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Film examines child support and African-American fathers

Some Colorado fathers who have fallen behind in child support payments may be dealing with a combination of factors that includes little or no income and a lack of knowledge about how to navigate the child support system. In a documentary film about child support and African-American fathers, Rel Dowdell examines how they are disproportionately affected by problems in the system.

According to a study by the Urban Institute, 70 percent of child support debt is owed by parents who have no income or whose income is lower than $10,000 per year. While there is a stereotype of African-American fathers as being absent or neglectful, Dowdell says that in fact there are a number of barriers to their involvement with their children.

Lacking the money for legal counsel, many do not realize they can ask for a child support modification. If a father loses his driver's license, it may be more difficult for him to see his child and to hold down a job. This leads to the father falling even further behind with payments. Fathers struggle with guilt, and children are harmed by the situation.

Parents may want to talk to an attorney regarding their concerns about child custody and child support. A parent who is unable to keep up with child support payments because of a change in circumstances, such as job loss or medical emergency, should request a modification. It is better to do this sooner rather than later because payments and penalties will continue to accrue until the modification is approved.

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