Noncustodial fathers protest unrealistic, unfair payments

Posted on September 5, 2014. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, fathers, Shared Parenting | Tags: , , , |

August 15th, 2014  Andrew Ozaki

LINCOLN, Neb. —His service to his country took away his leg, and now former Army Sgt. Ben Marksmeier said the state’s child custody and support laws are taking away his son.

“The only thing I was thinking about was my son, my unborn child, and then I come back only to have him ripped out of my life,” said Marksmeier.

Marksmeier and other noncustodial fathers told their emotional stories to a special commission looking into revising the state’s child support guidelines.

“I currently only see my child for four hours a month. Four hours,” said Marksmeier.

Legal Aid, an Omaha nonprofit organization, said payments for some parents are unrealistically high and don’t change or are slow to change if the person loses their job or their financial status changes. It places them in a rut they can’t climb out of.

“They are incredibly broken and ashamed. And when they are broken and ashamed, it interferes with their relationships with their children,” said Muirne Heaney, an attorney for Legal Aid.

Noncustodial parents in Nebraska rank in the top 10 in paying child support but still owe $70 million in back payments. Child welfare advocates say their only concern is to make sure the basic needs of every child is met. Even those who can afford the payments said it’s about equal parenting time, though.

“If there were a way to trade money for time, believe me, I would be the first in that line,” said Eddy Santamaria, a noncustodial father.

The chair of the commission, Brad Ashford, agrees changes need to be made to allow more equal time for both parents.

“Let’s make sure the child support piece is right as well, so that when we think about equal parenting — the child support guidelines reflect the reality of daily life,” said Ashford.

That’s what Marksmeier and others are asking for.

“Fix this, so dads can be dads,” said Santamaria.

Read more: http://www.ketv.com/news/noncustodial-fathers-protest-unrealistic-unfair-payments/27516322#ixzz3CRWigK90

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