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Help for Pennsylvania parents who have child support debt

Any kind of debt can be debilitating. However, child support debt can affect every aspect of a Pennsylvania parent's life and adversely affect the child for whom the support is intended. Unfortunately, once a parent falls on hard times financially, that child support payment may not be possible, and child support debt can add up. Several states have realized the way in which this debt affects parents and children and have initiated programs to help parents deal with the debt productively.

Some programs in place are now helping parents reduce the amount of debt instead of seeing it rise each month. One state will wipe out a percentage of back-due child support if a parent enrolls in parenting programs. More debt can be wiped out if a parent is employed and pays support consistently for a year.

Another form of outreach to avoid endless child support debt involves efforts to educate parents who are behind. One form of education is parenting classes, which explain why what parents pay for upfront does not reduce the debt or count as support. Another part of the program is to remind parents about payments. Advice about what to do if employment and ability to pay is compromised has also been helpful for some.

Once a parent starts to fall behind or life circumstances, such as job loss or incarceration, lead to difficulties or an inability to pay, parents may not know where to reach out for help. Parents may also be completely unaware of resources in Pennsylvania and neighboring states that could help their particular situation. With adequate resources and education, parents can ensure timely and fair child support payments, and the best interests of the child or children can be met.

Source: npr.org, "Some States Are Cutting Poor Dads A Deal On Unpaid Child Support", Jennifer Ludden, Nov. 20, 2015

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