Friday, September 10, 2010

Is providing child care equal to providing child support?

There a fascinating discussion going on at, where Dr. Leah and Rachel Sarah share the story of a single mom whose ex-boyfriend is providing child care for their baby -- in lieu of financial support -- while she works full-time outside of the home.

The question is whether he's also obligated to provide financial support. The single mom and the ex have never been married; his only income is from online trading, the folks at Singlemommyhood point out. “My ex says that I should feel lucky to have him watching our son,” the single mom says. “He never misses an opportunity to tell me how much money I’m saving in child care costs.” While she's glad that their child is spending time with his father, she can't help but wonder if she's missing something, given their unorthodox arrangement.

My take on the matter? Every situation is different, and I’m sure there’s more to this one than we've been told (there always is), but at a very basic level, do the math. If the support payment for one child is less than the cost of a good day care provider, then the single mom is coming out ahead. (In my area, daycare for a single infant can cost as much as $300 a week.)

But after reading the entire post, I can’t help but wonder: If the roles were reversed — if the single mom was staying home with the child while the ex boyfriend worked full time outside of the home — the person who went to work every day would be paying child support. And no one would question it.

Why isn't that the case here?

Readers, what do you think? Is providing child care equal to providing financial support, if you don't have a job outside of the home? Do men have a greater responsibility to provide financial support than women? And if so, does that undermine women's value in the workplace in general?

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