(Deadbeat) Deer Hunter
I’d like to apologize for the title, first off, as I really don’t like the word "deadbeat" but the pun was too good to pass up.
The State of Illinois, as reported by this article in the Post-Dispatch, recently enacted a new policy that refuses to grant hunting or fishing licenses to fathers who are behind on child-support payments. As the article plainly explains:
A $14,000 child support check was handed Rachel Miller because the father of her two sons likes to hunt white-tail deer.
Apparently, though, the individuals who have been forced to make that choice aren’t too happy about the fact that the government is getting more involved with their affairs:
[The father] isn’t happy about the turn of events. He says the way the state works now, they’re in control of way too many things.
Child support, like most topics in family law, is a touchy subject. And while I agree that there should be some government impetus toward parental responsibility (if for no other reason than fathers should take care of their children, rather than passing that burden on to the state) I feel like options such as paycheck garnishment often go too far in restricting the freedoms of "deadbeat dads," who are not always as much to blame for an unfortunate family situation as the mother but who still get stuck with the bill for children they’re often not allowed to see.
But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
If you want to make a claim against the fishing license, fine. But I think it’s pretty apparent that the State of Illinois is justified in restricting who runs around in the woods and shoots off a firearm or bow. Unless you’re hunting for food for the children who you owe child support to, the state should be able to restrict the activity of recreational hunting as a motivation for fathers to fulfill their lawful financial obligations.
This isn’t an issue of "oh, they can afford a hunting license, so they should be able to afford child support," because that’s a ridiculous comparison. A deer license in Illinois for 2008 costs $15, while child support payments are often in the thousands of dollars per month. This is a carrot and stick issue. Hunters want to hunt, but they need to tend to responsibilities before they can play.
Or, they could just take their children hunting with them … which might have solved the whole problem in the first place. Just a thought.