Most of our Maryland readers probably know that a stable family unit is one of the best ways to advance the individual family members, in terms of education, income and happiness. But not all families consist of the stereotypical "nuclear family" unit these days. In fact, the traditional household consisting of a set of parents and their children seems to becoming more of an exception than the rule. When families break up or begin as separate units, there may be problems involving the family members and the legal system. When it comes to child support obligations, the problems can have consequences for the family and for society in general.
A recent article from a popular Maryland news source has suggested that the legal requirements of child support agreements are sometimes disproportionately burdensome on lower-income parents - fathers, in particular. When some young men have children but don't have a good paying job or a decent education, the failure to pay child support becomes a very real possibility.
In Maryland alone there are millions of dollars owed in unpaid child support. Sometimes these arrears accumulate while a parent is imprisoned. Other times, it is because the parent has a job where they work for cash. Either way, there is no way for the state's collection methods to garnish wages or intercept tax returns to apply those funds toward child support obligations.
The article also noted that the threat of these legal intervention methods may drive some to participate in an "underground economy" in which they are forced to participate in illegal activities involving cash-only transactions, so as to stay "off the grid."
Child support obligations may be problematic for the parent who is ordered to pay. However, these parents should argue for a child support agreement modification in court, citing their lack of resources to pay the amount ordered. When child support obligations can't be met, the answer is not to avoid the problem - the answer is to seek the right information so that a solution can be found.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Hurting dads, hurting kids," David L. Warnock, Oct. 21, 2012