The Obama administration has announced a program that will launch in 2017 and that will allow people who are incarcerated to temporarily suspend their child support payments. The parents will need to report that their incarceration is involuntary, and doing so will allow them to effectively pause their obligation.
The goal of the program is to help keep individuals who are in prison from getting into an enormous amount of debt that they cannot get out of. It may also help to keep people from ending up in prison again if they fail to keep up with their payments. Child support payments regularly exceed $100 a month, and prisoners routinely make less than a dollar an hour, so meeting their obligations is nearly impossible.
There are some opponents of the program, and they state that it will allow prisoners to avoid their debt and put single parents at a disadvantage. However, when someone is late in making support payments, much of the money spent catching up ends up going to the government for fines instead of to the custodial parent.
There are of course other reasons besides incarceration why a parent is unable to make the court-ordered payment. In many cases, an unexpected financial downturn due to a job loss or a medical emergency is the cause. A parent in this situation may want to have the assistance of a family law attorney in petitioning the court for a reprieve through a child support modification, which in some cases will be granted upon the showing of proper and conclusive evidence.