Obama's child support rule for incarcerated parents in effect

Minnesota residents who are facing child support debt after being incarcerated may be interested to learn that one of Barack Obama's regulations that were instated in his final month took effect on Jan. 19. This regulation, which called on states to create realistic child support amounts for those who are behind bars, was not delayed for review under the Trump administration.

The regulation came about as states were imposing increasingly larger child support obligations on parents who were incarcerated and did not have the income. This contributed to the cycle of parents continuously being incarcerated for lack of child support payments. This also prevented incarcerated parents from being unable to escape poverty so that they could better provide for their children.

Even though the Supreme Court ruled that it was a violation of due process rights for states to not inquire of a parent's ability to pay child support when they are incarcerated, there were many states that still would not allow parents to seek reduced child support payments while they were behind bars. The regulation now prevents states from considering incarceration to be voluntary unemployment. However, the regulation could potentially be revoked at a later date when a health and human services secretary is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

If a parent cannot pay the amount of child support that they owe due to their low income, it could cause them to become incarcerated and prevent them from being able to be a part of their child's life, even if staying involved is in the best interests of the child. A family law attorney may assist with filing a modification of the child support order. The attorney may use the child support guidelines and financial records to show that the parent is currently unable to pay what they owe.

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