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Filmmaker examines child support system and race

Some Kentucky fathers may be struggling to pay child support because their income is too low for the amount they have been ordered to pay. According to a study by the Urban Institute, the income range for 70 percent of parents who are behind in child support is under $10,000. Some of those parents have no income in at all.

In a documentary called "Where's Daddy?", filmmaker Rel Dowdell takes a look at the child support system and how it disproportionately punishes African-American fathers from the time they enter the court hearing with insufficient legal counsel. This means that in addition to not having the representation they need, these fathers may also be unaware that if their income drops, they can ask for a modification based on a change in circumstances.

The actions taken against fathers as a result of not paying child support may also compound their problems. For example, if a father loses his driver's license, he might also lose his job if he cannot get to work. This could prevent him from seeing his children as well. Fathers who are jailed for not paying child support also run the risk of falling into more debt. Fathers suffer from guilt, but the worst effects of this pattern is on the children.

Parents should make an effort during a divorce to work together for solutions that are in a child's best interests. Family law courts take the position that a parent is responsible for supporting biological children, but they also attempt to encourage the child to build a relationship with both parents. This means that if a parent has fallen behind on support, the custodial parent still does not have the legal right to block that parent's access to the child if they have an agreement in place that allows visitation.

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