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Incarcerated fathers may halt child support

New regulations that are being introduced by the Obama administration may be of interest to California parents who have gone through a divorce. Under the law, fathers who are incarcerated may halt the accrual of their child support payments while they are serving their prison sentences.

Proponents of the law say that allowing child support to continue accruing while a father is incarcerated does little other than to saddle them with significant debt when they are released. They argue that women do not benefit from payments that are made from that debt as they primarily go to the government for late fees.

Opponents of the new policy expressed concerns that women will be unable to seek and receive welfare payments if the child support payments are halted. The new regulations will go into affect in 2017. Many fathers who leave prison with large child support debt balances are soon sent back for their failure to pay the back support they owe.

The calculation of child support payment amounts involves using guidelines that take into account the relative incomes of the parents as well as who is providing the primary support and care for the child. Until the new regulations are effective, parents who are incarcerated may want to file a motion with the court seeking to modify their child support amount. Child support may be reduced when a parent has a significant change in their finances. Since federal prisoners only make between .23 cents and $1.15 per hour, it is possible that a temporary modification would be granted. For parents who are not incarcerated and who are raising their child on their own, an attorney may help recover a small portion of the child support owed from the other parent's prison wages.

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