremacy of women’s interests and dismissal of the man’s.

  99. I Callahan Says:


    Good to see you over here.

    Anyway, Dan Quayle was right, in the long run, wasn’t he? He was laughed off the stage, but the guy was dead-on.

  100. neo-neocon Says:

    I Callahan:

    I wrote a previous post defending those remarks of Dan Quayle’s, here.

  101. Edge of the sandbox Says:

    I’m not interested in perfect sex equality. Sexes are not the same and it’s not possible. While very few mothers will give up their children, many more men will abdicate fatherhood.
    But this is a red herring. If women assume full responsibility for contraception, women are granted freedom to do as they please with it. And, ummm… Is it hard to bring a condom?

  102. Ymarsakar Says:

    Well, looking at it from a traditional perspective:

    1. Women were raised to support their husband and their husband’s business/politics/war making.

    2. Thus a wife and husband were always each other’s allies, whether against their own extended family or against the world.

    3. Support meant to provide the logistics and emotional relaxation, much the same between civilian night life and military front line combat duties. Thus the husband takes the front, bears the risks and the dangers, and is demanded proof of courage and duty. In turn, the wife raises the children and takes care of the home (property).

    This system mirrors a dual monarchy, such as the Spartans had at Thermopylae. Some societies are more paternal, some more maternal. Others, like American frontiers and Celtic foundations, were more balanced.

    The man holds military might and the decisions of the head, whereas the woman held the future and the stability of current logistics. No war, political, or economic endeavour would survive without future investment and current logistics.

    The Leftist alliance has always had problems corrupting the former, but little problem in corrupting the latter. So they focused their efforts in where it got them the most good: the women, the children, and the various generations of blacks they wanted to enslave.

  103. Ymarsakar Says:

    Women are not granted freedom.. of any sort under the Left.

    That’s merely an illusion that greater society eats up as if it was chocolate cake. They have no idea.

  104. New support for men’s right to choose? | TeeJaw Blog Says:

    […] From Neo Neocon: […]

  105. Old School Conservative Says:

    A true liberal, and a highly intelligent politician (no, they are not mutually exclusive) Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote extensively on this very subject 35 years ago. Sen. Moynihan’s conclusions that the death of the traditional nuclear family and growth of single parent homes would eventually destroy our society have come true with a vengeance. I weep for the future of this country.

  106. SharonW Says:

    So glad I took the time to read Carl Pham’s long comment. If only a majority of the priests in the Catholic church understood the truth therein, maybe the laity would have a clue about why the standards exist, and what happens when they are not only ignored but purposely undermined.

    I refer to our culture as a “post-10 commandment” culture. In former times, even those that didn’t actively embrace those principles, knew what stealing was, and adultery and so forth. Not so today. I always feel for the next generation that is clued in.

  107. holmes Says:

    This was linked by Dr. Helen, so it really took off! Good job!


    Here is one blogger’s response linked by Instapundit.

  108. holmes Says:

    As a contracts professor I had once put it, “What happens to the market for sex (and thus children)outside of marriage if women are forced to bear the burden of it entirely?” Shrinkage.

    But as to what to do after marriage, no-fault divorce which still puts the fault of financial liability on men entirely is immoral. Either it’s faultless and therefore lacks liability or there is fault and liability assigned. It can’t be a legal system that does both.

  109. BC Says:


    Biological equality is (self-evidently) impossible. How you imagine this to preclude any kind of legal equality — approximate parity of rights and responsibilities vis-a-vis potential offspring, given the biological differences between men and women — is beyond me.

    As to your contention that allowing a woman to take responsibility for contraception is implicit and irrevocable consent to any reproductive decision (with all the attendant financial consequences) she might make, you’ve still failed to supply an argument as to why that should be so. No, it’s not hard to bring along a condom. But neither is it unreasonable to rely on a woman’s assurances that she’s on the pill and doesn’t want kids (indeed, we’ve arrived at a point in history where effective contraception is so ubiquitous that its routine use among women of childbearing age is the rule, not the exception). Doing so doesn’t make one a “splooge stooge” in the juvenile Althousian vernacular, and shouldn’t give a woman license to financially indenture her partner for eighteen years.

  110. Cassandra Says:

    No, it’s not hard to bring along a condom.

    And yet you seem unwilling to hold men accountable for such a basic precaution – one that protects against STDs, too. Why?

    But neither is it unreasonable to rely on a woman’s assurances that she’s on the pill and doesn’t want kids (indeed, we’ve arrived at a point in history where effective contraception is so ubiquitous that its routine use among women of childbearing age is the rule, not the exception).

    Apparently it is unreasonable, if we are to believe that large numbers of women can’t be trusted :p You can’t have this both ways.

    For adults, having sex involves a two-way, non delegatable responsibility to use birth control. Given the entirely predictable consequences of failing to do so (an innocent life is created, with all that entails), surely this is the least we should expect of grown ups?

    And yes, I include women in that. And I don’t illogically exclude men.

  111. Shoey Says:

    Carl Pham’s post is both epic and 100% accurate.

  112. Deoxy Says:

    @Cassandra – there are men who have physical difficulty maintaining ‘readiness’ while using a condom. All other male options are permanent (and have a significant failure rate, to boot).

    A high-success rate male birth control pill (or even a subcutaneous solution) would seriously change the equation.

    And yes, Carl Pham’s post was brilliant in it’s simplicity and honesty. This part in particular summed up the current situation well:

    But when you screw with that — when you purge motivational structures that existed for millenia because you are sure, in your overweening confidence, you can do better, just by sitting down and thinking really hard about it for an hour or two, than 2000 generations of your ape ancestors — well, do not be surprised if the Law of Unexpected Consequences bites you on the ass.

    only I think “bites you on the ass” is quite mild compared to what we are experiencing.

  113. Jay Says:

    As a divorced man paying child support, may I point out: If a man was not required to pay child support under whatever circumstances, that would not necessarily mean that he was not helping to raise and support the child. He might spend just as much or more money on the child, it would just be that HE would be deciding how the money was spent instead of the mother. Since my divorce I have spent considerable amounts of money on my children beyond what I am required to pay in child support: I paid 100% of medical expenses even though I was not legally required to do so, I regularly bought them clothes and school supplies, of course I bought them presents for Christmas and birthdays, I paid for car insurance, etc. I’m sure that many men spend money on their children over and above court-ordered child support, and if a man didn’t have to pay child support, I’m sure many men would still be paying many of the expenses that that money presently goes to.

  114. BC Says:

    And yet you seem unwilling to hold men accountable for such a basic precaution – one that protects against STDs, too. Why?

    I’m unwilling to condemn a man to eighteen years of financial servitude for reasonably relying on his partner’s assurances that he doesn’t need to use a condom, when it’s entirely up to her whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. That’s the precise extent of my “unwillingness to hold men accountable” — STDs are an entirely different kettle of fish — so kindly fold your sanctimony up until it’s all sharp corners and cram it up your fourth point of contact.

    Apparently it is unreasonable, if we are to believe that large numbers of women can’t be trusted :p You can’t have this both ways.

    Who said anything about large numbers of women? It doesn’t take more than one for outrageous injustice to result. Wanting to give men a remedy, to avoid their being financially ruined to support a child they did not want and had no reasonable expectation of fathering, is not trying to have things both ways: it’s acknowledging that, out in the real world, sometimes men are victimized by women who lie or change their minds after the fact.

  115. neo-neocon Says:


    I have no problem with the idea that a man should be able to rely on a woman’s word that she is taking the pill and is therefore protected against pregnancy, and there should be some sort of penalty for what she has done if she has lied to him about it.

    However, there is a serious problem with exempting him from having to pay child support as a remedy. The child would be the one to suffer (in many cases, at least, particularly if the mother doesn’t have a decent income herself). The child is the innocent victim here. Or, if welfare is involved, all taxpayers are the victims.

    The other problem (and this one may not be insurmountable) is a problem of proof. Most of these cases, I would imagine, would be inherently difficult or nearly impossible to prove, unless the couple had had their conversation about birth control in a public place, or in front of third parties, or conducted it by email or in some other documented manner.

    But if objective proof does exist of the deception, perhaps the man could have some sort of cause of action against the mother, however (as opposed to not paying child support). Not sure what the charge would be, though: breach of contract, perhaps?

    The problems are easier to see and describe than the solutions.

  116. BC Says:


    However, there is a serious problem with exempting him from having to pay child support as a remedy. The child would be the one to suffer (in many cases, at least, particularly if the mother doesn’t have a decent income herself).

    I actually regard this as a positive outcome, not a serious problem. It helps align incentives, as per Carl Pham’s excellent post above.

  117. OldDog Says:

    Too Late, but…

    The original purpose of marriage was the determination of paternity via monogamy.

    It’s the loss of that purpose that creates all the unintended consequences you are working thru in your post. In the past the woman had a choice, but if that choice included sex outside of marriage there was a penalty in that she could not call upon the fathers resources to help raise the child. In return, paternity within marriage created the requirement that fathers support their children, and have other rights and responsibilities surrounding paternity as well. We’ve screwed that up over the last forty years, but never bothered to update the laws to reflect the new social reality.

    But if you are considering the possibilities of what would be fair under a revised law, I still believe that rights and responsibilities of paternity in marriage should be treated very differently than paternity outside of marriage. This would boost the attractiveness of procreation within marriage relative to procreation outside of marriage to men and women alike. The Father gets rights to his children on an even level with the mother within marriage in return for an obligation to support them, while on the flip side the Mother has exclusive rights to her children if born outside of marriage, but without the ability to make the Father responsible.

    Now… think about surrogacy in a gay marriage… sigh

  118. neo-neocon Says:

    Old Dog:

    Actually, there were quite a few “original” purposes of marriage, depending on time and culture (we are not sure when it first originated, but certainly it is of great great antiquity).

    Unless sequestering of women goes along with marriage (as in some Muslim countries, for example), there is no way to guarantee monogamy of women. Nor was there a way to prove paternity until recently. Men had to take women’s faithfulness (and the paternity of their children) on faith, unless the wife had no way to get outside the house, and unless women were kept from men in general. There were many societies in which that was done, in order to make sure of paternity.

    In Western society, unmarried girls were often chaperoned, but I don’t think married women were (although their ability to get around was generally far far more restricted than it is today).

    I doubt many people are suggesting we return to that.

    Other “original” purposes of marriage tended to be familial (uniting different extended families or tribes) and especially economic. Each person (wife and husband) had essential tasks to perform for each other and for the children and the family that made marriage attractive and even somewhat of an economic necessity for both.

    That horse has pretty much left the barn as well.

  119. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Many good comments. The debate will rage until society remembers that the children are our heirs or our society withers and dies. Without the children being raised properly, (Both husband and wife taking responsibility) the society eventually passes on.

    neo said, ” Each person (wife and husband) had essential tasks to perform for each other and for the children and the family that made marriage attractive and even somewhat of an economic necessity for both.

    That horse has pretty much left the barn as well.”

    Yes, it has and is society better for it? My answer: No!

  120. Ymarsakar Says:

    I prefer to destroy society’s ability to enforce decrees and government’s ability to coerce groups of people into doing things first. Then the problems between individuals can be fixed, normally by the individuals involved.

    So long as one or the other party can call upon a “divine” and overwhelming power to dictate that one side loses and the other wins, there’s no point for direct negotiations. No negotiations=unfairness.

    Having the courts rule against one party or for another, while paying lawyers the money they use to fund the Leftist war chest, is basically a declaration that the individuals involved are children. That there needs to be an authority to determine where their life should lead and how they will obtain happiness.

  121. Ymarsakar Says:

    Redistribute the wealth in order to make things more socially just?

    How about we REDISTRIBUTE the Power first, eh?

    The lawyers that then become judges, have a little bit too much power over in aristo land by my judgment.

  122. vascularity777 Says:

    Women getting custody has resulted in a societal mess with drugs and gangs and teen pregnancy. I say we do it according to the Old Testament and change the law so fathers get full custody if a divorce occurs. Then the children would at least be better off. Women would just have to grow up!

  123. neo-neocon Says:


    Hey, what a great idea! That’ll teach ’em. I think we should stone adulterers, too, don’t you?

    I can only hope your comment was some sort of attempt at humor. But somehow I doubt it.

  124. greyghost Says:

    You still need to learn the actual nature of women and why we are in this mess we are in today. Any change in this issue towards a solution will never come from women. no amount of debate or logic will change that. What is needed is to remove women entirely from the loop. Gandarusa is a plant based male non hormonal birth control pill from Indonesia. Something like that and making men aware or it will be far more productive towards answering your question. Men will just decide with who, when and under what conditions they will be in. Only a woman a man deems as worthy of giving his life for will be a mother to his child under the current no rights for fathers family law we have now. You want to see the nature of women post a question on how a woman would let a man on birth control know she can trust her. Or ask women about paternity testing before any man can be legally responsible as a father at any time during the life of the child or at such time he goes from a father to an ATM when his non rights to his child are to be removed. Women including women in legislative will argue for the right of a woman to deceive.
    Knowing and understanding these things as normal for a woman and not some bad thing is called being on the “Red Pill” Once your eyes are open to the truth everything in life becomes clear and especially the bible. It will also explain how special you are and why you’re drawn to what you say is neocon.

  125. neo-neocon Says:


    Another humorist, I see.

    I daresay I know a bit more about the “actual nature of women” than you might think. Not only have a worked with countless women, not only are some of my best friends women :-), but some of less-than-best-friends are, too, and I am a woman myself.

    Maybe it’s time to change my photo in the upper right hand corner if it doesn’t adequately convey that idea.

  126. Anon66 Says:

    The idea that the current system is “in the best interest of the children” is short sighted, obnoxious and self serving. The people who the current system is the in the best interest of are women and those in the divorce and child service industries, who, not coincidently, are the big supporters of the status quo.

    When I was young my mother divorced my father because she was not happy. Despite initiating the divorce she of course got my father kicked out of the house, and received child support and alimony. This left my brother and I to grow up as latch key kids in a fatherless home with little male guidance and left my father angry and resentful for sending a large portion of his paycheck to his ex who still got to live in the family home.

    It left both my brother and I extremely wary of marrying and starting our own families. This wariness, which many men have, undermines family formation which in turns undermines society. This is definitely not in the best interest of children.

    What would be in the best interest of children would be for single motherhood not to be rewarded in order to reduce its prevalence. To balance the field men should have equal rights to women on these issues. That means the ability to abort and it means presumed joint custody whether the parents are married or not.

    Neo-neocon, Althouse, and many other female writers show that it is a myth that women have more empathy than men. Simply put these women cannot become cuckolded, they cannot be forced to have a child against their will, they assume, correctly, that in a custody situation they will be viewed as the legitimate parent and the father as an interloper and therefore they cannot relate to the man’s side in these situations. Thus you see them support objectively discriminatory practices against men with flimsy rationale. It seems to be too much to ask women to view men as full humans deserving the same rights that they enjoy.

  127. Should men* be allowed to opt out of child support? | familyinnocence Says:

    […] http://neoneocon.com/2013/07/09/should-men-be-allowed-to-opt-out-of-child-support/ […]

  128. greyghost Says:

    Thanks for the reply neo-neocon. Based on your response you are going to have a gina tingling time with the fellas from the manosphere. check this site here to add to your knowledge base http://heartiste.wordpress.com/ a few months there and you will be on it.
    Btw I do have a good sense of humor and it seems you have noticed that too. I saw you where a woman in the photo you already have. I was more interested in what you had to say than whatn you looked like, if you want to put up something sexy for us new guys that is fine with me. You were linked up on Dalrock so you will have a new bunch of people seeing your blog.

  129. Edge of the sandbox Says:

    To accept Carl Pham’s proposal we as a society must be ok with a very high abortion rate. Many women would abort under these conditions, and many men will not care.
    I suppose it’s not nice to lie about birth control. On the other hand, it’s also not nice to lie about starting family with a cohabiting partner. Love is a battlefield, or something like that.
    When a man and a woman sleep together, pregnancy may ensure. I realize that some people, like the small minority of men unable to use condoms, may find it especially difficult to navigate consequences of sexual activity. However, they are no more entitled to consequence-free sex than anyone else. It’s not in society’s interest to provide it for them.
    Our legal system recognizes that men and women are different. You see it in how custody is awarded.

  130. SncksDrgnfl Says:

    Here’s an idea on child support. The obligor should pay the obligee the amount of money the obligor was making at the time of conception, not to exceed the amounts already in place in state law. That levels the playing field.
    I say this because my husband (and I after we got married) had his biological children for three years. His wife walked out, and never even tried to get the kids in the divorce. After our marriage, we had to find a bigger house (I have three children as well), and we searched for 8 months in the area we lived to no avail. We had to move into a different county, and at that time she decided she wanted the kids. She had been ordered to pay my husband $100.00a month (far less than what the minimum would have been for two kids) in child support, which she never paid until this hearing and was found in contempt.
    Long story short, she convinced the kids to stay (buying them vehicles etc.) and now we pay her almost $900.00 a month and all insurance for them. We almost lost our house, my kids have to make their lunches for school because we cannot spend 90.00 a month on school lunches, and any extra activities for them are out of the question, tho we tripled what she claimed in court to have made a month. Now my husband has to work out of town (I have a full time job too) just to make ends meet because we are now supporting HER not the kids. And when my husband does get to come home (two or three days out of the month), she won’t let him see them UNLESS it’s a first, third, or fifth weekend that he is home. It’s a sad and pathetic situation for my husband and the relationship he once had with his kids.

  131. Child Support | donaldkur Says:

    […] Neo-Neocon: Should men? be allowed to opt out of child support? (neoneocon.com) […]

  132. Hank Says:

    I think most men and MRAs would simply drop the legal paternal surrender issue completely if the state would simply legalize the male contraceptive vasalgel.

  133. LoneWolf Says:

    It is inherently obvious that situating your penis anywhere near a woman is immensely problematic. So, for Men, why are you bothering with the inane further progression of inserting it into a vagina?

    The solution here is for Men to completely flip the script and avoid women…. period. No dating, no marriage, no assistance, no socializing, no support, no eye-contact, no flirting…. and absolutely no phucking… period.

    If you provide any of the aforementioned, then you have willingly surrendered your power and control, as a Man, over to a woman.

    It would be an interesting, yet predictable, social experiment to see what would happen to the female collective if Men suddenly dropped out en masse and ceased paying attention to any of them.

    You “alphas” amuse the shyt outta Me. Game? Ha! Really? You’re still playing by a woman’s rules, supported by a government stuffed full of pro-woman/anti-male laws. Try intercourse without a woman’s consent… yeah…. it’s known as rape – you effing idiots. So… you didn’t exactly “game” her, did you? Not in the least. You scored only because she allowed it.

    And please… please try to tell Me that “game” isn’t about bedding women down… I’ll laugh in your ignorant face. Why else put on your monkey suit and act out your silly guido-speak… what… so you can merely socialize with women? Really? For what? To sit and expose yourself to 90 minutes of illogical, useless psycho-drivel? Is this what you’re buying drinks for?

    Keep going back to the feeders like the sorry cattle that you certainly are… and turn to your buddies and boast about how you’re such a skilled Casanova because you “got game”. Meanwhile, the women still have you by the short-hairs in family court, in police protection, in child custody, in rape claims, in domestic violence claims, in “abortion rights”, in maternal rights etc.

    Who’s the idiot living in close quarters with women?

    Who’s the idiot working directly with women?

    Who’s the idiot marrying women?

    Who’s the idiot dating women?

    Who’s the idiot phucking these insufferable hags?

    Who’s the idiot squirting out vag-turds with them?

    Who’s the idiot trying to “game” them?

    You are… you idiot.

    … which means YOU are the one surrendering all of your power and control to them.

    I don’t feel sorry for any of you.

  134. Deoxy Says:

    I daresay I know a bit more about the “actual nature of women” than you might think.

    I’m not a PUA, but I’ve read a little bit of their stuff, and one of their points that I find interesting is that how women act and what they both say AND BELIEVE about themselves are shockingly different. And they have examples. Oh so many examples.

    This is another example. You make claims about wanting equality, etc, which I believe are in good faith, and yet the positions you come to simply do not match up to those claims.

    As has been rather directly pointed out (but I’m stubborn enough to do it again), the vast majority of women support the legal ability and permission of women to deceive men and men to suffer the consequences for it. The claim that it is “For The Children” (TM) is, generally, complete BS.

    If it was “for the children”, then a wealthy man who wanted custody of the child and could provide better than the mother would get custody instead of the mother. Instead, she gets custody and he pays her, even if the result is much worse for the child.

    So yeah, it’s not “for the children”. That is not the driving force in the current legal regime.

    You clearly don’t like the idea that the vast majority women don’t understand their own nature, but simply mocking those who point it out doesn’t help you any, especially when that same point is a pretty good explanation of your current behaviour!

  135. Mike Hunter Says:

    So what would happen if unmarried men could evade responsibility for the children they father but married men could not? How many men would decide to get married under those unequal circumstances? A law like this would increase the penalty for marriage, would it not?

    Only for men who didn’t want to have children. But would that be so bad? A world in which only men who desire children, or at least at some point consented to being responsible for another human being for the next 18 years are forced to do so?

    I have no problem with the old model of marriage. A model in which getting married meant a woman gave her blanket consent to sexual relations, and men gave their blanket consent to support the woman they married and any resulting children. It’s a system that works because all parties have to explicitly concur with the terms of the agreement ahead of time. If two people have sex outside of marriage it’s acknowledged that he’ll have no duty to support her, and she won’t have to give him any rights to that child; because none of that was agreed upon beforehand.

    The fact of the matter is that women [married or not] can unilaterally abandon their parental responsibilities after a child has already been born by taking advantage of abandonment laws. All they have to do is drop their child off at a: police station, fire station, or hospital. They even have two weeks to chance their minds. As the posters say: “No names, no blame, no shame”.

    The ability of women to unilaterally abdicate their parental responsibilities has nothing to do with biology, and everything to do with legal protection. Whatever you believe the situation regarding unwanted children should be; both men and women should have the same legal protections. The 14th amendment of our constitution demands no less.

  136. Coyote Says:

    The fact of the matter is that women [married or not] can unilaterally abandon their parental responsibilities after a child has already been born by taking advantage of abandonment laws. All they have to do is drop their child off at a: police station, fire station, or hospital. They even have two weeks to chance their minds. As the posters say: “No names, no blame, no shame”.

    Pardon my (possible) ignorance on this, but couldn’t a married man simply call the authorities/police if she does this without his consent, though? Of course, a married woman can simply run away for a few months or so, but this in itself would have her husband extremely suspicious of her (and thus the overwhelming majority of married women will not do this).

  137. Ashley Says:

    When you chose the activity, you chose the consequences and that is true for both genders. If you chose to have sex without protection in 2013, you know what you’re signing up for.

  138. Pablo Says:

    I was lied to about being on the pill, and then the pregnancy was hidden for over 20wks so an abortion would no longer be an option. In my opinion that should be considered entrapment and women nor the law should hold men accountable. Now I’m stuck struggling with a child support payment I can’t afford while supporting my own family. While she enjoys over 1700 a month as she did this a previous time with her first child.

  139. Em Says:

    Opt out?? Your child can’t opt out of eating or wearing clothes and shoes, can they? It is disgusting how little regard these pricks have for the children they fathered. Perhaps the courts keep ruling in favor of women because whiny MRA boys who flood the internet and airwaves with this bullshit won’t shut up and make it hard for the men who really do want to do what’s best for their children.

  140. Em Says:

    And to Pablo and the others who claim they were lied to, if you really didn’t want a kid you should have wrapped it. Making an innocent child suffer because you were too lazy to put on a condom is just pathetic.

  141. http://www.yelp.com/ Says:

    He was forever bringing innocent females to trial, which people were defended via Mason.
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  142. Donk14 Says:

    Why should a man be made to pay when the wife chooses to take on this responseablity on her own, with lies of birth control and threw out the husband ?

  143. neo-neocon Says:


    Gee, Donk, I’ve got a novel idea: why don’t you read the post and find out?

  144. Phil Says:

    I am a dad who won custody of my little ma. I have paid child maintenance even when I didn’t have to (no job) before I got custody. I think separating parents who are fighting for custody have to realise that children require money to grow up – as in the parents have to invest in their children. Regardless of separation. Now I am claiming child support from the mother. In the UK the single parent who acutally raises the child will get some maintenance costs paid towards (calculated by analysing the payees wages etc) and then get another cut from the government towards raising the child etc etc. Benefits state we call it.

    Either way, a contact/custody arrangement should never entail monies, as this is a given but young parents are not educated enough. It angers me because noone takes responsibility anymore of anything, not even tiny little human beings….. Not sure where I am going with this but I had to say something. Keep it up! http://www.helpforcustody.com/custody-battle-tips/

  145. Aaron Says:

    Think 14th Amendment. Equality under the law. If women can opt out of parenthood men must have the same rights and choices. Anything less and men are reduced to second class citizens which creates an unlawful disparate impact or unlawful disparate treatment in the way in which men are treated in such cases.

    Because this violates men’s Constitutional Rights (14th Amend.) any law forcing paternity on men is therefore a Constitutionally Invalid Law and is therefore “NO LAW AT ALL”. See Bond vs United States – U.S. Supreme Court decision. For men to choose to disobey a Constitutionally Invalid Law or Court Order (child support order) then is NOT A CRIME. Any man incarcerated for disobeying a Constitutionally Invalid law or court order is also then wrongfully incarcerated and must be released.

    In short all laws must be fair and equal in application.

  146. neo-neocon Says:


    14th Amendment doesn’t apply to situations with bona fide biological differences that make a difference. The fact that only women get pregnant and men do not means they are not exactly biologically equal, and therefore distinctions based on actual and relevant biological differences are allowed.

    This does not justify completely unequal treatment, of course. Treatment should be as equal as possible under the circumstances. But, for example, because women are the only ones to be pregnant, their male partners (even if married to them) are not allowed to either compel them to become pregnant, compel them to have abortions if already pregnant, or compel them if pregnant to bear the child against their will.

    The first paragraph of the above post makes this fairly clear.

  147. jess Says:

    I agree that the field needs to be equal.I think its time to give women some tough love because women have everything to help them selves form getting pregnant. Women need to start think of their decision clearly and stop acting on emotions. I also think that the government needs to let them grow up. Every action has reaction and its not always the reaction in the fairly tales.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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