Patterico's Pontifications

1/19/2009

Michigan Orders Dad to Get Married or Pay Up

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 12:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Michigan has a law that requires a birth father to reimburse the state for his child’s state-paid birthing costs, but reimbursement is waived if the father is married to the mother. Gary Johnson, an unwed father, isn’t married to Rebecca Witt, his child’s birth mother, so Michigan billed Johnson $3,800 for their child’s birthing costs. He doesn’t want to pay.

Johnson and Witt say they are going to get married but they want the wedding to occur when she chooses:

“Johnson and Witt said they want to marry eventually, but Witt said she wants her marriage date to be her choice.

“I don’t think anybody should tell me when to get married,” said Witt. “I would like to have a nice wedding, and I can wait for it.”

Witt and Johnson said they have been struggling since the state started coming after Johnson for the hospital costs. Johnson said he was told he would be billed $500 a month and planned to meet with a caseworker to work out a solution.

“Losing just $10 hurts us,” said Johnson, who makes $8 an hour at a Grand Blanc-area nursery. “We don’t have a car, we don’t even have an oven.”

Johnson said he understood the state wants to promote marriage for parents but he respects Witt’s position. “It’s a woman’s dream to have the best wedding she can have,” he said.”

Witt can wait for a perfect wedding but not to start a family? This couple has a lot bigger problems than worrying about the perfect wedding, and it’s a real-world example of how woefully unprepared some people are to make basic economic and life decisions.

— DRJ

45 Responses to “Michigan Orders Dad to Get Married or Pay Up”

  1. I’m suprised he didn’t try to use the old excuse “I was just pokin’ fun, she’s the one took it serious”.

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  2. You’d think Obama could find $3800 for him in among the 800 billion he’s giving away …

    SPQR (72771e)

  3. What if the girl refuses to marry the boy? Does he still have to pay up?

    brobin (c07c20)

  4. I think so.

    DRJ (345e40)

  5. Y’all are pokin’ fun at this, but look what the lovely Miss Witt said:

    I don’t think anybody should tell me when to get married. I would like to have a nice wedding, and I can wait for it.

    Apparently part of her wedding plans include having the state pay for the costs of Mr Johnson and Miss Witt having spawned a bastard child, rather than taking responsibility themselves. I would hope that the state would pursue Mr Johnson for the $3,800 regardless of whether he and Miss Witt marry.

    The Dana who pays his own bills -- and thinks other people should do the same (556f76)

  6. So I guess the real question is:

    What rights does the birth father have besides having to pay for the birth and child support if they are not married. I know he has no right of decision if she decides to have an abortion and he doesn’t want her to. He has no right to stop her from giving the child up for adoption. He can try to get custody, but in many area, this is not a sure thing even though he can prove paternity. And if they are living together and have a second child, that is not his, in CA he may still be held responsible for child support even if she leaves him for the real father of that child.

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  7. Fascists!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  8. There are occasions when playing with fire gets someone burned. It sounds like these two just got singed. If they decide not to get married, they’ll get burned.

    Good for MI for not giving free benes to a couple people who were not willing to take responsibility for their actions. MI is forcing people to be responsible for their actions in this case. Cudos.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  9. Long-named Dana: I agree with your desire for the whole loaf but I’ll settle for 2/3 a loaf in this instance.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  10. […] Michigan Orders Dad to Get Married or Pay Up Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 12:26 pm […]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archive » I have absolutely no sympathy for these people (73d96f)

  11. #5 Dana

    I agree with you 100%. Personal responsibility is something that most people only read about in others. I am curious whether MI goes after the illegals who show up at the emergency room to give birth to their little anchors. Do MI try to dock their welfare checks, food stamps and other government handouts? Or are these cases just dropped?

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  12. Witt: “I don’t think anybody should tell me when to get married,” said Witt. “I would like to have a nice wedding, and I can wait for it.”

    Ah, miss? You shagged the wrong guy if you’re loking for a nice wedding. That kid will be wandering aroud Berkely before your plant-watering lover can afford a nice wedding.

    Speaking of which…this past Sunday’s Dilbert. Maybe the plant water-er is Johnson?

    K (5a6552)

  13. Mr Curtis (@# 11): Was that a rhetorical question?

    Aunursa told you what would happen in “Frisco, at any rate.

    The pissed off Dana (556f76)

  14. Seems like an odd law to me. As presented here, it’s clearly unconstitutional as discriminatory to the father. (Why doesn’t the mother have to pay half?) And it seems like there might be better ways to promote marriage.

    tim maguire (50b9b8)

  15. Go to a justice of the peace and get married. Then have a nice ceremony when you can aford it.

    After all, they are apparently living as husband and wife anyway.

    Amphipolis (e6b868)

  16. Tim beat me to it. The father, should he choose to bail, is already stuck with child support costs. Given that the decision to make a baby (or to engage in the physical process) takes two, child support laws have always seemed somewhat anti-male, and this is no different.

    acm (a5258a)

  17. This is what we get when we let the government do anything other than provide security. Already, marriage is a legal term. This is just further intrusion because we allowed government to overstep its responsibilities.

    Hell, we even voted for it.

    Two Dogs (9dce46)

  18. They can’t afford a car or an OVEN!, but want to spend money on a wedding. Maybe what the state should do is go ahead and take the child into custody.

    XBradTC (8b32ef)

  19. Seems like an odd law to me. As presented here, it’s clearly unconstitutional as discriminatory to the father. (Why doesn’t the mother have to pay half?) And it seems like there might be better ways to promote marriage.

    Comment by tim maguire — 1/19/2009 @ 1:00 pm

    I understand your POV, Tim. There are ways for women to get pregnant where the women are not consenting. And there are women who will not abort that baby because they don’t believe in punishing the innocent for the acts of the guilty. And I don’t necessarily view this as promoting marriage, per se. I view this as a financial responsibility issue. If a married couple cannot afford the cost of the birth, that’s one thing (and can be argued it’s still the parental responsibility) but financial considerations for a multitude of government hand-outs are based on income levels, and a parent staying legally removed from those income reports is one effective way to gain OPM. Except for this instance and this law.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  20. another argument for birth control….. %-)

    redc1c4 (9c4f4a)

  21. Just another example of legal discrimination against men.

    Evil Pundit (843b74)

  22. Too bad this didn’t make the news tomorrow afternoon. I’m just itchin’ to start blaming Obama for everything.

    Homer (5a6552)

  23. At the link proponents for the law describe its goal as encouraging people to get married. That makes sense to me. Studies show married couples typically have more financial resources than single parents, not to mention the benefits to the child from having two parents.

    DRJ (345e40)

  24. There is a “rule” that is in play in the periphery of this debate. The “rule” is:

    Men play at love to get sex; women play at sex to get love.

    The “rule” shows the flawed nature of many minds, and is not wholly accurate in that it over-generalizes, but I believe this “rule” should be taken into consideration to a limited extent, especially when producing the “sex discrimination” angle. I had thought of that angle myself, being male and offended by many court cases. But I’m not certain I want to punish so heavily the willful naivete of a woman who believes the “I’ll respect you later” antics of an obviously depraved man.

    If a man will do anything to boink a woman, that “anything” should also include the entire cost of the result of the boinking.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  25. There are many government programs that give financial assistance to single mothers. If the woman gets married, they loose the benefits. (Part of the process that is blamed for killing the black family in America.) Father lives with the mother but for financial reasons, can’t get married without killing the golden goose. Can’t pay the bill because he only makes $8/hour watering plants. Next step, debtors prison.

    Dude, get a second job, or a better job. You WILL need a better income to raise a family. I don’t think the state should pick up the cost. I think that everyone should be responsible for their own actions. If you can’t afford to pay for the delivery, you sure as hell can’t afford to raise a child. Put it up for adoption, get assistance from family members, join the military, but what ever you do, man up and do the right thing. Expecting others to pay for your actions is not it.

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  26. The mother made the choice. (Y’all know how they love choice.) The mother received the medical services. And the state is going after the guy? The law instructs them to do that?

    Pablo (99243e)

  27. “Michigan has a law that requires a birth father to reimburse the state for his child’s state-paid birthing costs, but reimbursement is waived if the father is married to the mother. ”

    Seems like a real dumb law.

    imdw (e10198)

  28. Encourage marriage while handing out condoms in grade school and sexualizing young children with sex-ed?

    What they accomplish with one-hand they undo with the other.

    Da'Shiznit (df1dcc)

  29. Once again this is a perfect example of why there has been a social contract of marriage *before* babies. It kept a society strong wherein men assumed the responsibility of their wives and subsequent children because that was the expectation. Now because there is no stigma morally or culturally to having babies without a marriage contract we have a mess like this with some idiot sperm donor whining about not being able to afford an oven. People need to stop playing house with real babies until they themselves have matured past the stage of infanthood themselves.

    Bottom line: If you can’t afford an oven for dinner, you have no business putting any buns in any other oven.

    Dana (137151)

  30. Da’Shiznit wrote:

    Encourage marriage while handing out condoms in grade school and sexualizing young children with sex-ed?

    What they accomplish with one-hand they undo with the other.

    While I’m sure that a good laugh-line could be worked on your last sentence, before you blame the schools, you might want to blame the parents. Have you seen what junior high, and even younger, girls wear these days? Last I knew — and yes, I have kids myself — it was the parents who paid for the clothes.

    The disgusted Dana (556f76)

  31. Dana:

    Bottom line: If you can’t afford an oven for dinner, you have no business putting any buns in any other oven.

    That is classic.

    DRJ (345e40)

  32. Dana, just so you know, my daughter was buying some of her own clothes at the ripe old age of 13. She had used “paper girl” money. She had a “real job” as a bagger at Kroger at the ripe old age of 14. And she did lots of shopping outside my intervention. (She also graduated HS at the age of 16, but that’s another point.) Had I known she was buying thongs (g-strings from my stone-age perspective; thongs were what you wore on your feet way back then) with her own money, I would definitely have put a stop to it way back then.

    The blame cannot fully be placed on the parent, as I hope I have shown, but a large majority of it can.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  33. We are ignoring the elephant in the room. Why is the state paying the birthing costs in the first place?

    nk (9097f8)

  34. “It’s a woman’s dream to have the best wedding she can have,” he said.”

    Yeah, nimwit, well it’s also a baby’s dream to have parents smart enough to take care of it, but obviously not everyone gets what they want in life. So instead of pathetically whining, why are you not enrolled in night school so you can earn a degree or vocational certificate to get a better paying job and buy a damn oven to heat those baby bottles on?

    Dana (137151)

  35. Dana, how dare you infer she hasn’t selected the healthiest choice possible for a newborn — lactation. You are being far too insensitive to the plight of this young unmarried fornicating couple and their accidental offspring.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  36. We took off and got married in 1965. It cost us $25 including the license, blood tests, Justice of the Peace, beef fondue and a bottle of Rose Mateus.

    We had two sons. I paid the bill for the first one and the second was born in a military hospital when I was a 1LT. Six grandchildren, two careers and 38 years later we are still married. People who know us are amazed.

    Personal responsibility is essential to success. No one owes you a living or a hospital bill.

    arch (84c50a)

  37. Obviously I meant 48 years. Time flies when you’re having fun.

    arch (84c50a)

  38. nk wrote:

    We are ignoring the elephant in the room. Why is the state paying the birthing costs in the first place?

    The lovely Miss Witt was a Medicaid patient. She was eligible for Medicaid because Democrats and Republicans alike thought the program should exist. It was never thought that people would try to abuse the system, because poor people are so noble.

    The cold-hearted Dana (556f76)

  39. So I take it that you believe that the State should have the right to force marriage upon people who would prefer to make their own choices?

    fishbane (d64fde)

  40. I think you are intentionally missing the point, fishbane.

    JD (c5f3ab)

  41. The state is not actually forcing a marriage on anyone. That is quite obvious. The state is giving them a choice.

    A) Don’t get married and the father gets the bill.
    B) Get married and the state pays the bill.

    There is no “force” there.

    But, of course, that “misunderstanding” was not the reason for fishbane’s post.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  42. Educate me, JD. Either it is that the state should not be in the practice of dictating either living arrangements or ceremonial religious practices, or it is that the state is imperfectly applying those tools, for values of “imperfect” that match one’s own.

    Whichever, the facts remain that (a) the state is attempting to force a marriage, and (b) the actors in question don’t appear to wish to be married. That doesn’t seem so hard to understand. Babbling about money ceded from the state, as far as I know, doesn’t rise to a contract violation, but I happily submit that I don’t know anything about administrative law.

    fishbane (d64fde)

  43. If you don’t want the financial responsibility of spawning, keep your clothes on.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  44. I’m with you , Hitchcock – I just don’t understand why people seem to assume Spawning While Underemployed == State Imposed Marriage. Which is pretty clearly what this is: just like how “driver’s lessons” are imposed on DUIs as a revenue source, instead of actually attempting to fix the problem.

    I’m fine with the bill, although I find it weird that “dad” gets it. Seems to reinforce the idea that women don’t have agency. Which, come to think of it, seems to be what this rule says.

    fishbane (d64fde)

  45. You still don’t understand, fishbane, that it is NOT state-imposed marriage. The choice is left to them whether to marry or not. In this case, the state is saying if they choose not to marry, someone (not the next-door neighbor) is liable for the financial responsibility of spawning. If they choose to marry, the state will allow them to continue to be irresponsible to a degree. It is an effort to force people to be responsible for their own actions.

    While I agree this can be viewed as foisting all the responsibility on the man and none on the woman, I don’t necessarily see it as such. The woman will definitely have the financial hardship of raising a child long after the birth but the man may never have any real financial hardship. Even if child support payments are foisted on the man, it doesn’t truly balance out all the hardships and responsibilities.

    Consider:
    Man rapes woman. (“Date rape” is still rape.) Woman is pro-life and gives birth to child. State splits the cost between man and woman?

    Man says “Let’s get married.” Man and woman do the do. Man says “I changed my mind.” I agree the woman was gullible and should shoulder her share of the responsibility, but the woman will already be dumping lots of money into the kid and will likely suffer a loss of income. So, may as well soak the man for it.

    Then we have the woman who gets pregnant to try to force the man to marry her out of his sense of honor. Again, she will have financial hardship as a result of child-rearing — if she doesn’t abort her human blackmail. Let the man pay for his afternoon delight.

    As far as I’m concerned, this law is merely an attempt to make people responsible for their own actions. Yes, it is an attempt to get parents married, but histo-sociological facts show such a compact is immensely beneficial to the child. And, yes, it is also an attempt to save the next-door neighbor from having to pay for someone else’s afternoon delight.

    I do not find fault in this MI law. I do find fault in the OPM system that has been in place for ever so long that has been the catalyst for this law.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)


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