Do Incarcerated Parents Pay Child Support?

In California, both parents are obligated to financially support their children. However, the family courts cannot make child support orders until a child support case has been opened in the court. Typically, child support is addressed with the following types of court actions: paternitydivorce, legal separation, domestic violence restraining orders, and annulments.

If you are receiving child support and your child’s other parent is convicted of a crime, he or she may be sent to jail or prison. If they are convicted of a misdemeanor, they shouldn’t be behind bars for more than a year. But, if they are convicted of a felony, they could be in state prison for years.Same with federal cases – they can involve lengthy sentences.

When the Paying Parent is Incarcerated

Suppose your ex has been paying child support for the three children you had together, but he’s currently in custody on felony charges. Now you’re wondering, “Can I still collect child support if he’s sentenced to prison?” Here’s what you need to know:

  • If your ex has assets or a source of income while he’s in prison, it may be possible to collect child support.
  • If your ex does not have any assets or sources of income while he’s in prison, it may be impossible to collect child support while he’s behind bars. Of course, everything changes once he’s released and goes back to work.

If you are the paying parent who is facing the possibility of jail or prison, there are a few things you need to know about child support:

  • If you have assets or a source of income, you could still have to pay child support while you’re incarcerated.
  • If you can’t afford to pay child support while you’re behind bars, you should modify the child support order. If you fail to get a downward modification, the past-due child support plus interest will continue to be charged and there is nothing you can do to reverse it. In this situation, when you are released from jail or prison, you will be responsible for the full amount of past-due child support.
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