As a rule, it is very difficult for a noncustodial parent to get out of paying child support. Usually, the only way that a noncustodial parent doesn’t have to pay child support for their child is if he or she is adopted by a stepparent or someone else, or if the noncustodial parent has had their parental rights terminated for some reason.
Life challenges like a sudden job loss, a disability, a disease, or incarceration are not considered valid reasons not to pay child support. In light of that, I’m going to discuss whether incarcerated parents have to pay child support or not because it comes up a lot with my clients who have children under the age of 18.
Incarceration Does Not Stop Child Support
“There are two primary ways by which noncustodial parents with child support orders may intersect with the criminal justice system,” according to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL).
One way is for the noncustodial parent to fail to pay child support, so he or she is sent to jail (usually for a short period of time in a local jail.) The other way is for a noncustodial parent to be convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense and sentenced to jail or prison, but the parent has a current, ongoing child support obligation.
“While child support isn’t the reason for incarceration for these parents, the ongoing child support obligation has repercussions for their confinement, release and re-entry, explains the NCSL.
If a parent is incarcerated, their child support will continue to accrue despite the fact that they aren’t working. Unless the offender seeks a modification from the family court, there will be no way to go back and ask for a reduction after their release. So, the solution is for the noncustodial parent to promptly petition the court to reduce their child support payments, informing the court of the incarceration.
To learn more about child support modifications, click here. And, if you’re a parent who is facing criminal charges, I urge you to contact my firm to schedule a consultation. There are many ways that a conviction can affect your children, so it’s best to be informed.