Are you able to defer child support while you are incarcerated?

My boyfriend was told your can get a deferment while in prison. He was held in contempt with the court order. If so how would you requested a deferment for any period while incarcerated?

Asked on November 29, 2011 under Family Law, California

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding whether child support can be suspended while the parent of the child is incarcerated.  You should be aware that this answer can be very different depending on the state laws that govern the child support order.  A person may think that since a person is incarcerated that they do not have the means to continue paying support for the child, but many courts do not agree with that reasoning.  It depends greatly if the state court perceives incarceration as a voluntary or involuntary act.  If someone intentionally commits a crime, some courts believe that the person was voluntarily incarcerated.  Other state courts disagree that people do not commit crimes to be incarcerated to avoid paying child support.

Courts especially frown up individuals incarcerated for avoiding support. The court system does not want to reward someone’s violation of a court’s order to pay support by suspending the responsibility to pay child support, because the individual is imprisoned for avoiding this very responsibility.  Many courts perceive the incarcerated obligors of child support comparable to those obligors that reduce their income by choice.  If someone chose to work a lower paying job to pay less child support, the courts would deny any modification motion to reduce child support payments.  Courts do not want to reward parents for making decisions that negatively affect the well-being of children.

A person can always file for a request to modify a current child support order to reduce or suspend child support payments while they are incarcerated, but the decision will be on a case-by-case basis.  An obligor should not stop payments on their own without the court’s permission, because then they can be held in contempt of the court’s child support order.

 


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