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Documentary highlights problems with child support system

67084405_S.jpgA study by the Urban Institute found that 70 percent of the total child support debt owed in Illinois and across the U.S. is owed by parents who have no reported income or make less than $10,000 per year. Often, parents go into court on child support matters without a lawyer because they cannot afford one. They may be unprepared and uninformed regarding the basics of family law.

Many parents who are subject to child support orders do not know, for example, that they can ask the court to reassess their monthly payments if they change jobs or their financial situation otherwise changes. Failure to make required payments due to financial hardship can have damaging consequences: The non-paying parent may lose his or her driver's license or be sentenced to jail time. Both of those consequences can make it harder for the parent to earn money thereafter.

A feature-length documentary called "Where's Daddy?" addresses the issues facing parents who struggle with the child support system. The documentary argues that the system is especially damaging to black men. The children who are supposed to benefit from the system, too, are often victims of its shortcomings. Mothers struggle to make ends meet, and fathers suffer with heavy guilt and feelings of helplessness.

In a case where child support is an issue, an attorney may be able to help. An attorney with experience in family law may be able to secure funds on behalf of a client who is owed back child support or argue for a reassessment of payments for a client who has changed jobs. An attorney might draft and file documents to have a support order reexamined or argue on behalf of the client during family court proceedings. Retaining an attorney may make a positive difference in child custody, divorce or other family law matters.

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