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Laura Dale & Associates, P.C.

Single mothers need help from the children's father

A Houston single mother has tried any number of things to support her three children. She went back to school and earned her nursing degree, and she works two to three temporary jobs every month. Unfortunately, she has not been able to capitalize on her degree as she still only manages to bring in approximately $900 every month.

In our tough economic times, 41 percent of the children of single mothers live in poverty. After paying for rent, utilities and groceries, there is generally little money left to live on. And many such single mothers receive no child support payments whatsoever.

There are debates as to whether safety net programs financed by local, state or federal governments have been effective in helping such women out. It's suggested that such programs sustain child poverty by attempting to make such programs a substitute for a supporting father. Such an issue is for legislators to decide upon.

However, it does seem that the absent father is often the problem in many family situations where poverty plays a role. One parent should not be saddled with the entire burden of taking care of the children financially and emotionally. This is not fair to either the custodial parent or to the children.

Family law attorneys can at least help such single mothers by going to court and making fathers live up to their financial obligations. Attorneys can prepare divorce decrees, move courts for orders of contempt when fathers do not pay spousal maintenance or child support, and create visitation schedules and arrangements so that both parents can be involved in the child's life.

The key to every family law and divorce situation involving children is doing what is in the best interest of the child. Children obviously are better off if both parents are present and supportive in their roles.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, "Figures show struggle worsening for single mothers," by Renee C. Lee, September 5, 2012

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