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Resources and resolutions for child support problems

When a parent has a difficult time meeting a child support obligation, that parent and child can suffer any number of adverse effects. When a parent is behind, unemployed or incarcerated, his or her ability to meet a child support obligation can be terribly compromised. Unfortunately, a parents in Missouri may have no idea what to do to catch up or what resources are available to help both the child and parent avoid the negative consequences of missed child support payments and increasing child support debt.

Some states are taking the approach of educating parents. Some parents have been unaware or confused as to why buying food or clothes for a child does not count as support. Others seem to be unsure of the steps to take if they lose a job or need a reduction in support. Classes and reminders sent through the mail have shown to be effective in helping parents understand the system, and the classes have seen an increase in attendance in one state.

Another approach outside of education and presenting parents with options is actively wiping out some of the back-due debt. One program chips away at a percentage of back-due debt if a parent participates in a job training program. Once a parent makes consistent payments for an entire year, an even larger percentage of back-due child support is eradicated.

Studies have shown that once parents in Missouri and elsewhere fall behind or struggle with child support payments, those parents feel the situation is hopeless. Rather than going deeper in debt, suffering negative consequences or not meeting the needs of the child who needs support, the parent can take part in these programs and educational classes, which are aimed at helping those who are struggling with support. When struggling parents understand their options and can take advantage of local programs and legal help, they can be better prepared to meet their support obligations and perhaps mitigate their overall support debt.

Source: npr.org, "Some States Are Cutting Poor Dads A Deal On Unpaid Child Support", Jennifer Ludden, Nov. 20, 2015

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