Kajko, Weisman & Colasanti, LLP

Parents not getting enough child support but not seeking help?

A new census report confirms what is a common fear among parents who might hesitate to file for divorce. Though the idea of staying with a partner who makes one unhappy or who is not good for the family as a whole might make divorce sound like the simple answer, money matters can create a speed bump.

A common fear among parents contemplating divorce is that there won't be enough money for their kids to get by. Divorce doesn't just end a marriage. It results in multiple households and divided earnings. Parents can become more strapped for cash than they were while married, impacting what child support could be available for the children involved.

A U.S. Census Bureau survey indicates that child support is an area of struggle among divorced parents in Massachusetts and the country overall. Many custodial parents will be awarded child support through the family courts, but many of those orders, according to the study, are not followed.

The census doesn't identify exactly why the reported $14 billion of owed child support goes unpaid every year. An obvious theory would be that the parents who are supposed to make the payments don't have the money. If that is the case, however, then critics of the child support delinquencies question why more parents are not fighting through the courts to remedy the financial struggle.

Parents on both sides of the child support matter have rights. A family court's ruling regarding support owed should be based on relevant financial information. Finances among parties can change, which is understood within the family courts. A parent who can't afford the child support he's legally required to pay might more ethically act on that reality by seeking an official modification of child support instead of skipping payments altogether.

A family law attorney in the state could best explain Massachusetts' modification of orders laws and how they might help support a more fair, doable arrangement for all parties involved.


Source: Los Angeles Times, "Billions of dollars in child support go unpaid yearly," Emily Alpert Reyes, Nov. 20, 2013

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