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How to ease child support contention outside of the courtroom

Fewer topics causes a deeper division among parents than the issue of child support. While no one would argue against both parents contributing to a shared child's needs, the manner in which child support is currently handled is a source of significant debate. Often, Colorado parents cannot see eye-to-eye on the matter, and they end up taking their child support grievances before a court of law. That outcome does nothing to improve the co-parenting relationship, and it often fails to net the custodial parent any form of meaningful support.

A better approach is to try and work through child support issues outside of court, in a collaborative manner. For example, when the parent who is tasked with paying child support encounters a serious financial strain, both parents should sit down and work out a solution. That solution might come in the form of a temporary reduction in payments while the parent works to regain financial stability. Another solution could be that the non-custodial parent agrees to take on additional child care duties after school, which removes the expense of tutoring or child care services.

In preparing to discuss child support matters, both parents should go in with the understanding that it is virtually impossible to structure an outcome where both sides feel as though they have "won" the issue. Child support, just like child custody, requires a degree of cooperation. Both sides have to be willing to give a little in order to reach a mutually agreeable solution.

Unfortunately, the family court system is ill-equipped to provide customized or creative solutions to child support issues. Going to court will result in a very predictable outcome, depending on the circumstances of both parties. If the end result is punitive measures against a parent who cannot make his or her obligations through no fault of their own, the outcome could cause lasting damage to the co-parenting relationship, which does nothing to support either Colorado parent or the children caught in the middle.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Eliminating Child Support Debt by Improving Relationships", Mark Echols, March 4, 2016

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