Child Support Issues
Being ordered to pay child support until the child becomes an adult is especially challenging for adolescents and young adults who may have no means of providing financial support. Some states order minimal amounts if a father is still in school, but many young fathers struggle to make regular payments. Because unpaid child support can lead to overwhelming arrearages, fatherhood program staff should help fathers develop the means and motivation to pay their child support and help them modify support orders when necessary. Working with local child support offices and inviting child support representatives to speak with program staff and fathers are good strategies to ensure increased understanding of child support policies and procedures. If program staff know how to obtain and complete required forms, they are better able to help fathers navigate a system that can seem overwhelming. Similarly, working with child support staff as partners can make it easier to resolve issues before they get out of hand. Programs should also ensure that fathers know their parental rights, understand the benefits for themselves and their children of establishing paternity, and are familiar with basic terms and procedures if they need to go to court for custody or visitation.
For more information and tips on forming effective child support partnerships, see our Child Support, Custody, Visitation page, which includes NRFC archived webinars on working with child support, and for more information on paternity establishment see The Importance of Establishing Paternity page of the Toolkit’s Working with Non-Residential Fathers section.