Criminal Lawyer

Rarely does any parent actually plan on going to jail. However, if you end up in a situation where you must spend time behind bars, you will need to know whether you have to find a way to meet your child support obligations. It may be confusing and not really make sense to hear that incarcerated parents are still responsible for paying outstanding child support payments during this time. If you are concerned about your ability to fulfill payments, it is advised that you get help from a family law lawyer in Rockville, MD

The Right To Child Support Modification

Statistically, around 1 in every 4 inmates at federal and state prisons have an open child support case. Millions of children are getting the funds they need through payments that the other parent is making from jail. The court may or may not grant leniency to the paying spouse, depending on the elements of their arrest, how long they will be behind bars, and other influential factors.

Every parent has the right to request a modification in child support if a significant life event has occurred and circumstances have changed. Being incarcerated is a big deal, and may impact a parent’s ability to keep up with child support payments as ordered by the court. If this is the case for you, then you can ask the court to temporarily suspend the child support order until a realistic revision can be established based on your current situation. 

Options For Parents Paying Child Support From Jail

As the incarcerated parent, you may be worried about the interest that will have accumulated on overdue child support payments. You will have to eventually pay this interest on top of back payments, so it’s in your best interest to review your options so you aren’t in financial turmoil when released. An incarcerated parent can ask the court to either:

  • Suspend the child support order until they have been released 
  • Reduce how much they owe in child support payments so it is affordable while they are living out their sentence

The judge handling the child support modification request due to incarceration, may decide to grant one of the two options above. Or, the judge may determine that the paying parent should still be able to afford the payments while behind bars, and he or she will have to continue abiding by the previous court order. The incarcerated parent may pay child support even if they aren’t making money while in jail, by using assets or income from a savings account. Other ways that child support payments can be paid include:

  • Using income from rental properties
  • Gathering funds from retirement or disability benefits
  • Obtaining money from selling investments, such as stocks or bonds

Seeking Support While Serving a Jail Sentence

While the parent is serving their time behind bars, they can seek support from child support agencies. Such agencies can help ensure that the paying parent continues to maintain a relationship with their child, gets assistance in obtaining a job after they are released, have paternity tests performed, and receive education about their parental responsibilities during this period. 



Thanks to Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and child support when the paying parent goes to jail.