“Deadbeat dad” is a negative phrase used to describe dads who fail to pay child support and take care of their children. It became a catchphrase in the 1990s when divorce rates were high. It is a derogative way to label a father who is seen as not doing hid duty towards his children. While the main idea behind the phrase was to shame fathers into paying child support, it has morphed into a way to put down any dad who may struggle with paying child support. The reality of the “deadbeat dad” in Minnesota is not what you may think.

Time explains that today’s “deadbeat dads” are often not at all like the ones of decades ago. They are not abandoning their families and trying to avoid responsibility. While many men do struggle with paying child support, they often help in other ways. They are there as a father to their children. They may contribute as they can to helping with the expenses of raising their children.

This is largely due to lower incomes. As a father, you may not be able to afford the child support payment, but you do what you can outside of that payment. That does not make you a deadbeat. You are taking responsibility. You are caring for your children. It is just outside of the institution of child support.

Today’s “deadbeat dads” look much different than those when the phrase first came about. They are not trying to get out of being a parent. In many cases, they just cannot afford to pay support. Furthermore, “deadbeat dad” is quite biased since there are as many mothers out there who are also not handling their child support obligations, so “dad” should be a more gender-neutral term to be fair. This information is for education and is not legal advice.