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A call to focus on the "child" in child support

Recently in the news (and on this blog as well), reports and comments circulated around a man who owed over $1 million in delinquent child support payments. Reactions to the man's story and the consequences of his actions were often strong and emotional. Anyone going through the difficult process of divorce and dealing with a child support dispute understands how high and hot emotions can run with regard to this topic.

One writer used the news story, and particularly the reactions to it, to make a plea for a different approach to the whole realm of divorce. While many people quickly and vociferously voiced their displeasure with the man, the writer urged divorcing parents to take a step back and look at the larger picture. Noting that child support and visitation time unfortunately can become bargaining chips in disputes, she calls for divorcing parents to be aware of the consequences of legal actions on the children themselves. The writer ultimately questions whether the end results of state-mandated child support payments truly benefit the child, which should be the ultimate aim of all involved.

Enforcement of state-mandated child support settlements, especially when one parent is unable or unwilling to pay, can lead to different consequences depending on the state. In Massachusetts, failure to pay child support could lead to a felony charge, a serious crime. The unfortunate paradox is that a parent in jail for not paying child support has no chance at ever being able to support the child, financially or emotionally.

Experienced legal professionals can offer assistance to either party in a child support dispute and help keep bitter ex-spouses focused on the needs of the child. It may even be possible to seek a modification to a settlement if a parent's financial situation changes. Cognizance of changes in parents' situations could help engender a culture where child support truly takes into account the best interests of the child. That is a sentiment everyone should be able to support.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Deadbeat parents? State Mandated Child Support Hurts the Ones It's Supposed to Help," Ellen Kellner, March 15, 2013

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