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New initiatives may help Maryland parents pay child support

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Although Maryland residents probably know more about what happens in Washington, D.C. than most other Americans, many may not have heard of the new report that was recently announced by the White House Domestic Policy Council. The report, titled "Promoting Responsible Fatherhood," discusses two initiatives which could impact the child support structure across the nation.

The first initiative concerns the way individual states use the federal funds that are most commonly used to prosecute non-custodial parents for failure to pay child support. The initiative will grant states a waiver to use these funds differently. Specifically, they will be allowed to use the federal dollars to fund programs that work to address why the child support payments are not being made in the first place, as well as programs that help parents look for and obtain jobs.

The second initiative calls for $10 million in grants to be provided on a competitive basis for those states that design and implement programs specifically tailored for non-custodial parents who are in a low-income position. This is important because a parent's income level often dictates whether he or she will be able to pay child support.

Maryland is one of twenty-nine states that currently have programs in place to assist non-custodial parents with child support obligations with finding employment. These policy announcements appear to show a shift in the federal approach regarding child support, going from enforcement of penalties for delinquent payments to rendering assistance in making and sustaining consistent payments.

Although the effects of the new initiatives have yet to be seen, it appears the new line of thinking is that it is better to help the non-custodial parent pay child support and be involved in their child's life than it is to simply prosecute them for non-payment.

Source: The Root, "Does Child Support Need an Update?" Cynthia Gordy, June 15, 2012

Source: WhiteHouse.gov, "Promoting Responsible Fatherhood"

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