Many parents in North Carolina struggle with issues of child support. Child support payments are an important part of parental responsibility, but it can sometimes be difficult to make payments. Many parents are also unaware of the details regarding child support, including how it is calculated and what their rights and options are in terms of determining or paying child support.

Low-income individuals disproportionately represent those who owe child support debt. A study by the Urban Institute reported that 70 percent of those who owe child support made less than $10,000 per year. An online article also detailed a documentary focused certain flaws in the child support system that tend to punish parents who are trying to do the right thing. Often, child support cases focus on the deadbeat parents who make little attempt to fulfill their obligations, but the documentary wanted to break away from this stereotype. The film focused on dads in the Philadelphia child support system and the challenges and hardships they endured.

The documentary pointed out how the punishments of the child support system mixed with the parents’ lack of understanding often creates downward spirals that push parents deeper into debt rather than helping them recover. It also tends to hurt children and family relationships rather than help foster them. If they are punished for having too much debt, which can include jail time, parents may lose their jobs or vehicles and be less able to provide support in the future.

It is important that anyone dealing with child custody and support understands the options to avoid getting trapped in the downward spiral of debt and punishment. Child support is based primarily on income. It can also be recalculated when income changes, such as after a job change or loss. An attorney may be able to help educate a parent about his or her options and make needed changes.