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Film examines African-American fathers in child support system

According to a documentary by filmmaker Rel Dowdell, "Where's Daddy?", flaws in the child support system disproportionately affect African-American fathers. The Urban Institute reports that 70 percent of child support debt is owed by parents whose income is under $10,000 yearly. Some Kentucky parents may be among those who are struggling within the child support system.

Dowdell identifies several hindrances for fathers within the child support system. Unable to afford legal counsel, they often are unaware about how the system works as result. This includes not knowing that if their income drops or they cannot keep up child support payments for some other reason, it is possible to ask for a modification.

Some fathers who are in arrears lose their driver's license. This makes it hard for them to see their children or get to work. They may be jailed for falling behind on child support, and this can also result in a job loss. Fathers then get into more debt. Although there is a stereotype that African-American fathers neglect their children, it is often these barriers that keep them from maintaining a relationship. They may suffer guilt as a result, and the children are usually hurt more than anyone.

Divorce can be tough for people in many ways, but issues involving children may be among the hardest to navigate. Parents may be concerned about the well-being of their children as well. They may also be struggling with the idea of spending less time with their children. Finally, there may be concerns about child support. An attorney may be able to explain how child support is assessed and what parents can do if they are struggling to pay or collect support. If parents have a formal child support order in place and later agree for one parent to pay less, the order still needs to be legally changed.

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Edgewood, KY 41017

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