Child support serves as a source of financial stability for post-divorce parents. Failing to account for it may mean possible jail time. But what if the situation takes a turn and an obligated parent faces incarceration for another crime? What happens to child support payments during this period of legal confinement?
Payment suspension with conditions
If a parent with child support obligations lands in jail, they may be temporarily exempt from making payments during their confinement. However, this only applies if:
- The parent’s sentence is 180 consecutive calendar days or longer (beginning October 1, 2012).
- Financial constraints prevent them from fulfilling child support payments while incarcerated.
- The parent’s incarceration is not a strategic ploy to evade child support (“voluntary impoverishment”).
Additionally, sentenced parents must prove their inability to meet child support payments due to the jail sentence.
Following imprisonment, parents do not need to initiate changes to their child support payments. The Child Support Enforcement office can independently change the account if the incarcerated parent is eligible. Then, they can send a written notice to the payment recipient.
Note that those sentenced prior to October 1, 2012, should follow a different process.
The crucial detail to remember is that the child support order is still in force throughout the jail time period. However, it does not mean the paying parent no longer pays for these. Payments will recommence after release, although not immediately. They have 60 days to resume child support payments as stipulated by the order.
Paying child support is a legal obligation in Maryland. Although the changes in the law have helped incarcerated parents with owed payments to prevent the accumulation of arrears, these payments remain obligatory even after their release.