A few weekends ago, thousands of fathers across the state of Minnesota gathered with their children to celebrate Father's Day by opening gifts, going out to brunch or just spending the day together.
While the day undoubtedly turned out to be noteworthy for many of these fathers, there was a group of fathers in one U.S. state for whom the day was also noteworthy-- just not perhaps for the right reasons.
On the morning of Wednesday, June 5, over 2,600 fathers across York County, Pennsylvania received a text message from the county Domestic Relations Office, which read "looking for the ideal Father's Day gift? Make a child support payment."
The message immediately prompted significant outrage among its recipients, many of whom claimed to be up-to-date on their child support payments and felt that the text message did nothing more than reinforce negative stereotypes about divorced dads.
"That's offensive. I know that I'm not a deadbeat. I know I'm involved in my child's life in whatever way possible," said the father of one 13-year-old boy. "There's no reason for that type of text. I don't think they were thinking at all when they sent this."
For its part, the York County Domestic Relations Office is standing by the text message, asserting that the message was not sent in error, or only to those fathers facing impending court hearings regarding child custody and/or child support matters.
Rather, officials contend it was sent correctly to both men and women identified by the system as having some amount of child support arrears and that it was possible that there was some confusion among message recipients as to whether their payments were update to date. They also indicated that the text message wasn't meant to be offensive.
"We continue to look for innovative ways to get people to pay their child support," said the office director. "It's just using the latest technology to get the message out there."
All indications are that the York County Domestic Relations Office will continue to rely on its text message system in the near future. Indeed, the system was recently used to send text messages about upcoming job fairs to those parents with no employer listed on file.
What are your thoughts on these text messages? Is it a good idea or is it offensive to fathers?
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you would like to learn more about child support, including enforcement and modification.
Source: The York Dispatch, "York County dads 'offended' by Domestic Relations text message," Christina Kauffman, June 5, 2014; Fox 43, " Dads are mad about York County Father's Day text," Katie Kyros, June 5, 2014