Is it “noncustodial” or “non-custodial?” When you refer to a parent without sole custody of their child, should you use a hyphen or not?
According to the Chicago Manual of Style, you shouldn’t use a hyphen with any “non” word unless there is a clear reason, such as to avoid doubling a letter (e.g. non-native). Indeed, the Merriam-Webster definition of the word doesn’t include a hyphen.
Frankly, I think it’s fine to use a hyphen. Whether you write “noncustodial” or “non-custodial,” a reader will understand what you mean.
What’s clearly not acceptable is when noncustodial dads are clueless about the laws and bureaucratic systems associated with child support. For those of us who serve these dads, it’s vital to educate them about child support so they can meet this financial obligation and afford their child support payments.
That’s easier said than done. How many of us who serve dads know the ins and outs of child support? Where do you find information on child support that’s easy to digest? Where do you find the most critical information to know about child support?
Fortunately, the Center for Family and Policy Practice offers the free Top 10 Points for Noncustodial Parents Dealing with the Child Support System video and downloadable handout.
The first five points are:
- Find out as much as you can about the caseworkers and court representatives you meet with—their titles, their power to make decisions, and their power to change decisions.
- The court can proceed with your case if you don’t show up for a court hearing.
- Make certain that you understand any document you sign.
- Know the consequences of signing a document before you sign it.
- Visitation and custody are separate processes that the child support agency may not handle.
Use this resource to educate the noncustodial dads you serve.
For another great resource that educates noncustodial dads on child support and other critical issues many of them face, acquire the FatherTopicsTM Collection for Non-Custodial Dads Booster Sessions. (Yep…we used a hyphen.) Use them as stand-alone workshops or integrate them with 24/7 Dad®, 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad™, or any other fatherhood program.
How much do the noncustodial dads you serve know about the child support system?
How much do you and your fellow staff know about the child support system?