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When a parent paying child support goes to jail or prison

Perhaps you're a Tustin parent who receives child support payments from a former partner, and you've just learned that he or she is going to be spending some time behind bars. Or perhaps you are a parent who pays child support, and you've been sentenced to prison. In either case, there are some important points to emphasize regarding child support payments and incarcerated parents.

The first question that will likely arise in this scenario is, does a jail or prison sentence automatically suspend child support obligations? The answer is no. Payments are still due as ordered by the court, and any late or missed payments will incur the usual 10 percent interest. Child support payments typically must continue until the child turns 18, or even longer in some cases.

That being said, a parent who has been incarcerated and is unable to earn any money will likely find it difficult if not impossible to keep up with his or her child support payments. Courts realize this, and will consider requests from incarcerated parents to modify child support orders. However, it's up to one of the parents to request such a modification -- courts cannot change an order without one of the parents filing the necessary forms first.

Among those necessary forms will be FL-310, Application for Order and Supporting Declaration. This is where the parent requesting the modification explains why he or she cannot pay the previously ordered amount (e.g., incarceration). Legal professionals have experience helping parents with these kinds of requests, and can be particularly helpful in challenging cases like incarceration.

Source: The Judicial Branch of California, "The Basics of Child Support for Incarcerated Parents," accessed Jan. 5, 2018

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