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Some states trying to help poor dads with unpaid child support

Several states, including Ohio, are looking into new ways to help fathers who are behind on child support payments get back on track. The methods are intended to help men who want to meet their payment obligations but simply lack the money.

For example, Maryland has started a new program that will forgive 10 percent of a parent's child support debt if they agree to enroll in the Center for Urban Families' month-long employment training course and then land a job. If men complete a Responsible Fatherhood program, which includes education on filing for child support modification, another 15 percent of their debt will be written off. The state also has another "debt compromise" program that will forgive 50 percent of a parent's child support debt if they make payments for a full year. Maryland can forgive the debt because most back child support payments go to the state for reimbursement of welfare paid to the child's mother.

Meanwhile, Ohio has experimented with sending simple phone, mail and text reminders to parents who fall behind on payments, and Texas has started contacting newly incarcerated parents to let them know they can apply to have their payments reduced while in jail. The Obama administration has also proposed new regulations that would "right size" child support agreements from the start, making sure they are based on what parents actually earn.

Any Ohio parent who is having difficulty keeping up with child support payments may wish to consult an attorney about child support modification. Likewise, an attorney could also help a parent who is not receiving court-ordered child support payments collect the money that is owed.

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