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Modification in child support help parents find jobs

When parents divorce, the end result is usually a formal division both parenting rights and responsibilities. The parent who does not retain primary physical custody is often tasked with providing financial support for his or her children through means of child support payments. However, if the aftermath of a turbulent economic recession, many Massachusetts parents find these payments difficult to bear, and are unaware that they can ask for a modification in their existing child support order.

There is a difference between those who voluntarily refuse to pay child support and those who truly cannot afford to pay. Governmental agencies have been pushing toward better collection efforts to encourage parents to make their child support payments and pay them in a timely manner. A modification to child support program in one state, a project called Catalyst, is helping parents who cannot afford to pay to find jobs so that they can meet those obligations.

The Catalyst project's main purpose is to help unemployed parents find work. The program sets up a seek-work plan, provides job training and places parents in jobs. It also assists unemployed, noncustodial parents in obtaining new payment orders that can make the financial side of things more manageable.

Studies have shown that parents who are ordered to pay $75 or less per month for child support meet that requirement only 30 percent of the time. Parents who are ordered to pay $450 a month, on the other hand, have a payment rate of 80 percent. The program hopes to reverse negative views about the child support system and provide support for parents who need it, rather than initiating punishments which could make it even harder for them to help support their children.

The modification of child support orders is one way that Massachusetts parents can address a temporary or chronic inability to make their current payment level. Family courts can help parents ensure that their monthly child support payments are fair and reasonable. Programs such as the one outlined here offer resources to help ease financial strain, giving parents the tools needed to properly support the financial side of raising happy and healthy kids.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, Child support: Nonpaying parents may get job help, Rita Price, March 8, 2014

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