There are a number of stereotypes and fixed ideas about parenting that can affect perceptions of African American fathers in Kansas City and across the country. A new documentary called “Where’s Daddy?” attempts to explore how race and poverty intersect with the child support system to the detriment of African American families across the country. While many people think of the stereotype of a deadbeat father who owes child support, many people with child support debt are actually living in poverty. In fact, 70 percent of all child support debt across the country is owed by people who make less than $10,000 each year.
Child support default can only add to the difficulties experienced by these families. By not paying, a father can lose child custody time and face criminal penalties that could affect future employment. In addition, people can even face prosecution or jail time associated with their child support debt. One well-known case of an African American man shot by police in the back after he ran away from a traffic stop was connected to child support debt. The man allegedly ran away because he was afraid of being taken to jail and losing his job.
The documentary film aims to challenge mainstream media portrayals of African American men as dads who do not care about their children. It interviews fathers, mothers, lawyers, psychologists, children and others impacted by the child support system. They are asked questions about the effect that this experience has had on their lives and the pain that it has caused their families.
In many cases, a father struggling with poverty may not be represented by a family law attorney in court, putting them at a severe disadvantage when dealing with the system. An attorney can help a father seek a fair settlement regarding child custody and support.