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Maryland county helps fathers meet child support obligations

An initiative introduced by the Child Support Program of one Maryland county's Department of Social Services aims to help non-custodial parents make more timely child support payments and become more involved in their children's lives. The Young Father's Program in Talbot County, which is just across the Chesapeake from Annapolis, helps participants find gainful employment and avoid the pitfalls that come with failing to pay child support.

The punishments for failing to pay child support in Maryland can be harsh. Noncustodial parents who do not stay up to date on scheduled payments face punishment like wage reduction, suspension of driving privileges and tax intercepts. Parents who repeatedly fail to pay child support despite a court order instructing them to do so may be held in contempt of court, potentially resulting in jail time.

Supporters of the program point to statistics from 2011 to demonstrate the initiative's success. A total of 63 fathers were enrolled in the program during that year, 61 of whom were able to secure jobs through the county's Noncustodial Employment Program. The program's coordinator explained that the program is designed to help fathers remove barriers in their lives and provide them with employment readiness.

Several fathers who participated in the program said it gave them the independence and hope they needed to better support their children. One said the program has allowed him to be independent and to show his children a good life.

While programs such as this do help some Maryland fathers make child support payments, thousands of other noncustodial parents struggle with unaffordable or out-of-date support obligations. Such individuals may be able to seek a modification of their monthly payment amounts.

Source: Star Democrat, "Young Father's Program helps dads support their children," June 15, 2012

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