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Melissa A. Featherston

Missouri alternative Child Support Court granted more funds

Lincoln County, just northwest of St. Louis, has been awarded $25,000 in additional funding for its Child Support Court program.

Child Support Court is an alternative program designed to capture owed support payments while concurrently reducing the amount of state money spent to prosecute and incarcerate the parents who owe. This alternative measure to a traditional, often expensive, child support battle is one way some in Missouri are working to promote the better care of children and parents receiving child support, while still being strict against those who owe.

According to the organizer of the Child Support Court, the ability to capture the owed payments not only provides better support for the children involved, but also helps reduce taxpayer dollars spent on welfare, Medicaid, and food stamp programs, which are often utilized by parents who are not receiving the needed support payments.

In addition, taking advantage of services that address the core reasons why parents fail to make support payments and finding resolution outside of the criminal system may help promote a healthier relationship between the parties involved. It is suggested that the criminal system, especially incarceration, can often widen the gap between parents who need child support, and the ability of the other parent to pay. The founder of the program says the goal is to promote emotionally and financially responsible parents who can work together to provide for their children.

Missouri parents who are required to make child support payments may be aware of how tough the court system can be if they fail to meet their obligations. Similarly, parents who receive support payments may be well aware of the challenges that a failure to pay can create. Finding a good balance may be challenging, but it is not impossible. Missouri law has certain protections in place for both parties to reach an amicable agreement that will suit the needs of everyone involved.

Source: Lincoln County Journal, "Funding renewed for child support court," May 23, 2012

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