While it is possible to go to jail for not paying your child support, incarcerated parents can often feel like it is a vicious cycle since they can't work. During their time in jail — whether it be for failure to pay child support or another offense — the child support arrears continue to accrue, meaning some parents could leave prison only to be thousands of dollars behind.
However, President Obama announced last month that noncustodial parents who are in prison will be afforded a way to keep the child support from continuing to accrue. Basically, parents would be able to take a break from paying child support payments if the prison time was considered "involuntary." As would be expected, the announcement was met with different responses, ranging from those who believe it gives parents a way to circumvent their responsibilities to those who saw it as an important step in the right direction to break the poverty cycle.
The new law is not set to go into effect until 2017, but it could have significant consequences for parents on both sides of the child support issues when it does. According to reports, one in five fathers who are currently in prison are supposed to be paying child support. However, because the wage for prison workers is extremely low, it is impossible to keep paying the support amounts, even if the courts lower them somewhat due to extenuating circumstances.
With some states already attempting to block the new law, it remains to be seen how this process will look in action, or if it will ever be implemented nationally at all. However, if it does, it could create more legal options for parents who find themselves falling behind on child support payments due to incarceration.
Source: NewsOne, "Incarcerated Fathers Will Be Able To “Pause” Child Support Payments During Prison Sentences," Desire Thompson, accessed Nov. 20, 2015