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Mediation is an option for enforcing child support

Parents in Rhode Island seeking to establish or modify child support can learn from a recent settlement between a popular U.S. Congressman and his ex-wife. The Congressman and his wife had been married for 15 years when she filed for divorce in 2002. In 2004 the ex-wife made a claim that her ex-husband owed her $117,000 in back child support from years of paying nothing.

The congressman asserts that he thought they had an informal agreement under which he did not have to pay because since the divorce, his wife's income increased and his plummeted. He also allegedly told his ex-wife that he "had no money" to give her.

The congressman's ex-wife, however, claims that despite his claimed poverty, the Congressman took a vacation to Mexico with his girlfriend and another to Italy, that he had enough money to lend his campaign $35,000 and that he lived a quite comfortable lifestyle. At the same time, she claims, his children were denied advantages that his payment of child support would have allowed.

Neither side would disclose the terms of the support agreement, but since he took office a year and a half ago, $2,164 has been deducted from his monthly check to cover his current child support obligations.

The story of the court battle had proved to be an embarrassment. Most parents will not have to deal with the public humiliation of seeking child support modification as a public figure. Nevertheless, seeking to establish or modify a child support order in order to cover everyday expenses can be a stressful process. Mediation is an option for parents in a similar situation. The process has many benefits beyond keeping things private when crafting a support agreement. The mediator is a trained third party who stays neutral during negotiations, but facilitates a mutually acceptable agreement. The process is used to settle many issues in family law, including child support.

Mediation is often cheaper and faster than going to court and may have the added benefit of being less stressful for children when the parents are cooperating. Therefore, if you are battling the process of divorce, you may want to think about this option.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Rep. Joe Walsh says child-support dispute with ex-wife is resolved" Abdon M. Pallasch, April 19, 2012

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