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'Problem Solving Court' uses new system for child support

Calling a court a "problem solving court," as a court focusing on child support in Jefferson County does, might seem overly simplistic. But it does represent what the court attempts to accomplish on a daily basis.

In Colorado so far this year, $248 million has been collected in child support payments. In the courtroom in Jefferson County, about $1 million is collected annually. That's got other jurisdictions taking notice.

The Problem Solving Court takes a different tack when it comes to collecting child support payments and interacting with parents who may be behind on payments. They say they aim to create a therapeutic environment rather than a hostile or bitter one.

According to 9 News, attorneys and workers in the court realized that sending parents to jail for 180 days for getting too far behind on payments didn't do much good. Instead, they are looking at the failure to pay as a symptom of a larger problem.

Instead, they focus on supporting parents and helping them reconnect with their children. One worker recalls a father and son who were estranged for 17 years and started talking on a regular basis after re-connecting with the help of the court. Now money is no longer an issue.

One attorney says people might assume the environment is tense, but they see to it that it is not. The strategy seems to be working. The court apparently collects $8 for every $1 it spends, according to 9 News. The track record may lead other courts to follow suit.

Source: 9 News, "Child support court solves problems, reconnects families," Cheryl Preheim, Oct. 12, 2011

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