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Incarcerated parents struggle to pay child support

Believe it or not, quite a few parents who are ordered to pay child support in Maryland are or have been incarcerated. These individuals are not freed from their child support obligations due to imprisonment and lack of income. Instead they generally owe the state significant sums of money upon release.

While the non-custodial parent is incarcerated, the custodial parent is generally able to apply for public assistance in order to make up for the lack of child support payments. This is money that a non-custodial parent has to pay back to the state after being released from prison. With a criminal record, finding a job that pays well enough to cover his or her own expenses, child support and what is owed to the state is nearly impossible.

Maryland is in the process of reviewing the criminal justice system and looking into the issues these parents face upon their release. As it currently stands, a law was passed in 2012 that is intended to help reduce or suspend the financial obligations of inmates. This, unfortunately, does not apply to child support payments. However, after release and employment is gained, these parents may request to have support orders modified so that the amount owed is in line with their current financial states.

Applying for and achieving a child support modification is not necessarily easy. There may be stumbling blocks that come up along the way. However, at the end of the day, child support payments need to be in the realm of affordability for those who are ordered to pay them. With legal assistance, parents in Maryland can fight for support orders that supply children with what they need, but are also reasonable for their current economic situations.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "A life sentence of debt", Dec. 31, 2015

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