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Public views about the fairness of child support

California parents may be interested in a new study indicating that many people believe the way courts calculate child support payments is unfair. Researchers from Arizona State University interviewed thousands of people in Arizona and England and asked their opinions about different child support scenarios. The results of the study were recently released.

Respondents felt that the income of both parents should be considered when a court issues a child support order, but these determinations are in some states based only on what the noncustodial parent earns. The guidelines in other states look at the financial situations of both parents.

Another issue troubling to the survey respondents was the way that the law treats child support in cases where the custodial parent has remarried. Most of those answering the researcher's questions believed that child support decisions should be revisited in these situations, but in most cases, stepparents are not legally required to support their stepchildren. It is hoped that the research will be of assistance to legislators considering proposed changes to child support laws.

Disputes over child suppoort often become contentious, and parents sometimes feel that the law is unfair or the system is against them. It has been observed that in many cases, the noncustodial parent thinks that the amount that has been ordered is too high, while the parent receiving the support believes that it is not enough. Even when the parents are in accord with the situation, however, the paying parent may encounter a situation where it becomes impossible to meet the obligation due to an unforeseen financial downturn. In such an event, it may be advisable to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney in petitioning the court for a modification.

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