In the Best Interest of Our Children

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Theresa Robinson/Lesson # 9

In the Best Interest of Our Children

We live in a country where one million children are involved in a new divorce every year, according to "Divorce Magazine". With statistics like this, there is an obvious need for the laws we have that govern child custody and support. Some of these laws are made at the federal level while others vary from state to state. Regardless of who regulates child custody and support laws, they are said to be in the best interest of the children, but are they really? Is it in the best interest of a child to arrest and jail their parent who is working and paying child support (sometimes as much as half of their income) just because they are unable to pay obligations that are beyond their reach? It seems we are turning blue-collar workers into criminals which is definitely NOT in the best interest of the children.

The child support system is persistently unaffected by the economic realities working people face, such as layoffs, wage cuts, work-related injuries and unemployment. According to the Urban Institute, only one-in-twenty non-custodial parents who suffers a substantial decrease in income is able to get courts to reduce their child support payments. Additionally, federal law prohibits child-support orders from being retroactively modified, no matter how mistaken or ridiculous. Even those who fell behind on their support because they had cancer or heart attacks cannot have their arrearages eliminated. The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data shows that two-thirds of those behind on child support earned poverty-level wages; less than four percent of the national child support debt is owed by those earning above $40,000 a year.

Child support orders should be subject to an annual review if either parent has just cause to request such a review. Parents should be able to initiate and complete this review process in a timely manner, without having the added...
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