‘Counting On’: Could Jim Bob Duggar Really Get Away With Not Paying His Children?

Derick Dillard is holding nothing back. The father of two and law school student has been pretty open about his strained relationship with the Duggar family. At least, it seems he’s as transparent as legally possible. Derick’s favorite topic seems to be the pay structure for Counting On. He has stated, repeatedly, that the only person getting paid for series is Jim Bob Duggar. Family followers are wondering how Jim Bob and his wife, Michelle Duggar, and TLC could get away with that. The Duggars, however, wouldn’t be the first family accused of exploiting their children, and apparently, the laws surrounding reality TV makes it super easy.

Derick Dillard claims none of the Duggar kids are paid for their time

In the Duggar family, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are a minor or a legal adult; no one but Jim Bob is making bank on the family’s reality TV show. At least that is what Derick claims. Derick has insisted that the family patriarch is the only person who gets a paycheck from the production company behind Counting On. The kids are expected to film as volunteers, according to Derick.

Derick began sounding the alarm several months ago when he told a Twitter follower that he and his wife were volunteers and thus could not have been fired by the production company behind the show. He later doubled down and insisted that Jim Bob is hoarding pay from the series, even though, technically, the series isn’t about Jim Bob anymore. That has led fans to question whether Derick’s accusations are real, and If they are, exactly how the Duggar family is getting away with it. It turns out; It might be legal.

Reality TV kids are not protected under current entertainment laws

Children who star on reality TV shows don’t have the same safeguards as child stars who appear in sitcoms or movies in many states. The Los Angeles Times noted that, in 2010, TLC had not obtained any work permits to employ minors for the family’s original series, 19 Kids and Counting. At the time, only four of the family’s 19 children were over the age of 18. All 19 kids, however, did appear, at one point or another, on the series. Several of the then-teens were heavily featured in episodes.  

When a state allows a production company to utilize minors without work permits, they are essentially allowing the production house to assume the children, who by and large are actors, aren’t doing a job. Production companies have claimed that reality TV kids are merely living their lives with a camera following them around. Jacob Roloff, who appeared on Little People, Big World for several years, has been outspoken about the issue. He has stated that the legal grey area opens minors up to exploitation.

Family-based shows tend to cut one paycheck

Roloff has been pretty outspoken about how easy it is for young children to be taken advantage of in the television industry. When Roloff and his family began their work on Little People, Big World, reality TV was uncharted territory. The popularity of the genre has grown substantially, but that doesn’t mean it has caught up with more traditional genres. In fact, family-based shows, especially those that feature minor children, generally don’t cut individual checks for each actor. Instead, they cut one check for the group, and the guardians are expected to divvy the money up as necessary. Each family can choose to do what they want.

Jon Gosselin and Kate Gosselin, for example, created trust funds for each of their eight children. It’s unknown how much they put into each account. At the time, there was no set amount that each child had to receive. Jim Bob and Michelle seem to use an “allowance” system in the form of property to keep their kids on the air long after they have the legal right to make decisions for themselves.