Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop when someone is convicted of a crime and incarcerated. When a parent is sentenced to jail or prison, he or she may have to set up a caregiver for their child. They may need to establish temporary legal custody for that caregiver, or they may need to set up a formal guardianship.
If the parent is sent to prison for years, they may need to have a trusted family member or even a friend adopt their child. Then, some incarcerated parents have to deal with pregnancy in jail or prison, the state may be involved with their children, the offender may need to terminate their parental rights, establish paternity, arrange for visitation, or pay child support – all while the offender is behind bars.
Will Child Support Stop?
If you’re the noncustodial parent and a court has ordered you to pay child support, you’re still responsible for your child support obligation, even while you’re behind bars. The state does not consider being in jail or prison an excuse to avoid responsibility.
If you are sent away for some time and you stop paying the child support, it can have a lot of negative ramifications when you’re released, such as:
- Your driver's license can be suspended.
- Your bank account can be levied.
- The arrears will have added up the whole time you were gone.
- Your tax refunds can be intercepted.
- You can be held in contempt of court and jailed.
- Your professional and occupational (e.g. fishing) licenses can be suspended.
Under Florida law, child support can only be reduced if there has been a “substantial change of circumstances” and having your income stop as a result of incarceration would count as substantial. My advice to clients facing incarceration is to file a Motion to Modify Child Support with the same court that ordered them to pay the child support.
Even though the court probably won’t rule until the prisoner is released, the payments that were due after the offender filed the Motion may be altered, reduced, or otherwise modified. But without filing this Motion, the child support payments will continue to accrue and there would be no way to go back and reduce them.
Contact my Miami criminal defense firm if you’re facing criminal charges. All of my initial consultations are free.