Child custody and child support can be deeply emotional as well as financial issues for many people in Nebraska and across the country. The complications of dealing with the family court system can be especially difficult for people who already face problems at the intersection of race and poverty. The impact of these factors on African-American fathers and families is explored in a new documentary. In “Where’s Daddy?” the filmmaker examines stereotypical portrayals of back fathers and how they contrast with the real-life experience of people struggling with the system.
Child support can be particularly difficult for people living in poverty. While there are parents who simply seek to avoid their obligations, a large amount of child support debt stems from a simple inability to pay. One study showed that 70 percent of all child support debt across the country is owed by people who make $10,000 annually or less or have no income at all. When people cannot afford to pay their child support, they may give up child custody and visitation time and a close relationship with their children, especially if they are afraid of losing their job or serving jail time as a result of the debt.
The director of the film criticized media portrayals of African-American fathers, especially on daytime talk shows or courtroom programs that frequently feature dads who are behind on their child support payments. In the documentary, he interviews fathers and mothers as well as lawyers, psychologists and children who have come through the system.
Parents’ involvement with their children can be very important for their emotional, mental and physical health. A family law attorney may help parents seek child custody time with their kids as well as address child support issues that may arise, from seeking enforcement to pursuing a modification after a job loss or other changed economic circumstances.