Once a Deadbeat, Always?

Deadbeat dad

Here’s another deadbeat dad story — but with an unusual twist.

(Yes, I know plenty of deadbeat mothers exist. Here’s a tragic example. But “Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Non-Custodial Parents” isn’t catchy.)

If you read my book Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads: True Stories of Friends, Family, and Financial Ruin, you might remember Diana’s story, “Where Did All the Child Support Money Go?”

Diana’s troubles began when she married her high school sweetheart Bart, who turned out to be anything but sweet, she told me.

Instead, he was a raging alcoholic who slept around their small town in a Minneapolis suburb.

After eight years and three kids, Diana moved to Pittsburgh to live with her sister. While it was extremely painful to leave her children behind, Diana knew they needed a place to live, she explained.

Even if it meant staying with their father, who gambled away his paychecks and shacked up with a constant succession of girlfriends.

Bart garnished Diana’s wages to make sure she paid child support, but friends reported that her kids were neglected.

After Diana established herself in her new home, the kids were overjoyed to join her in Pittsburgh.

Typical deadbeat dad

Bart quickly became the quintessential deadbeat dad, shirking his economic obligations. He played the classic game by working under the table to reduce the amount he had to pay.

It wasn’t long before Bart was $20,000 behind on his court-ordered payments.

Child support authorities were powerless

The kids told Diana where their father lived and she reported it to the Minnesota child support authorities. But it didn’t matter; the government never managed to catch up with slippery Bart.

Unfortunately, in many cases the non-custodial parent gets away with not paying.

And that’s where Diana’s story ended when we first met.


I contacted Diana a few years later, after Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads was published. She was pleased to read her story and even showed it to her kids. It was “pretty darn accurate,” she told me.

I told her that I’m writing a sequel that includes updates on some of the original stories. I was sure that Bart never paid up, yet somehow she survived. I knew that she held down a good job and was in a stable relationship.

Diana had a most unexpected update for me.

Debt paid in full

She had received the full amount of the child support money. All $20,000.

Bart paid his debt?

Of course not.

Who did?

Bart stopped the carousal of women moving in and out of his house and he married Melissa. They had a daughter, but Bart hadn’t changed his ways; he drank all day and avoided anything that resembled regular employment.

One of Diana’s daughters called Melissa, who worked as a dental assistant, and asked her for help.

What? Why would Melissa want to help out her husband’s ex-wife with her problems?

It was quite simple, really.

Deadbeats go to jail

Diana explained: “Melissa paid Bart’s overdue child support to keep Bart out of jail.”

Melissa worked hard and forked over the entire $20,000 over 5 years because she didn’t want their own kid to grow up with an incarcerated father.

This woman paid the child support for another mother’s kids. Who had the same biological father as hers.

Was she a fool? Or strategic?

What do you think?

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Get a whole book of stories! Read the award-winning Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads: True Stories of Friends, Family, and Financial Ruin

Related posts:

Don’t Be a Deadbeat Mom
I’ll Bet You Don’t Know What a Deadbeat Is
The World’s Most Callous Deadbeat Dad
How to Beat a Deadbeat
Dirty Clothes and Money: What’s the Connection?

Image © iStock.com/Spauln