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Can Europe teach the United States something about child support?

As regards payment of child support, relevant laws across the United States stand out as being comparatively rigid and severe when examined alongside the legislation that governs this important area of family law in many other countries.

We should be paying closer attention to that, argues the writer of an article focusing upon child support policies and alternative models. In fact, notes the author of a child support-related column in the media outlet ThinkProgress, American officials might profitably look to Europe for salutary ideas on how to best ensure support payments and administer support programs equitably and with optimal efficiency.

Here's why. Reportedly, American dads with support duties stand out for being the most onerously taxed of virtually all noncustodial fathers virtually anywhere in the world; that is, notes the above-cited article, "American fathers have the highest obligations among 14 of the richest countries." Few countries incarcerate fathers who are behind on support payments. Fathers in many American states suffer that fate.

And, often, their support amounts owed simply increase while they lag in jail. Their kids are not benefited, and neither are they.

It is interesting to note that, excepting one nation (the Netherlands), every country in Europe guarantees child support payments to custodial parents, even in instances when the parent tasked to pay support is paying little or nothing of what is owed.

Might that be something worthy of studied reflection in the United States?

Of course, critics will argue that taxpayer-funded support to guarantee adequate care for every child in the country is excessive and untenable.

Some commentators note, though, that the overall cost to the federal government to help provide for American children and to ensure their potential to prosper in the future would not be that great, with the reciprocal benefits being truly outsized.

In the end, they say, the costs to taxpayers would be far less than the ultimate advantages that would accrue.

European nations differ from the United States in many respects. Sometimes that can be instructive.

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