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Low income fathers may benefit from child support modification

Child support is important; it helps custodial parents in Massachusetts and elsewhere pay for the food, medical care and other necessities all children need. What happens, though, when a father is struggling economically and cannot make the court-ordered payments in the full amount? Instead of these fathers losing access to their children and the children losing the positive influence their male parent provides, many advocates are pushing for a modification of the child support system.

Granted, there are fathers who don't feel they should have to make their child support payments, for reasons ranging from anger at their exes to simple carelessness and more, and these men should – and do – face disciplinary action and repercussions. However, statistics show that a vast majority of fathers who owe child support make less than half of the median income in the United States. Should these men be punished by limiting their contact with their own children – or even with jail time – just because they cannot afford to pay?

Support can be defined in so many ways other than monetarily. Of course, children need their father's financial backing, but if a low-income father is incapable of scraping together what has been deemed the necessary amount, the current child support system is set up to then remove the father's companionship, time and emotional support from the child's life as well. Some of these fathers even face jail time for an issue that may be largely outside their control.

Currently, the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement is considering efforts to change the use of incarceration in situations involving fathers who are economically unable to meet their child support payments, instead advocating job search programs while continuing to allow men access to their children. Hopefully, this will help with long-term change in child support policies as well, working toward a payment system that more accurately and realistically reflects a non-custodial parent's income and ability to pay. Until then, anyone in the Massachusetts area who is struggling with child support issues may benefit from contacting a family law attorney to discuss payment modification.

Source:, "Revamp child support policies", Robert Crosnoe and Elizabeth Cozzolino, June 14, 2017

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