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Finding solutions to child support problems

In previous blogs, we've discussed the importance and purpose of child support payments. In most cases, for divorced parents or those who were never married but are no longer together, a noncustodial parent is ordered to pay child support.

In Minnesota, child support amounts are calculated by taking many factors into consideration including the gross incomes of both parents, the number of children being supported, other existing child support orders, child care costs and a child's medical and dental expenses. In cases where a noncustodial parent fails to pay or falls behind in payments, the state may employ several enforcement tactics.

Possible child support enforcement actions include the revocation of a non-paying parent's driver's or professional license as well as a formal court order mandating a parent's response and appearance in court. In cases where a parent fails to respond to an order, he or she may be sentenced to spend time in jail.

According to the U.S. Census Department, in 2009 women made up approximately 82 percent of custodial parents, meaning that U.S. fathers were, and likely still are, responsible for paying the bulk of child support payments. While most people would likely agree that those noncustodial parents who can pay child support should, in some cases noncustodial parents lack the means to pay support order amounts.

A 2007 study conducted by the Urban Institute study found that, in nine large states, 70 percent of parents who were delinquent in child support payments made less than $10,000 per year. However, despite living below the poverty line, these parents were ordered to pay an average of "83 percent of their income in child support."

In many cases, parents who are poor and unable to pay or fall behind in payments are thrown into jail. Consequently, the odds of these parents being able to make back and future payments is severely diminished as a jail sentence means they not only lose a current job but also experience difficulty securing future jobs.

Minnesota parents who are dealing with child support matters would be wise to contact an attorney. An attorney can assist in aiding custodial parents who are owed child support and also noncustodial parents who are suffering financially as a result of high support amounts.

Source: The New York Times, "Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat.," Frances Robles and Shaila Dewan, April 19, 2015

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