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Suspension of child support payments for incarcerated parents

In Maryland, parents who are incarcerated will no longer be exempted, in most instances, from child support payments while behind bars. The House of Delegates passed the bill with a slim margin this Wednesday.

The bill was up for debate because while under incarceration, other debts, such as credit cards, must continue to be paid. Others on the side of opposition may have argued that it was seemingly unfair to the child and custodial parent.

However, upon release the payments will be continued. The former inmate and parent will have a 60-day reprieve and will then have to continue their child support payments.

The exceptions to this new law, meaning those who will need to continue with the payments while incarcerated, are individuals on work release, individuals with enough assets to continue payments while incarcerated, or individuals who intentionally committed a crime that would lead to incarceration as a means of avoiding the payments.

One floor leader is reported as saying regarding the issue, “You would be surprised at the length to which some people will go to not pay child support.” It appears that it was for this reason that the stipulation of individuals intentionally attempting to avoid child support payments would not receive the exemption while behind bars.

However, this last stipulation may raise some questions. How exactly will the court determine if a parent deliberately committed a crime as a vehicle to evade child support payments? Will they look at their payment history? What if their payment history is poor because they don’t possess the funds to remain current with payments? The exact means of determination remains to be seen.

Source: Maryland Reporter, “House approves suspension of child support payments for inmates,” Justin Snow, Mar. 22, 2012

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