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Reforms of child support laws for inmates on the horizon

Many Californians spend time in jail or prison, and some who are incarcerated are also parents who have child support obligations. When they are incarcerated, their child support debt may continue to accumulate even though they make almost nothing. This leaves some ex-convicts facing staggering levels of debt when they are released.

President Obama has made changes to child support laws a part of his effort at criminal justice reform. The administration has stated that rules that will mandate that states allow inmates to modify their child support amounts while they are in custody should be in place before Obama leaves office.

A 2010 study conducted by the Obama administration of federal prisoners found that more than 50,000 inmates had child support orders. Of those people, approximately 29,000 owed back child support debt of an average of slightly less than $24,000. One of the problems of having huge child support debt levels when leaving prison is that people may have an even more difficult time finding work. They may also be in danger of reincarceration for failing to pay child support.

People whose financial circumstances have substantially changed since their child support orders were issued may be able to have the ordered amount modified by the courts that have jurisdiction over their cases. This can be the case when there is an unexpected job loss or medical emergency. A family law attorney may be able to help by filing a motion to modify the amount. It is important to know that, if granted, the modification will only apply to future payments and will have no effect on amounts that are past due.

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