On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Support on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.
Who suffers when a noncustodial parent — most often a father — is incarcerated by a state for failure to meet his child support obligations?
Arguably, everyone involved by such a decision is adversely impacted. The father obviously forgoes any opportunity to earn money to provide for his children while locked behind bars. Moreover, the criminal record that attaches to nonpayment of his support duties stigmatizes him in the eyes of many potential employers who might view his job resume in the future.
And to top it off, many states refuse to modify — by either suspending or reducing — child support payments for incarcerated fathers. That can result in the perverse irony that a person locked up for failure to pay owes more leaving a jail than when he entered it, even though his detention precluded him from the chance to earn any income.
Mothers, too, suffer greatly in overt and obvious ways. A lack of money has myriad and deleterious effects on families with children, affecting important matters ranging from school opportunities and health care decisions to clothing choices and even food purchases. Moreover, and as noted in a recent media story spotlighting the need for child support reforms in the United States, “single mothers are particularly likely to be poor,” with support payments being critically important to them as caregivers.
And as for affected children, the adverse effects of irregular support payments could hardly be more apparent. Severe money stresses spill over into family life in a manner that can have permanent adverse consequences for kids.
The above-cited media report argues that child support ideas and policies across the United States are in urgent need of reform, and that “the best model is likely to be found in Europe.”
We’ll take a look at that argument and some of the central recommendations offered in our next blog post.