When a family breaks apart through a divorce, one party is likely to be ordered to pay child support. The non-custodial parent pays child support, and the amount paid is based on their income and other financial resources. When the paying party is jailed or sentenced to prison, it can affect child support. Read on to find out how to handle things when incarceration interferes with child support orders.
Incarceration is Not an Excuse Not to Pay
The fact that a non-custodial parent is incarcerated may not necessarily affect child support. Child support may be based on financial resources other than income from a salary. For example, those incarcerated may have income from rental properties, savings and investment accounts, royalties, dividends, and more. Even if a parent's financial situation is negatively affected by incarceration, the child support obligation does not end.
Modifying a Child Support Order
In some cases, the court will agree to temporarily reduce or suspend a child support order due to the parent having a change in income. If the paying party can show good reason for the modification, the judge may suspend or reduce the amount owed. It should be mentioned that many family court judges won't modify child support orders without good reason and being incarcerated may not necessarily be a good reason. If the judge refuses to allow a modification, the penalties for failing to pay the support will add up, and the incarcerated party will have to suffer the consequences. Failing to pay child support can result in liens on property, withholding of tax refunds, interest, fines, fees, and more.
How to Handle an Incarcerated Ex-Spouse That Owes Child Support
In most cases, custodial parents need and expect the financial support for their minor-aged child, regardless of the behavior and actions of the ex. When the other parent of your child is or is about to be incarcerated, take the following actions:
1. Review the financial disclosures that were required during the divorce. Doing so can alert you to forms of income or assets that can be used to substitute for a regular salary.
2. Be prepared to fight a modification order by showing that the incarcerated parent has a reduced need to pay rent, utilities, etc.
3. Take action to have support reinstated to the pre-incarceration level once the parent is released from prison.
To find out what your options might be when your ex gets sent to prison, speak to a family law firm such as Marlene Dancer Adams.