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Child Support Arrears for Incarcerated Obligors

Posted by Keya Reed | Feb 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

Many incarcerated parents are the primary source of financial support for their children before being incarcerated. However, facing incarceration or being incarcerated typically limits the paying parents' earning capacity that seriously prevents them from fulfilling their financial obligation to their children.

Unfortunately, the incarcerated parents' child support debt dramatically increases throughout their incarceration if there are no changes in their child support orders. Thus, making it more difficult for them to provide for their children after being released from their sentences. 

The good thing is you may be able to request the Court to modify your current child support obligations through the help of an experienced attorney.

It is essential to keep in mind that this modification is subject to exceptions and can only be established by taking the appropriate action at the earliest time possible.

Do I Have To Continue Paying Child Support If I Am Incarcerated?

Generally, yes. But there are exceptions to this rule.

The State of Missouri recognizes that a parent who is currently incarcerated or faces incarceration would not have the financial means to pay child support. Thus, they acknowledge incarceration as a legitimate “change in circumstances” or a guideline deviation factor.

Therefore, this may lower or suspend your child support obligations while incarcerated.

However, this rule does not apply automatically. The incarcerated parent must request from the Court for the modification of their child support orders.

Moreover, there are certain exceptions to the modification of child support orders.

What Are The Exceptions To Modifying Child Support Obligations For Incarcerated Paying Parents?

In Missouri, the modification cannot be applied if the child support order has been established for less than three (3) years unless the paying parent is:

  • Incarcerated for more than 180 days
  • Facing incarceration for more than 180 days[1]

How Can I Request A Modification For My Child Support Orders?

A formal request to change the child support order must be presented to the Court by the paying parent at the earliest possible time.

With your lawyer's assistance, they can alert the Court of the changes in your financial situation. Your lawyer can file the appropriate motions, present evidence of the decrease in earnings, and formally ask the Court on your behalf that your payments be lowered appropriately due to the change of your earning capacity.

If successful, the Court can briefly or completely lower the number of future payments of your child support order based on the length of your incarceration and earning capacity due to the result of your imprisonment.

Do I Still Have To Pay Back Child Support Owed Before The Modification?

Generally, yes. You still must pay back any child support due before the modification.

The modification of child support orders only applies to start on the date that the court approved the order. The changes do not apply to any child support payments due before that date.

If you are currently facing incarceration or are incarcerated and are obligated to pay child support in the State of Missouri, contact the Law Offices of Keya M. Reed LLC. We can represent and advise you on the best course of action to safeguard your rights and interest regarding child support arrears. Contact us to schedule a consultation. 

[1] https://dss.mo.gov/child-support/pdf/changing-child-support-order.pdf

About the Author

Keya Reed

Keya Reed, Esq. The Law Office of Keya M. Reed LLC, Founder B.A., Coppin State University; J.D., UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Keya Reed provides legal representation to families and others in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

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