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Do Incarcerated Parents Still Pay Child Support?

Child Support Guidelines for Incarcerated Parents


Prison guard talking to inmates
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Incarcerated parents can still be held responsible by the courts for outstanding child support payments. Here is some more information about enforcing child support orders for incarcerated non-custodial parents:

Child Support and Incarcerated Parents

An incarcerated parent who owes child support might be concerned about interest accruing on all outstanding child support payments during a prison term. In addition, prison systems are in a unique position to be able to locate child support obligors who have thus far been unaccounted for. An incarcerated parent who owes child support should ask the court to do one of the following:

  • Reduce child support orders during incarceration
  • Suspend child support orders during incarceration

The determination of whether a court will agree to a child support modification during a parent's incarceration is at the judge's decision. A court may decide that the child support payments should remain the same during a parent's incarceration.

How Child Support Enforcement Agencies Can Assist Incarcerated Non-Custodial Parents

High child support payments may push child support obligors away from child support enforcement upon release from prison. A child support enforcement agency should work with other government agencies to:

  • Ensure the non-custodial parent maintains a relationship with the child during incarceration
  • Assist in helping parents find jobs after incarceration
  • Provide education to non-custodial parents about their responsibility to their children
  • Offer paternity tests, if applicable

What should an Incarcerated Non-Custodial Parent do after Release from Prison

After a non-custodial parent has been released from prison, the non-custodial parent should do one of the following:

  • Contact the child support enforcement agency that is involved with your case and inform them that your incarceration has ended
  • Inform a child support agency of your intention to seek employment
  • Reestablish contact with your children
  • After you've established employment, begin to make regular child support payments

If a parent is incarcerated and can pay child support, it is in the child's best interest for the parent to continue to make child support payments. However, if a parent can not pay child support due to incarceration, a non-custodial parent should consider one of the alternatives, mentioned above. For more information about incarcerated non-custodial parents and child support obligations, speak with with a qualified attorney that handles child support cases in your state or refer to your state's child support guidelines.

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