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Once jailed father: payments to support a child can be unfair

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Parents who have been through a divorce know the difficulty in settling various disputes. The disagreements can range from the distribution of assets to child custody and child support. All of these issues are important, but those pertaining to children require special attention. The determination of child custody, visitation and child support can have a lasting effect on the child, and can leave parents feeling left out or unable to pay for their child's needs. One family has suffered from child support problems and their situation serves as an example of the damage high child support payments can cause.

According to one man's account, when he was divorced he was a successful mortgage banker and was thus required to pay $1,000 a month in child support. The man later lost his job, but his child support payment modification took 11 months to get approved. Unable to make his payments, the man was forced to serve 30 days in jail. According to the banker, and several across the country, high child support payments like this are unfair, requiring them to pay while leaving them out of their child's life.

When parents get divorced they can always negotiate the amount of child support payments. However, in Arizona, when an agreement cannot be reached a court will typically apply the Arizona child support guidelines. The court will then use a formula to determine how much child support should be paid. The formula takes into account the parents' income, the child's age, the amount of parenting time, and which parent pays for the child's health needs. An experienced family law attorney can walk a parent through the process and help them determine how much child support they will have to pay under the guidelines.

While paying child support is ideal for a child, sometimes unexpected life changes make payment impossible. Unemployment or a medical condition can leave a parent without the necessary income to provide their child with the required support. Working together, the parent and an attorney may be able to negotiate a child support modification. These cases are always about the best interests of the child, but sending a parent to jail or leaving them broke works against the goal of keeping the parent-child relationship strong.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Child Support: Man Says He Was An 'ATM Machine' After Divorce," Jun. 19, 2013