Should Jail Be a Reason to “Pause” Child Support?

Fathers in prison facing high debt over child support will have the opportunity to “press pause” on their child support obligations.  According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration announced new adjustments that will allow fathers to label their incarceration as “involuntary” to avoid increasing arrears while they are in jail.

This program would allow a reduction for child support payments, that isn’t currently allowed in many states.  Many states consider prison voluntary, and thus it does not qualify as a reduction for child support.  The new program would not be carried out until 2017.

But many are asking – is this fair? Why should incarcerated fathers get a break on child support – at a cost to the taxpayer?  Why should the mother have to bear the financial burden on her own of raising the child? Supporters of the program argue that billing fathers while they are in prison does not do anything except dig them deeper into debt.  Many don’t even know that the debt is accumulating until they are released from prison – at which time the large amount owed forces them to go to the underground economy for money.

Is this a fair program?

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