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Family law: Man ordered to stop having children

Colorado readers will likely have heard of a recent controversial child support ruling that is making headlines across the nation. The ruling is connected to a child support hearing in which a man was accused of owing more than $100,000 for child support to four children fathered with four different women. The ruling has many in the area of family law questioning whether the judge has gone too far in exerting his power.

While virtually no one would argue the common sense wisdom of not having more children when you are not able to support the four you already have, that is not the legal question at the heart of this matter. The real issue, at least among those who practice family law is how broadly a judge can act to bring a defendant who is in arrears over child support into compliance. While there are a number of strict measures in place to compel compliance with child support orders, limiting one's ability to procreate may be a stretch.

The man's attorney is pledging to appeal the ruling, and the issue has been before this state's Supreme Court in the past. In that case, the higher court ruled that an order prohibiting a father of seven from having more children for five years was too broad in scope. The judge in the recent case asserts that his ruling is not overly broad, and gives the man the ability to father more kids if he can prove that he is able to support the ones he already has.

This case brings up a number of interesting legal questions. Many family law courts across the country struggle with enforcing compliance with child support payments. Should the lower court's ruling stand, the outcome could give judges in Colorado and other states more leeway toward making similar rulings on the issue.

Source:, "A fundamental right to procreate?" Sharon Broussard, Feb. 1, 2013

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