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Former major leaguer owes $276,000 in child support

Danny Tartabull reportedly earned more than $33 million during the 14 years he played major league baseball, primarily with the Mariners, the Royals and the Yankees. The high earnings make it difficult to understand why Tartabull, now 50 years old and retired from baseball, is delinquent on his child support obligations to the tune of $276,000.

Tartabull owes support for his two sons. He pleaded no contest to failure to pay child support in 2011 in Los Angeles. He was later ordered to serve 180 days in jail after he violated the terms of his probation. When he failed to appear to serve his sentence, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He is still on the run from the California authorities.

Stories like this are puzzling in a way, because these consequences are so unnecessary. Courts in most states take a parent's ability to pay into account in setting child support and will modify it if circumstances change.

Colorado courts use presumptive guidelines when setting child support payments. The guidelines are based on the gross income of each parent, and take into account the parenting time each parent has with the children, as well as which parent is paying certain obligations including health insurance and day care expenses. Theoretically at least, no one is ordered to pay child support at a level they cannot afford.

Of course, things change in life, and sometimes a payment that was affordable when ordered is no longer feasible due to job loss or a reduction in income. In Colorado, as in most states, a parent who is unable to make their child support payment due to a substantial and continuing change in economic circumstances can petition the court for a modification of the payment. A parent who seeks a modification would be well advised to seek it before they fall behind in payments, or they will end up facing the kind of consequences now faced by Danny Tartabull.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, "Ex-Major League Baseball Player Tops Child Support 'Most Wanted' List," Dan Stamm, July 12, 2013