Is it acceptable for a Christian to demand child support by law?


I do not know what a Christian should do. It is not pleasing to God for Christians to take each other to court or to take other people to court but what about in the case of child support? He suffers more than I do because he has many debts and has no money. On the other hand, I really believe that as a father, he owes his children a proper education and for their sake I am afraid that I need to take legal actions to force him to pay child support.The children are almost grown. In fact they are adults themselves but continuing their education. It seems wrong to me for a son to have to take his father to court. I have been advised, legally speaking, to take him to court and demand child support for his children’s education. I do not know what to do in this situation. Is it a sin to take him to court and demand child support? Should I do it if it is for my children’s benefit and not my own?

I assume you had the following passage from the Bible in mind when you were trying to decide what to do about a husband’s/father’s obligations to his children:

1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints ? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world ? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts ? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels ? How much more matters of this life ? 4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church ? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers ? 7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged ? Why not rather be defrauded ? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren. 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6)

This passage deals with two Christian church members who have an agreement among themselves and could take their case before the church for advice. Instead of handling the conflict in the church, they mock the name of Christ by taking their case to civil court. In your case, you have already gone to court at least once in order to obtain an official divorce. The father of these children is already obligated to support them financially and he is evading his responsibilities. The fact that he has debts does not excuse him from being a parent and fulfilling his obligations. Debts are one of the thousands of excuses that people appeal to when they want to avoid being responsible. Obviously the man has not been responsible since the divorce and it seems that you need to remind him of his debt to his children by taking legal action otherwise, he will continue avoiding his responsibilities.

Translation by: Erik Brewer