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Child support rules for inmates may be changed

Ohio parents may be interested to learn that the Obama administration plans to use its final weeks to modify the legal child support obligations for prisoners. According to critics, the practice of forcing prisoners to pay while they locked up and unable to work often causes them to end up with crippling debts.

The rule would allow prisoners to modify their child support orders so they could legally pay less while they remained incarcerated. This way, inmates would not incur large debts that are difficult to pay off while they make the transition back into society. In some cases, a failure to pay child support after a person leaves prison can lead right back to incarceration, creating a cycle that is very difficult for some to escape.

Critics of the potential changes worry that the rules could allow parents to avoid providing financial support for their children. While it was expected that Democrats and Republicans would be able to come together to work on the issue, efforts to come to an agreement stalled. This has led the administration to use other means to legally make the changes to child support laws for inmates.

A failure to pay child support can result in significant sanctions imposed upon the delinquent non-custodial parent. Penalties can range from a suspension of a driver's or professional license to wage garnishment and, in some cases, jail sentences. If the failure is due to a bona fide inability to pay, such as unemployment or a medical emergency, an attorney could assist in seeking a modification of the original order.

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