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Child support guidelines under review

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the issue of child support payment and custody arrangements in many states, including Missouri. There are many "father's rights" organizations working nationwide to make changes to how states allocate custody and child support obligations.

This can be a very sensitive topic. While child support payments are ostensibly, as their name implies, for the support of the child or children after the divorce, they are seen by many as funding the mother at the expense of the father. Part of the problem comes from the use of anecdotal evidence, which tends to favor extreme cases.

The other issue is that men still tend out earn women. And the other stark reality that the courts must deal with is that 40 percent of single-parent families live in poverty.

Nebraska has created a panel to look at the issue, as critics have noted that at one time the state ranked very high across all income levels for child support. The state's guidelines are similar to 38 other states, including Missouri, and one expert suggested that by adjusting for some expenses they could avoid having to find a new model.

One recommendation was that the payment formula could be made more flexible and responsive to changes in father's employment and income. The current system can "punish" a father who loses a job and has difficulty finding new work. In a few months, they can feel they are hopelessly behind on their payments, with no way out.

Since the Great Recession, jobs have been more difficult obtain, and the old assumptions that a father obligated to pay child support can easily find a new job almost immediately may have to be adjusted to deal with the new economic realities.

Nonetheless, if you are obligated to pay child support and have lost your income, speaking with an attorney about your options as soon as possible is the best way to avoid falling behind on child support payments.

Omaha.com, "Panel weighs changes to Nebraska's child support guidelines," Joe Duggan, World-Herald, September 28, 2014

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