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Child support regulations revamped for incarcerated parents

California parents may be interested to learn that, on Dec. 19, the Obama administration issued rules that were designed to assist prisoners with child support while they were incarcerated. It is hoped that the rules will make it easier for inmates to reenter society once they have finished serving their sentence.

A study of 51,000 federal inmates in 2010 showed that approximately 29,000 of them were behind on their child support payments. The average amount that the inmates owed was approximately $24,000. The problem is that many states treat incarceration as “voluntary unemployment”. This prevents incarcerated individuals from being unable to modify their child support orders while they are unable to work and earn an income.

The regulations also will require states to notify both parents about their right to seek changes to their child custody orders if one parent is incarcerated for more than six months. While it hoped that the regulations will result in more reliable child support payments for families, there have been some push back from Republican lawmakers. They argue that the regulations would allow incarcerated parents to avoid their financial duties to their children.

A parent’s financial situation can change at any time. They may get laid off, be required to move for their work or have a medical emergency. If they can suddenly no longer make their child support payments as a result, they may want to have legal assistance when preparing and filing a motion for an order modification. Until it is granted, however, they will need to continue to stay current, as the modification will only apply to future payments.

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