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Parents going to jail for not paying child support

While there is no question that children have financial needs, one debate that is of concern to Connecticut parents is whether someone should go to jail for not paying child support. While some people believe that failure to pay child support should be a crime, others argue that jail is a draconian measure that does not take into account the financial situation of many low-income parents.

While the United States technically eliminated debtors' prisons a long time ago, individuals who are behind on child support payments are sometimes subject to criminal penalties. While this can be an inducement for some parents to make sure they pay their support obligations on time, some experts believe that the system effectively traps non-custodial parents in a cycle of imprisonment and financial difficulty.

Critics of sending people to jail for late payments have noted that serving jail time and having a criminal record can make it difficult for people to find employment. As a result, these individuals may have difficulty making child support payments in the future. This can lead to a rearrest, further unemployment and increasing debt. While it is possible to ask a judge for a child support modification order, in which the judge considers the parent's earning potential alongside the best interests of the child, not all parents understand their rights in this area.

Non-custodial parents who are concerned about paying child support may benefit from speaking to a family law attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the child support agreement and, when appropriate, suggest modifications based on the client's financial situation.

Source: Madame Noire, "Should men go to jail when they fail to pay child support?," Lauren R.D. Fox, April 20, 2015

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