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Obama calls for child support reform in Father's Day speech

On Father's Day, President Obama gave a speech suggesting that government and community organizations could do more to foster a strong bond between fathers and their children. Arizona parents, single fathers in particular, may be interested in the context in which the President raised the subject of child support.

The President acknowledged that, while modern technology allows for communication among people all over the world, there is no way to replace the role of a loving, supportive parent who is present in the life of the child. He drew connections to his own childhood, being raised by his mother and grandparents after his parents divorced and his father left, and highlighted single parents today who do a "heroic job raising terrific kids."

The President has frequently highlighted the value of strong families and fatherhood. He emphasized these ideas during a speech on gun violence, for example. In his Father's Day speech, he also called for efforts to "get more men working and engaged with their children," and suggested that one step towards this goal would be reform of the laws governing child support.

Child support is used to provide children with their everyday necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter, but the parent getting the child support may use the money to support the child in a wide variety of ways. Child support can be used for medical care, education expenses and childcare. Child support payments can also be used to provide transportation for the child. This includes making car payments and paying insurance.

Child support also may be used for extracurricular activities of the children such as sports or camps. Most courts also hold that child support money can be used for entertainment such as trips to amusement parks, camping trips and other activities. Child support may even be used to pay college expenses for an older child. States reason that a child's education should not suffer because the parents are divorced. Non-custodial parents are often required to contribute to the child's college expenses even for a child over the age of eighteen if they are attending school full-time.

Child support decisions are based on what is called the best interest of the child. The courts' view is that the natural bonds of affection will lead parents to act in their children's best interest. Any Arizona parents struggling with a child support dispute may wish to consult with a legal professional in order to help protect their rights and the best interests of the children.

Source: CNN, "Obama reflects on absent father in weekly address," June 15, 2013

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