Ideally, the child support system should ensure all the financial necessities needed to raise a child are covered, with both parents providing fair and adequate contributions.

However, time and time again the system fails in this regard. In fact, because of a number of outdated gender biases that still pervade family courts, the system often does just the opposite.

As a law firm that has fought to protect the rights of men and fathers for more than 25 years, our Cordell & Cordell attorneys regularly work with dads who have fallen behind on their support payments despite their best efforts. These are fathers who sincerely love their children more than anything and do everything within their power to provide for them but who have fallen into an unending cycle of debt and arrears because of a system that unfairly punishes non-custodial parents.

Here are three ways in which this counterproductive system rips families apart.

The system creates debtors prisons

Completing payments is an arduous task for many parents because 29 percent of the families in the child support system live below the federal poverty line.

Should a parent face a professional setback, matters get even worse because child support does not stop during unemployment. For many, this is when debt starts to snowball and it soon becomes impossible to catch up.

In extreme cases, a parent can be incarcerated for failing to make payments if a court determines they are capable of finding a meaningful job. This is a worst-case scenario as arrears continue racking up while the individual is imprisoned.

Many judges hold a cynical attitude when it comes to enforcing child support. Their notion is once a parent who is “unable” to pay child support is faced with a prison sentence, the money will suddenly appear.

That is sometimes the case but not necessarily because the parent was hiding the money. Friends and family often come to the rescue and incur a financial hardship they did not do anything to deserve.

Incidentally, debtor prisons were founded on this same assumption and that is not a system we want to emulate.

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