Families in Utah often have an arrangement where one parent is required to pay child support to the other parent. This is typically the case when one parent has significantly higher income than the other or if one parent is the primary caregiver. However, there are times when the parent making payments struggles to do so, perhaps due to an illness or job loss. One state is working to break the cycle by assisting certain parents with finding a job, in order to help them provide for their children rather than send them to prison for unpaid child support.
The program was started recently by a judge who serves in domestic court cases. It seeks to offer education and career training for those who might otherwise be arrested for their debt. For now, it will be temporary and only an option for certain parents until data is available on the program’s effectiveness. The judge who implemented it said she realized that some parents who struggle to make their payments do so due to circumstances that are often beyond their control. She felt that jailing the parents overloaded the court system, left kids with inadequate care and failed to solve the problem overall.
Specific companies that have partnered with the program will offer jobs and education to the parents in need. One woman recounted her own story, saying she had applied for numerous positions at various companies but failed to get an interview. She is hopeful that this program will help her provide for her daughter who currently lives with her ex-husband.
This program is not available in all areas, but it serves as a reminder that, if a Utah parent is having difficulty making child support payments, he or she may be able to request a modification to his or her support agreement. The family court will review the specific case and make a recommendation based on the personal circumstances of everyone involved. Doing so could allow a parent to better care for the child they love so much.