Many New Jersey residents are aware that President Trump has delayed or blocked many regulations that were issued under the Obama administration, but he has not done so with one dealing with child support. It took effect on Jan. 19 and changes how states assess and collect child support from parents who are incarcerated.
Under the rule, parents who are incarcerated may not have their time in prison or jail counted as voluntary unemployment for child support purposes. States are instead supposed to order child support that is reasonable and based on the parents’ ability to pay. Previously, inmates in many states could not get reductions in their child support while they were serving time, leaving many to rack up substantial levels of debt.
The problem was compounded because judges would reincarcerate parents for failing to pay their child support. Now, judges are supposed to inquire about the parents’ financial ability to pay child support before they can sentence parents to jail terms for contempt of court.
People whose financial circumstances have changed since they were ordered to pay child support might want to file motions requesting child support modifications. This could be due to an unexpected job loss or medical emergency. If the changes were substantial and involuntary, courts may approve the request. Parents in this situation may want to get help from family law attorneys in this regard. However, if the motion is granted, it will only apply to payments in the future. It will have no effect whatsoever on any past due amounts, which will still be owed and for which collection efforts could be instituted.