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Minnesota non-profit teaches child support responsibilities

When parents get divorced or separate, there are often legal issues surrounding their children. If Minnesota parents are no longer living together or raising their children together, they will have to devise some sort of parenting agreement to decide where the children live, spend their time and who pays for the children's everyday expenses.

Sometimes, parents cannot reach an agreement, and a court must intervene to make child custody or child support determinations. Courts look at a number of factors to decide who pays child support and how much in monthly payments. Child support payments are big responsibility and one that is easier to handle for a parent who is older and more financially secure.

That is the point being pushed by a Minnesota non-profit group based in Stillwater. Dads Make a Difference works to demonstrate to young children and teens the importance of a father's role in building a healthy family dynamic. The group actively teaches participants about the responsibilities that come along with being a father, including monetary and emotional responsibilities. The group was initiated by four women working in Ramsey County. These women noticed that most of the education about parenting was geared toward young girls and not boys. After looking into the issue in more depth, the women quickly realized that boys do not know enough about what it means to be a father, how to establish paternity or be active and involved father.

One of the more important questions that the group asks its participants is when they feel like they will be ready to support a family. The question is asked at the beginning of the program and at the end. Group officials say that they always see the age rise at the end of the training, which means that the teenagers are grasping the concept of parental responsibility.

Not all teenagers or fathers have the opportunity to learn about these family law concepts and may not be prepared for the duties of being a parent. Lack of preparation or financial stability may mean delinquent child support or parents, who simply are not ready to be involved with raising a child. If parents, either mom or dad, are struggling with meeting child support requirements or collecting the monthly payments, an attorney may be able to provide options and alternatives to make sure that the children and family are given the best opportunities possible.

Source: Stillwater Gazette, "Nonprofit teaches teens about fatherhood; Stillwater-based 'Dads Make A Difference' helps boys consider the future," Alicia Lebens, June 15, 2014

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