Prison sentences could stop child support payments

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Friday, October 23, 2015.

Child support is almost always a highly debated topic among parents, whether they divorced or never married. The custodial parent often feels that he or she is struggling to raise a child without the financial assistance he or she deserves while non-custodial parents struggle to justify allocating some of their hard-earned money toward a child they never see and a parent they hardly know. This issue is especially pressing for prisoners, who are incapable of making a significant enough income to make most child support payments.

A prime example of this comes in the story of a Missouri man who was sent to prison for drug crimes at the age of 19. Two months after beginning his time in prison, he began to receive monthly letters informing him of his child support dues. It started out small, less than $200 a month, but as the dues continued to be unpaid, and penalties started to pile up, he quickly found himself owning hundreds of dollars in only a few short months.

The simple fact is that prisoners are often not capable of making these payments, even if they earn an income of some kind. The Missouri man in question found employment cleaning the kitchens in prison, but for this he was paid a paltry $7.50 per month. Obviously with monthly child support payments in excess of $150, there was no way for him to keep up.

Because of this growing problem, the Obama administration is attempting to take action in order to reduce the child support debts that prisoners are accruing. Under new regulations that the president’s administration has authorized, such incarceration would be classified as involuntary, meaning that child support payments will go on hold throughout the sentence.

Of course, these child support payments will still have to be made, which is why many oppose the regulations. The opposition claims that this pause would put the burden of the child support payments on taxpayers. It is a controversial subject, to be sure, but the ramifications could affect family law all across the country, not just in Missouri. This serves as another example of how complex family law can be, which is why you should not hesitate to speak with an attorney if you have any questions or concerns about family law.

Source: The Washington Post, “For men in prison, child support becomes a crushing debt,” Eli Hager, Oct. 18, 2015

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