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What happens if the parent paying child support is incarcerated?

Child support is a court-ordered responsibility. It is designed to provide for the care of your children. If your child’s other parent is ordered to pay by an Illinois court and then ends up being incarcerated, this responsibility does not change. Parents are expected to pay regardless of their personal situation if there is a child support order. Therefore, if your child’s other parent is detained, this will not affect your ability to get an order for support.  

According to the Illinois Attorney General, child support may not be collected while a parent is incarcerated due to a lack of income, but the debt will add up. For example, if a father is incarcerated for three months and nothing is paid during that time, he will owe three months’ worth of back child support when he is released. Being in jail or prison is not an acceptable excuse to not pay. The underlying thought is that the child’s needs do not change at all even if the parents’ abilities do. This is why it is not common for a court to completely dismiss the obligations even if the paying parent is imprisoned.

The parent that is incarcerated can petition the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to review the case and ask to get child support reduced during incarceration. This will only be temporary, though. The court will not likely suspend support. If the parent can get work release or work detail, it is possible for any wages earned to go towards child support. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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