This topic originally appeared in the CNN article, ‘Dead Beat Kenya’ Facebook page claims to expose absentee parents by Faith Karimi. The article is worth the read as it does a fair job laying out both sides of the controversy of labeling a child’s non-custodial parent a “dead beat” on social media.

In the age where anyone can create a Facebook page on almost any topic, some folks in Kenya administer a Facebook group page called Dead Beat Kenya. It serves as a sort of portal where custodial parents (CPs) share information revealing the identities of alleged non-custodial parents (NCPs) with the goal of shaming those NCPs into providing child support. The use of public shaming could be an effective means of calling the wayward to moral duty, but are there any costs? What of the legal ramifications such as causing defamation or offending an NCP’s due process rights? As mentioned in the article, what if the NCP is a teenager? Or more practically in the social media court of public opinion, who will attest to the validity of paternity, i.e., whether an alleged NCP is truly a child’s father? Who will confirm how much past monies an alleged NCP really owes for past nonsupport? It seems the risks of posting to social media that an alleged parent is a “dead beat” may not be worth the costs of a potential defamation lawsuit or due process challenge.

The best solution to the problem of NCPs not performing their moral duty of supporting their children remains the use of the force of law. Where a child support enforcement legal system is corrupted by money or bias (as suggested by some Kenyan women in the article), the bigger solution is to correct the legal system and instill the value of the rule of law. Under the rule of law, every single parent has a fighting chance to obtain the financial support they deserve for their child. The United States is fortunate to have a national IV-D child support system to help fight the scourge of nonsupport. It’s blessed to have an army of local private family law attorneys who can take up the fight on behalf of their CP clients. While the system in the States is far from perfect and there remain potential millions of single parents who struggle to get the support help they need for their children, the American single parent is far more likely to actually get the help when compared to parents in other parts of the world.

Off topic, this all reminds me why non-cohabiting parents are usually best to obtain a child support court order as early as possible. An order could keep them from ever dealing with the social media drama just described. This is especially true for the NCP. I’ve stated before child support orders benefit the NCP. Without the certainty of court orders, some aggrieved CPs may feel the need to take to social media to get justice, despite the legal risks to her. With the potential for that kind of bad publicity, why any NCP would go without getting himself a child support order is beyond me.

Here’s the link to the original CNN article: ‘Dead Beat Kenya’ Facebook page claims to expose absentee parents.

The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between the writer and reader. It is prudent to speak with an attorney before making any major legal decision.

Mac Pierre-Louis, an attorney at The Law Office of Pierre-Louis & Carr, PLLC based in Houston, TX, writes about child support law issues. He is bar licensed only in the states of Texas and Florida.

Image: Facebook.com