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Massachusetts children may benefit from child support enforcement

Most Massachusetts parents want what is best for their children. Studies have demonstrated that the more opportunities and resources children have access to, the better they do. However, it takes money to be able to afford those resources, and this is where things can get complicated for single parents with limited income. This, then, is why child support enforcement can be so important.

Both enhanced cognitive development and decreased behavioral issues in children have been linked to child support. This can be attributed to several reasons. When both parents are contributing financially, income obviously increases, providing more opportunities and better care for the child. Child support also seems related to greater parental involvement, especially on the part of the father; research indicates that fathers who pay child support tend to have increased contact with their children, which in turn may lead to stronger familial relationships. In addition, an absence of formal child support appears to be directly related to higher stress levels for the custodial parent, which is said to result in poorer outcomes for the child.

For these reasons and more, the federal Child Support Enforcement Program was established to make sure children receive financial support from both parents, even when the parents were never married. In 1996, the program was further reinforced, resulting in an increased percentage of support from absent parents and thus an increase in resources for children in single-parent homes. Since then, however, the system has seen a marked decrease of eligible families entering the program.

It is undeniably true that many non-custodial parents may find it difficult at times to financially support their children, especially in cases where employment opportunities are limited or unreliable. However, this does not mean that the parent can shirk his or her responsibility, and the child support order will remain in effect unless and until the court grants a formal application to modify it. A custodial parent in Massachusetts who is struggling with issues of child support enforcement might benefit from seeking the counsel of an attorney with experience in family law.

Source: aei.org, "Don't let absent parents off the hook", Angela Rachidi, Dec. 1, 2016

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