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State passes new law concerning child support and jailed parents

In many states throughout the country -- including here in California, parents often struggle to meet their financial obligations for their children. If a non-custodial parent is incarcerated, they may find it impossible to ever catch up on their child support obligations. One state recently revised its laws concerning these parents, and the decision may have been questioned by many custodial parents.

The state decided to revise the law regarding parents' obligations, if they are sentenced to a jail term that exceeds six months. Lawmakers explained their decision by stating that parents who are incarcerated for long periods of time are unable to make their payments, and having large amounts of arrears accumulating while they serve their time only results in them becoming further behind with little hope of them ever bringing their payment current. Legislators hope that eliminating the increased burdens of back support may allow these parents to obtain gainful employment that will eventually grant them the ability to bring their accounts to good standing.

North Dakota lawmakers also claimed that terminating these obligations for the period of the jail sentence will not impose a greater burden on the social benefits that the state applies to custodial parents who are not receiving these payments. The state's Department of Human Services in charge of support collection was in favor of the revision. There are some exceptions to the law for parents who are receiving outside income that exceeds a certain threshold or for parents who are participating in work-release programs or who are on probation.

Once a parent is released, their child support obligations are re-instated. It is likely that there are many custodial parents who are not in favor of the law, as they may believe it will make providing for their child more difficult without the monetary support from the other parent. California parents who are struggling with this important issue may seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney in an effort to petition for an enforcement of or a modification to any existing child support orders.

Source:, "Incarcerated parents to see termination of child support obligations", Dec. 11, 2017

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