Policymakers Could Help Low-Income Fathers with Child Support Issues

All states require parents to financially support their children, and many state policies revolve around the child and their needs. However, many fathers ordered to pay child support have low income, and child support policies do not favor such fathers and their ability to successfully support their children. The following are only some policy points that lawmakers and courts could consider to help low-income fathers with child support matters.

Issuing Realistic Support Orders

Like other states, Florida law has child support guidelines that courts use to determine support orders. However, these guidelines do not necessarily take low-income fathers and their struggles to pay support into account. Courts do have discretion to adjust child support amounts when needed, and judges should consider whether a low-income parent will have sufficient income to cover their basic needs after their child support is paid. If not, it is more likely the parent will meet their basic needs first and fall behind on support payments. Adjusting support amounts from the start can help prevent this.

In addition, many child support orders are default orders because a father did not attend a court hearing. Some low-income fathers assume they will only get in trouble if they are struggling to pay and show up to court. This can result in a default order that is much higher than they can afford, which will only lead to more problems in the future. It is important for courts to encourage attendance at hearings and give parents another chance when needed instead of issuing a default order.

Employment Programs

It is often assumed that fathers do not pay child support because they do not care or are “deadbeat dads.” However, this is often not the case at all, as a father simply might not have the financial resources to make the court-ordered child support payments. This is often because a father faces challenges when it comes to obtaining proper employment, including poor training and employment history or low literacy.

By initiating programs that directly aim to help low-income fathers find suitable employment, states can help ensure that these fathers can afford their payments. Knowing a father’s employment situation and basing support orders that reflect their true income can help with a successful payment track record.

Modifying Unrealistic Orders

Many fathers who cannot afford to pay child support hide from the system instead of asking for help. They might not know that they can request a modification of child support if their circumstances warrant it. Granting a modification to slightly decrease support can result in more continuous payments, which can help everyone involved.

Learn How a Tampa Child Support Lawyer Can Help

If you are a father - or a mother - who is struggling to pay child support because of an unrealistic order or changing circumstances, you should not wait to speak with a Tampa child support attorney at the Law Office of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A. Call 813-227-9642 or contact us online to discuss your options today.