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How paternity has become more important in child support

With social, economic and demographic changes making the concept of the nuclear family less dominant in this country, including Arkansas, some 17 million children in the United States now live with one parent. With single parenting becoming an accepted norm, the importance of ordering and enforcing the collection of child support has increased. Along with it has come the need to ensure that paternity is established in cases in which a child’s biological parents were never married.

The modern child-support system dates back some 40 years to a time when traditional roles were still common. Fathers were generally family providers, and mothers were caretakers and homemakers. A child’s paternity was generally not questioned. Nowadays, however, with millions of children being born to unmarried parents, the issue of what male might be legally required to provide support has become more important. All states now attempt to determine paternity to limit the financial costs of child support to taxpayers.

Some critics of the current child-support system believe that it needs to be updated aside from issues of paternity. They do not think it serves the interests of children and tends to target fathers, who are not normally the noncustodial parents, for the enforcement and collection of child support. Men with higher earnings often have no difficulty paying child support, but many of those who live below the poverty line have problems making ends meet. With wages across the economy stagnant, unmarried fathers may find it difficult to pay child support even if paternity determines they are responsible and must pay it.

Many current policy makers believe fathers should be socially entrusted to have a greater role in parenting beyond just paying child support, whether or not they were ever married to their children’s mothers. They can play a wholesome role in rearing and upbringing of children. Pulaski County fathers who find that they are having financial problems with paying their ordered child support should meet with a family law attorney as soon as possible to review their options.

Source: The Boston Globe, “How ‘deadbeats’ can still be good dads,” Ruth Graham, Dec. 5, 2014

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