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Sometimes, divorce leaves a parent homeless. It may not happen right away, but over time, (and not such a long time) a custodial parent could find themselves unable to pay the rent or mortgage and end up without a home. And when that happens, the kids’ lives are in peril pretty quick. This happens not so much in high net worth cases (like, say, Countess Marie Douglas David and her ex-hubby George David) , but in those fringe-economic cases (middle class and working class families) where the main breadwinner (usually the father) is gone, and for some reason stops paying child support. Sometimes the reason is legitimate (he lost his job) but other times, he (or she!) just takes off and the family can’t locate him. He moves to another state, loses himself in another country, or just straight up stops working and stops contacting the kids or assisting with their care and welfare. Or he or she could literally die. I mean, it happens.
A custodial parent in this situation will obviously find him or herself on the welfare rolls pretty quickly. But sometimes welfare funds are not enough. And even so, there are often other exacerbating circumstances, such as drug use or addiction (of the custodial parent) and/or mental illness (including depression that stems from the divorce) that could cause this situation to unfold and worsen rather rapidly.
That is why counseling is so important pre and post divorce. Not everyone has the same coping skills and there is no shame in seeking help to avoid this type of tragedy. Also, as far as the finances, it is so important to try to find a source of income as soon as possible even if one is scheduled to receive spousal/child support. Because putting your entire survival and existence in the hand of another human being can be a dangerous thing. I think. I mean, in this economy, it is not always easy to find work. Sometimes one has to create the work for oneself. There are tons of “work at home” set ups for enterprising people that divorcees ought to explore.
But do not be ashamed to get public assistance if that is what you need to get you to the next level. Sometimes you have no choice and it sure beats homelessness, doesn’t it? Especially with young kids?
As for the dead beat? If you are dealing with a dead beat there are certain safety nets you can utilize such as putting parachute clauses in your divorce settlement that go to the issue of insurance and wills and stuff like that. Plus, with a social security number there is a lot of policing that can be done with that. And these days, with the Internet, it is more and more difficult for people to just disappear. It can still happen. He can move to Guadalajara Mexico and then what? Is there even extradition? But it is getting more and more difficult for folks to pull that off. (One of the benefits of globalization).
But yea. I can’t say I’ve actually had any clients who that has happened to. But I can totally see how something like this can happen. And it is so disruptive for the kids as far as school and stuff like that. So do you best to put mechanisms in place to avoid this, far-fetched though it may seem at the moment.
This post is reposted on November 17, 2010. The Original post was posted on September 11, 2009