Over the last several years, same-sex marriage and civil unions have been among the most discussed family law topics across the nation. Although Colorado doesn't allow same-sex marriages, as of May 1 the state will recognize civil unions. This arrangement functions similarly to a marriage in that it provides legal protections to parents and children.
Everyone knows that the economic recession has created hardship for families across the country. At the same time, a growing trend that pre-dates the recession has caught the attention of many in Colorado: Child poverty in our state is growing at one of the fastest rates in the country.
Every day, people commit crimes and are arrested and jailed when caught. While in jail, financial obligations such as child support payments are not waived in many states; the incarcerated person is still responsible for making those payments. If someone is unjustly jailed, knowing that their financial responsibilities are not being met adds to the stress of proving his or her innocence.
Courts often become involved in a child support dispute when a determination must be made in the best interests of the child. Child support guidelines vary from state to state but are commonly set to ensure that a child has the financial support needed to ensure a healthy and happy future. Those seeking to make changes to existing child support arrangements or create new ones should seek to understand how family law affects their cases. Others may be facing seemingly erroneous claims for child support payments and need to know how such laws affect them.
Child support payments are provided to ensure that a child does not suffer undue economic hardship because of the separation of his or her parents. In Colorado, when the child support amount ordered is not paid, the child not only faces that hardship, but the parent who fails to provide for the child can face stiff fines or even jail time. These penalties are a distinct possibility for a man arrested recently for failure to pay child support amounting to more than $1 million.
When a noncustodial parent is unwilling or unable to pay child support, the children are the ones who suffer. The costs of raising a child in Colorado can quickly add up, leaving the custodial parent with ongoing financial needs. The recent outcome of the child support dispute between Dennis Rodman and his ex-wife offers hope for parents fighting for the money they need for their children's everyday expenses.
Whatever their family background, children have a right to be supported by both parents. The court system and child support guidelines in Colorado and elsewhere typically provide for all children to be supported by their parents, even if one parent does not have custody of the child. Despite their best efforts, however, the courts have yet to find a way to stop men and women from having children that they cannot afford, and child support enforcement is difficult and costly. This is a problem not just in Colorado, but nationwide.
After a divorce, it's not just the partners who are affected but the children. Child support is often mandated by the court to make sure the best interests of the child are preserved, and a man failing to pay child support is not uncommon. But a developing child support case in a nearby state is highly unusual.
During a divorce, both parties are faced with the task of separating their financial lives. When a child is involved, parents typically try to disturb the child's lifestyle as little as possible. This can be difficult financially, because funds that once supported a single household must now go toward two. Colorado family courts are filled with battling parents attempting to minimize their financial responsibilities related to child support. Good results can come from thoughtful negotiation regarding child support, helping ensure the best circumstances for all parties involved, especially the children.
When child custody disputes play out in court, it is ultimately up to the judge to rule on what outcome would best serve the interests of the child. In that respect, the judge has a lot of latitude. Because of the amount of discretion family law judges have in child custody cases, it is important that the judge be ethically beyond reproach.