Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Deadbeat Dad Definition:

A father who ignores a Court order to pay child support.

A slang term, which was regrettably coined gender-specific, as persons who do not pay child support includes "moms" as well as "dads".

In Lavoie v Wills, Justice John Rooke of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench wrote:

"The slang term deadbeat dad has been used in the media and by the public for some time for fathers who do not obey court orders for payments of support for children....

"Many so-called deadbeat dads are those who not only fail to follow court orders, but abandon their children, leave the jurisdiction or otherwise fail to take care of their responsibilities. There is no excuse for their conduct."

In LD v RD, Judge Stansfield of the British Columbia Provincial Court used these words to describe the phenomena:

"No doubt, Mr. D. is a very nice man to sit and have coffee with; no doubt, he is a very good person to build your greenhouse; but he has been a wholesale failure as a father. I am not going to mince words in that characterization because it is simply the truth. Indeed, Mr. D. said himself in his evidence that he is, and I quote, "a terrible father." To use my own language again, he is the quintessential "deadbeat dad." His kids have received very little from him financially and it sounds like they have received very little from him in the way of non financial parental guidance and support."

In his 2004 article for the Western New England Law Review, Marquette University Law School professor David Ray Papke described the term as follows:

"The notion of deadbeat dads found a place in the public consciousness. Blessed with an alliterative lilt, the phrase connoted lazy, irresponsible fathers who could but would not pay their child support and who probably should not have fathered children in the first place."

In 1998, the United States Congress passed a statute which had this title: Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (18 U.S.C. § 228), designed to facilitate the enforcement of child support obligations in regards to payors who purposely moved from state to state to avoid child support liability. 

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