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Child support debt does not have to mean jail time

For many Connecticut parents, meeting their monthly child support obligation has become increasingly difficult in recent years. A sluggish economy and slowly recovering job market have left many parents struggling to make ends meet. While the vast majority of non-custodial parents have the intention and desire to provide for their children, there are cases in which conditions out of their control have made it impossible to sustain pre-existing levels of child support.

The recent story of a man jailed for outstanding child support payments has caught the attention of many parents on both sides of the child support equation. The man was labeled by the U.S. Justice Department as the 'Most Wanted Deadbeat Parent,' and owes his now-grown daughters and two ex-wives more than $1 million in past due child support. He was recently arrested on a federal warrant, and awaiting trial in the matter.

In most cases, jail time is not the best solution for addressing unpaid child support. In the case mentioned here, the father simply stopped making child support payments and later fled the county. However, in many cases, the non-custodial parent simply experiences a form of temporary hardship. The best course of action in these circumstances may be approaching a family court to ask for a reduction in the payment amount.

Connecticut family courts have the ability to make adjustments in the amount of child support a non-custodial parent is obligated to pay. When proper documentation is available to prove a reduction in income or a job loss, it is possible to ask for a reduction. In some cases, the appropriate request is a temporary reduction that will allow the paying parent the opportunity to regain financial stability while still providing for the care of their child or children. In the end, the best interest of the child remains the standard, and parents who can present a fully reasoned legal argument on why their child support payment should be reduced have a solid chance for success in the matter.

Source: The New York Times, "Huge Child-Support Debt Doesn't Ensure Time in Jail," Mosi Secret, Dec. 30, 2012

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