The lack of a father figure in these homes can come from various reasons. For example, separations, divorces, incarcerations, work, military, or security could encourage a missing father figure. However, it leaves a lasting impact on the child emotionally and financially, plus it can impact that child’s future in numerous ways.
In 2016, 36 million young men, under the age of 18, fathered 74 million children. Nine million of those children born do not live with their fathers.
Whatever the reason, the missing parent may be a deadbeat—especially when they provide no support to their child. The most common example is a custodial parent fighting to collect child support.
What is A Deadbeat Dad?
Colloquially a “deadbeat dad” is a person who has failed their parental responsibilities. The title is also formally called an “absentee father.”
Failed parental responsibilities can range from avoiding child support payments to violating custody arrangements.
Sometimes it can refer to a parent who refuses to make time for their children. Sometimes it can mean someone is not a “good” parent.
Being a deadbeat is not only monetary; it also questions the emotional relationship between the parent and children.
A Note on Deadbeat Moms
Although the terms refer specifically to men, either parent could be a “deadbeat” or an “absentee.”
The term is typically applied to men because women lead five out of six single-parent households. This statistic reinforces the idea that there are more “deadbeat dads” than “deadbeat moms.”
For that reason, the following sections will refer to “deadbeat dads” as a pejorative term.
Tracking Down A Deadbeat Dad
Gather All Identifying Information
Start with the information you know first. Utilize all information you know to build a "short list" focused on where the person may be. This information will also be hugely helpful if a custodial parent chooses to sue over child support or custody.
All information about him is fair game, and all of it is important. Try to get his:
- His full real name, all variations of it, any nicknames, or any aliases
- Addresses associated with him, including his family’s or any friends’
- Any current or past employers, coworkers, or social groups
- His criminal record, if he has one, and all information related to it
- Any unique identifiers like a Social Security Number or birthday
- Any of his known online or social account names, usernames, or tags
- Essential information like a phone number or email address
Search Public Records
Public records are an indispensable tool to aid in finding deadbeat dads. They are “public” because the information within them is not confidential.
These records also generally relate to statuses relevant to the government or relations to other people and entities (i.e., employer).
Some websites provide all of a person’s public information for a fee. Others can only give a few pieces of information. Many things are considered public records. Mug shots, jail sentences, and criminal records are all public records.
Additionally, there is no way to remove or hide this public information, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. Utilizing a public records service is the best avenue a mother can take to track down their deadbeat spouse.
Public records can include a person’s:
- Online social media or gaming accounts
- Any images or videos connected to them
- Possible relatives and relationships
- House liens or mortgages
- Property and asset records
- Professional licenses
- Political contributions
- Employment and education
Use Social Media
Don’t underestimate the power of social media.
Social media websites have been some of the easiest ways to locate missing people for the last half-decade. This is especially true for people who use Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, or Whatsapp.
These social platforms offer location elements that the user must turn off. A deadbeat might not have the forethought to turn that off.
Also, paying attention to special-interest sites like Reddit could give you essential information.
It's also worth noting that there are specific sites like Ashley Madison. These are websites where people find others interested in having affairs. Finding evidence of strange websites on devices could help determine where they went.
Another route that custodial parents take is making the family-wide Facebook announcement. This maximizes visibility for those online, but be careful. More drama can come from that post than what is necessary.
Keep in Touch with Their Family Members
A great way to keep tabs on any deadbeat is by being friendly with their family. As an ex, a deadbeat will probably avoid you and not give any information to you.
That doesn’t mean they won’t blab to their sister about something important. And if they do, being friendly with her will give you a leg up on your ex. (Perfect for serving them papers.)
That being said, even though this is an excellent way to keep tabs on a deadbeat’s whereabouts—it’s unnecessary.
It is crucial to make the optionality of this clear. Being in a friendly relationship with an ex’s family can be difficult, and it is not a solution for many. Those who can stomach their ex’s family are a lucky few.
Those who can’t stomach their ex’s family play the social media game. Friend them back, but don’t speak to them.
Hire A Lawyer
At some point in the process, custodian parents should always get a lawyer. Deadbeats may attempt to find their own as well.
Lawyers are indispensable in getting child support, restraining orders, custody battles, and more. The good ones are even on time.
Having a lawyer on your side gives you a laundry list of benefits, including:
- Legal support and experience
- Professional documentation and forms
- Authority of the courts
- Insider knowledge about the systems
There are custodial parents and deadbeat parents. Deadbeats are the ones that fail their parental responsibilities. When that happens, it’s on the custodial to pursue their ex for the good of their children.
Some deadbeats will flee and refuse to pay child support or take custody of their kids. If they do flee, however, there are a few ways to track them down. Just make sure to document everything—and always get a lawyer.