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What exactly are the best interests of the child and the family?

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Many of our Maryland readers are used to dealing with family law issues in the context of a divorce. This is common, but it can be easy to forget that many family law issues, like determining child support, can be an issue between unmarried couples as well.

A recent article examined some of the problems Maryland residents may face when dealing with child support, both from the perspective of unmarried couples and married couples going through a divorce. For instance, it is becoming more common for couples to have children today even though they aren't married. So, if that couple breaks up, usually the two sides will need to reach some kind of child support agreement so that the child's every day expenses are taken care of. However, what if the couple decides to give it a second go later on, for the benefit of the child? Will the benefits one person receives from the government hold them back?

Many of society's safety nets, usually bunched together under the umbrella of "welfare," aim to help single mothers and young children. But, as the article noted, does this approach actually hinder the possibility that the father of the child could re-enter the family life?

When examining child support in the context of divorce it is easy to put aside notions of a couple reconciling. Only a very small percentage of couples who go through a divorce later get re-married to each other. However, society is changing, with more unmarried people having children. Taking a good hard look at the goals of welfare programs may be a way to get to what many people would probably consider to be the best result: a united and happy family.

Source: Aljazeera America, "Dead broke, not deadbeat: Baltimore rethinks welfare policy," Alia Malek, Jan. 15, 2014

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