There are numerous child support issues that cause persistent headaches for divorced dads. The fact is, the modern child support system is laced with errors and inefficiencies that do more to rip families apart than actually support them.
The child support system covers about a quarter of American children and provides a financial safety net for many families, but its shortcomings are painfully obvious.
Here are some of the most common child support issues that dads encounter.
Child Support Issues For Low-Income Dads
According to the Boston Globe, 29 percent of families in the child support system live below the federal poverty line. This is hugely problematic because child support law is unduly harsh on lower-income families. If a father ever falls behind and allows child support arrears to accumulate, it can be difficult to ever get out from under that debt.
Research shows many fathers who miss payments do so because they are unable to pay, not unwilling. Figuring out how and when to modify a support order is confusing and many dads can’t afford an attorney to help them so they end up doing nothing. It’s very easy for the situation to snowball to the point that they owe thousands in child support arrears.
Child Support Issues For The Unemployed
Child support issues get even more problematic if you lose your job since payments don’t necessarily automatically stop during unemployment.
If you find yourself unexpectedly out of work, it is important to act as quickly as possible to modify your child support order. Although it is a hassle and you might have to pay an attorney to help, it can end up saving you dearly in the long run.
Some dads make the mistake of just paying what they can afford at that moment or trying to work out an informal agreement with their ex, but these are not valid solutions. Child support arrears will keep adding up and an informal agreement will not hold up in court.
If you are an unemployed father with child support issues and need help figuring out how to modify your support order, get in touch with a family law attorney as soon as possible so you don’t end up owing more back child support than you can afford.
Child Support Law Creates Debtors’ Prisons
With so many low-income parents in the system who are unable to pay their owed child support, it is inevitable that their child support arrears start to accumulate. When that happens, the state can pursue a number of enforcement procedures, including revoking the payor’s driver’s license, garnishing his wages, intercepting tax income refunds, or even throwing him in jail.
Even when a dad is in prison, his child support payments do not necessarily pause, and once he is released his odds of finding a decent job are diminished since the employment prospects of former inmates are so dire.
That makes it even tougher to make future payments and pay off owed child support. You can see how this establishes a vicious cycle that essentially creates a system of debtors’ prisons.We’d be better off working to craft a system that keeps both parents actively engaged ... Click To Tweet
Child Support Enforcement
Current child support law places a major emphasis on child support enforcement while failing to do much to make sure both parents stay active and engaged in their children’s lives.
In 2013, the Federal Parent Locator Service collected $32 billion in unpaid child support. Child support enforcement is important, especially when it comes to collecting payments from irresponsible parents trying to buck responsibility, but as previously noted the deadbeat dad stereotype is more of a myth than reality. Research shows that fathers see their kids less often if they owe back child support, which is a problem when they simply can’t come up with the money despite their best efforts.
Perhaps one of the biggest child support issues is that the system is so fixated on monetary support. Rather than focusing so much on child support enforcement and dollar amounts, we’d be better off working to craft a system that keeps both parents actively engaged in their children’s lives.
A National Parents Organization 50-state review of the shared parenting laws in the United States revealed glaring parental inequality across the nation. As important as financial support is, it is even more crucial for a child’s development to have an involved and loving father in their life. That point resonated deeply with journalist Kimberly Seals Allers when she decided to forgive her ex-husband of nearly $40k owed child support to make sure he remained in their children’s lives.
Child support enforcement is important so long as it isn’t overemphasized. The overall goal of child support law should be to help support the healthy upbringing of the children in the system and too often it does the opposite.
The number of seemingly nonsensical child support issues divorced fathers face is staggering. If you are a dad struggling to understand child support law or having trouble paying off owed child support, it is a good idea to consult with a family law attorney who can explain how the system works so you don’t get stuck paying more than you should be.