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The place of the father & child support: the bible’s perspective

Filed under: Child Support,General,Law & Courts — Divorced_Man @ 4:58 pm Fri 14th September 2012

(Disclaimer: I’m writing this article since our Minister is a Christian, with a hope that his legislation of child support will be influenced by it. I have no intention to convince any of you to become a Christian – I’m not a Christian myself! I just have knowledge of the bible, have researched the scriptures and one of my hobbies is research of international history/cultures)

Payments of child support are not directly mentioned in the bible, although the financial responsibility of the father to the children, even under situations of separation or divorce, is straightforward when you read the bible.

However, the relationship between the father and his children is definitely mentioned in the bible and its importance is highly recognized in the Old Testament: First, in the Ten Commandments, where every child is directed to “Honour your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:1-21) and also to obey his father (and mother) “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother”¦“ (Deuteronomy 21, 18). Researchers of the Old Testament have noted an interesting fact – that THE FATHER is placed before the mother in those two verses, while in other places through the bible, the mother is usually mentioned to have stronger influence on the childrens’ life.

Divorce is not a modern thing, it happened also in ancient times, yet because the bible didn’t mention direct payments of child support, The Talmud (a collection of biblical articles written from 400BC to 400AC) has decided to fix this and added specific directions of payments of child support. The guidelines were that “a father must be responsible for child support payments until the child reaches the age of 6″ and if the child is in need (i.e. hungry for food) then “the father must be responsible to finance the child until he is grown up” (=13 years old).

Maymonides (the “Rambam” – (which is one of the most important figures in the eyes of all three religions – Jewish, Christians and Muslims, lived in Spain, Egypt and Morocco between 1135AC to 1204AC) has related to the relationship between a father and children in divorce, and wrote that “the commandment to respect the father is including the (obvious) expectation to spend time with the father” (Mishna Kidushin A, verse 7).

If you think that all this historical background is disconnected from reality – well it is not. I will now describe how those biblical values have affected the Supreme Court in Israel, when child support issues were on the discussion.
The legal system in Israel is interesting for New Zealanders to look at, because the modern Israel has adopted the British legal system, but on the other hand it is still influenced from the biblical heritage that is ordering to “respect the father” as described above.

Firstly, in 1943 when Israel was under the British mandate, the Jewish Rabbis have extended the obligation for child support payments from the age of 6 to the age of 15, and then under the Israeli government they extended it to the age of 18. However, when a child is not respecting the father and this includes circumstances in which the child refuses to visit the father at his place, child support payments are lowered, and in extreme cases – are totally cancelled.
In 1997, an Israeli district court judge Miller A in Tel Aviv said:

it is not easy for court to order the cancellation of child support payments, just because there isn’t any day-to-day relationship between the children and the father. The natural thinking is to point the responsibility of the divorce at the parents, what means that the children should not bear financial stress from it. However, a father is not a visa card – so when children reach the age of 14 to 15 years and they refuse to have communication with their father, this is humiliating for the father and offensive. Such kids should not earn any financial gains from their father. From the reasons I stated before, and because the children can’t yet have financial independence, I can’t cancel the child support payments, nethertheless the father didn’t apply for it. My decision is to continue to child support payments but only for necessity needs – i.e. for nothing which will be for leisure or for extra lifestyle“ (Tel Aviv court file 14652/97)

The Supreme Court in Israel had several discussions about the child support payments, in cases where the kids are disconnected from the father (quiet a common scene in New Zealand, where the law forces the father to pay child support even if the kids live in Australia or in other countries).

In 1993 the supreme court judge Shamgar wrote in one case: “sometimes court can lower the child support payments, but needs to be done only in extreme cases of disrespect to the father” (file 1880-94), and in another supreme court case in 1994, judge Shamgar said “cancelling child support payments is an extreme step that court should use only in extreme circumstances”. In 2011,the same judge Shamgar has decided to reduce the child support payments by 50%, even that the kids were younger than 15, because:

“¢ The children ignored the father for three years, and behaved to him like a complete stranger
“¢ The father tried to make contact with the kids, with no success
“¢ The father tried to employ a professional that will help to recover the connection with the kids, with no success.
“¢ The mother chose “to sit on the fence” and not to help the father to recover the relationship with the kids

Another case study to look at, is Israeli family court decision to completely suppress all child support payments of a father to his three children, all of them older than 15 years old, and to fine the mother with 10,000NIS (around $3,000NZ). This happened in 2008 in the family court at Haifa, family court file number 59890-08. The judge explained that his decision is based on the following facts:

“¢ The kids have refused to maintain any relationship with the father
“¢ The father has asked to build relationship with the kids, but they refused
“¢ Whenever the children or their mother needed money they knew how to approach the father. But they never approached him for anything else.
“¢ The mother had very good financial status after the divorce – she sold the family house and gained profit from it.
“¢ The mother was motivated to influence the children not to see their father, because her new husband acted like “father for the kids”

I hope that those cases that I exposed today from the other side of the planet will present that there are ways to legislate a fair judicial system, which is looking at the father not only as “an asset” or as an ATM card, but also as an important figure in the life and the development of the children. New Zealand (as long as the US and AU) needs to introduce a new factors to the child support system – VALUES and RESPECT TO THE FATHER.

16 Responses to “The place of the father & child support: the bible’s perspective”

  1. Non custodial Father says:

    I am sorry if my comments are deemed offensive (they are not meant to be), but what does this (and Jewish concepts/Israeli Law) have with the realities of life for kids and Dads in NZ? The Family Court here would be even more convinced that we were at best silly and at worst completely mad if we presented this type of commentary in support of our case for care and custody. And as for its relationship to child support! IRD and Dunne won’t have a bar of it as they do not consider CS is or should be related to amount of contact kids have with their Dads (whether voluntary or enforced). I am sure Divorced Man means well (and there are some admirable statements/intentions referred to but…………..sorry this is too ridiculous for words. I have more faith in the possibility that pigs will fly than those involved in the FAC/CS systems will suddenly find a Christian conscience and apply Christian concepts as appear to be advocated here!

  2. Divorced Man says:

    hmmmm… I don’t really know what to answer. I’m academic in nature so for me any theoretical concept is great to examine. Unfortunately you are probably right when it comes to the system of CS, however, I found myself struggling against blocked system like you, and I had days in which I (wrongly) thought that maybe…. maybe I am the crazy one, and not them. That maybe THEY are right, they are sensible, and I am the selfish one, I am the one that doesn’t really understand. After researching a bit I was encouraged to find that there IS common sense and that I am actually not the “last Mohegan” on this planet. So even if it is just encouraging for (just one another) divorced man, than I played my role.

  3. Mikey says:

    Thank you. I find this interesting. When a child is enchoraged to act badly to a father, so much so that the child would not hesitate to destroy the father I would agree that it would be immoral to pay child support.

  4. Mikey says:

    When a child calls a father on fathers day and calls him a c..t and his wife a whore, who would pay another cent?

  5. Bruce S says:

    Mikey (#4); “when a child calls a father on fathers day” it means you are at least being thought about!! What the child says may be more a reflection of what has been drummed into him / her by the “custodial / controlling” parent. I got my first fathers day call in 2 years this year, from a daughter who is now nearly 18. She had made some quite “interesting” observations about me in the past; I knew precisely where those observations had come from. Suffice to say; daughter has finally realized that it is only her mum that harbored the hatred and daughter now refuses to echo her mothers (irrational) sentiments; better still, daughter and I have finally normalized our relationship.

  6. Down Under says:

    @ Mikey. If a child is being alienated to that extent it is my experience that they don’t recover from adopting hatred as their acceptable emotional norm. Also that they are inclined to encourage others to be the same as them, adopt the same opinion, fairly normal human behaviour once that ingrained belief is installed and also they are simply repeating their own learned experience. Teaching children to hate in such a fashion is irrational inhuman behaviour. I quite sadly recall helping a gentleman in a similar situation where such behaviour was an ongoing issue. I sat in court as a Mackenzie friend and watched him explain (amongst other things) how the mother had brought his alienated daughter to his home where they stood outside the property yelled abuse and threw eggs at the house. The end result was that the judge laughed about it and told the woman – “Now Mrs X, we just can’t have you running about the streets making pavlova like this can we.” She thought it was a good joke and laughed too, she obviously appreciated the support for her behaviour from the judge and acknowledgment of her parenting skills from the family court. He like other men received no help and support to deal with the issues he faced and wanted addressed. Unfortunately the family court is not the place to seek help in such circumstances, they don’t take these issues seriously, nor do cyfs. It is not something I feel you should leave unaddressed and the only suggestion I have is to write a letter to your child’s school asking if they could assist in addressing the child’s abusive behaviour. I have found teachers more inclined to the respond to the children’s needs than family court hypocrites. It is not always the case but letting teachers know can produce good results. Simply saying; why should I be paying child support and not taking some action in support of the child (in the hope that things will one day get better) is probably not going to produce good results. Of course you will keep a copy of that letter.

  7. Lee says:

    K, I have been reading comments from this site from time to time, have taken a front seat next to my partner through all his custody/child support ‘traumas’ and feel so disheartened, pissed-off and sick that still nothing can be done. So, WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?!!! to alleviate, soften, demolish these prejudices and alienating circumstances against ‘good, level-headed fathers out there’. Many of the problems are ringing the same bell but still there seems to be no movement closer to the solution. Yes the family court are a destructive intervention for many, for us too, but how can we take action to start making bigger steps towards justice for fathers?!!!? How, how, how.?

  8. Down Under says:

    When you look at the states expectation of men the only social obligation that is rigorously enforced is financial. If you put this in the context of a social model for the operation of a society and place that alongside the family court as an enforcement unit, you have a complete power shift into the hands of women. Authority over children, matrimonial homes, and a state sponsored claim on the financial benefit of a father’s labour. Women in New Zealand have a freedom above social responsibility that allows them to enjoy not being held accountable for their actions and that is rapidly undermining the social construct which we expect our children to succeed in. No quick fix from the outcomes of 40 years of feminist social engineering but it helps to know which side you are on.

  9. Divorced Man says:

    #5 Bruce – I’m glad for you, I heard (from friends) that in the end the children understand, and if you play fair with them, in the end they appreciate it.

  10. Divorced Man says:

    @Mikey – cheers mate. Problem that even in those extreme circumstance that you experience, according to the NZ law you must pay!! This is horrible I think, and of course letting the woman play with the kids and with us. IF the act said something like “the child support payments are conditional with normalized relationship with the paying parent” oh my! I think those Exes will make sure the father is being loved and appreciated, at least until the age of 19

  11. Divorced woman says:

    So even if the father is not good to his children and makes it so they don’t want to be around him, they should still be made to go to his place? And a woman should have to be solely responsible for her children even though her marriage fell apart and became loveless(always being belittled and put down, and made to feel inferior)

  12. MurrayBacon says:

    #6 pure, unadulterated relationship vandalism, based on legal worker’s paramount financial interests:

    she obviously appreciated the support for her behaviour from the judge and acknowledgment of her parenting skills from the family court.

    Divorced woman has some good points. These are points that might be made by a parent who had been given insufficient support.

    However, these are also points easily made by a parent who has failed to understand both parents’ duty to share in bringing up their children and whose need for ego wants to use the children as pawns in the fight between parents. These parents would rather crush the children’s lives, than admit there was anything good about the other parent (who they had a child with). These parents are unable to see anything good in the other parent, whether it is there or not? Doesn’t really look like a safe and healthy parent? How cruel and how stupid does a judge need to be, to support such a parent?

    These are points that might be made by a parent who had been given insufficient support, possibly that no amount of support would have been enough?

    Either way, parents who understand their children’s needs, don’t take value from vandalising their children’s relationships with anyone, least of all their previous lover. Good parents understand the value of relationships and protect them. Judges cannot see the value of relationships, they just value other people’s money.

  13. DJ Ward says:

    #12
    So even if the ‘mother’ is not good to her children and makes it so they don’t want to be around her, they should still be made to go to her place? (Live with her) And a woman should have to be solely responsible (ever heard of child support) for her children even though her marriage fell apart and became loveless (The male always being belittled and put down, and made to feel inferior)

  14. Christina says:

    A Christian father should not have to pay child support because the children should be in his custody. The bible is clear that the father is to rule over his household. If we are brutally honest than we have to look to what the bible says and what God has willed for the family structure. The wife does not have the power to usurp the father’s authority and woe to any woman who tries to keep a GOOD father from his children. Before I get attacked… this does not apply to absent or abusive fathers. An absent father wanting no relationship with their children is already in violation of God’s will for him. The bible is clear that he needs to provide for his own and if he doesn’t than the bible says one should not associate with him. Not divorce, disassociate… meaning SEPARATE! Same for an abusive father… God is clear that we are to discipline our children which is NOT the same as abuse. He disciplines in love, teaches them, and does not provoke them to anger. When I say a father should have custody of the kids, I’m talking about good God-fearing Christian father’s whose children have been ripped from him by the will of the wife/ex-wife. In that sense I absolutely believe that he should have custody of his children regardless of what the mother feels she is entitled to. If she does believe she has more right to the child than a good Christian father… she needs to take that up with God and get to reading her bible. PERIOD!

  15. Lyndie says:

    I agree with the comment
    #15. Coming from a U.S. standpoint and a believer of Christ my husband and I are experiencing child support
    Issues with his 9 year old son and his mother (an ex girlfriend). To top it off the mother is also a believer but goes to a church wear the women don’t cut their hair because according to the bible the hair is “the glory of a woman” and where they only wear long sleeves and long skirts everywhere they go. Which is not a problem if that’s what a woman chooses to do, however she bible thumps and says (after my husband consistently has been in the child’s life for 9 years and pays non court ordered child support but lost his business recently and wasn’t able to pay the consistent amount for 1 year as he was trying to get back on his feet and for us to not go homeless) she then bible thumps and says to him “the bible says the father is to provide.” It’s been 6 months now, she’sade it impossible for us to see him, and the son now too (who loved being with us prior to her viciousness and lack of mercy) also was turned and doesn’t
    Want to see us anymore. Using that she now says our family can’t see him because he’s having nightmares about his father” and shortly after sent child support services on my husband. My husband is a good man, he believes In God and never gives up on his son despite what his mother has tried to do, but he did let go for a couple of months because he saw his son being torn in half. We’ve decided to fight for his fatherhood rights in court now. Let’s just say we are dealing with a religious spirit that is twisting and using the bible to her own advantage. The father should “provide” for his “home” not for the child’s daily ice cream, and private school especially when the mother’s own father is a wealthy millionaire from China and the father just lost his business and is trying to not go homeless. And let’s just say if the son was in our home, he would be lived, nurtured, and cared for, as God does provide for our household’s basic needs when times are tough, he still always comes thru. Secondly, how can a woman who doesn’t “cut” her glory (her hair) still is willing to cut the glory of her son? The bible states the “glory of the children is their father.” Thanks for sharing this, we hope to keep these ways in mind, although America is different, as if they give all the power to the mother just to brake down the men and good fathers of our nation, we still have high hopes that God’d judgement will speak in the court system and that we’ll get our son back, that he starts loving to be with us again as how he was the 3 years before this happened, to reunite with his little brother again, and for him to experience life again with the non negotiable fact that he has a father who loves him and works hard everyday so that he can go further in life. He’s 9 now, he’s a young man, and who better to teach him than his own father? Crazy baby mama dramas–don’t forget to put your child first, or else u will miss out on a glorious blessing and your own child will miss out on his God-given blessing as well.

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