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Man opts for vasectomy to reduce jail sentence

Family legal issues can be very difficult to understand, especially when traditions and legal precedence clash with modern and changing family dynamics. Increasingly, we are seeing offbeat or inventive solutions offered as new ways of handling older problems; sometimes they are effective and sometimes they fail to adequately address the situation.

A recent case in another state has highlighted one unique and controversial solution to a relatively common issue that many parents face. The story brings up concerns related to what a court should or should not do to protect children and keep parents from being delinquent with their financial obligations to their child.

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The case involves a 27-year-old man who is the father of seven children. All but two of his children have different mothers to whom the man is paying child support. However, his ability to pay child support was seriously compromised when the man was sentenced to prison for convictions on a number of charges, including child endangerment.

Reports indicate that the man recently agreed to a plea deal that would allow him to cut his prison sentence by five years and get back to work to provide support for his kids sooner. In exchange, the man agreed to get a vasectomy in order to prevent him from having any more children.

The terms of this plea have been seriously debated. Supporters say that preventing the man from having any more children will help him focus on and provide for the seven children he already has. Critics argue that the vasectomy requirement is a form of social engineering and unfairly penalizes the man by preventing behavior that is not against the law.

Whether this is an appropriate solution or not will likely continue to be debated. But this is just one example of how some courts experiment with new ways of dealing with old problems. What do you think? Is it fair or ethical to allow or request a man to have a vasectomy in order to get his current child support obligations under control?

Source: The Washington Post, "Vasectomy or jail: A Virginia man's choice," Lindsey Bever, June 24, 2014

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