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There are approximately 1.49 million people in federal and state prison. More than 50 percent of those inmates have one or more children under the age of 18, leaving an estimated 2.7 million children with a parent incarcerated. In addition, a 2003 study estimated that one quarter of inmates in prisons had a child support case. Based on current prison populations, this suggests that approximately 400,000 inmates have a child support case.

How does Kentucky Handle Incarceration?

In Kentucky and in virtually all states, if a noncustodial parent is convicted of a crime and incarcerated, their obligation to pay child support does not end. If they are financially able they must pay their monthly child support payment during their period of incarceration. The parent who is in jail must show that he or she cannot pay the support because of their income being interrupted by the incarceration. So, if they are not able to make their child support payment the unpaid child support will continue to add up. Unpaid child support is called “arrears.” The judge can later order the other parent to pay the arrears when he or she is able. Under Kentucky’s child support policies, local child support agencies are prohibited from reviewing or modifying child support orders on the basis of incarceration. If a noncustodial parent were to file a motion with the court to reduce or modify their child support obligation, the local child support office would contest it, arguing that their income reduction is due to voluntary reasons. In other word the willful decision to break the law.

An “Enormous” Problem

With virtually no income, inmates who owe child support often leave prison with overwhelming debt—between $10,000 and $110,000 for each of them, according to a Marshall Project study of noncustodial parents in 10 states. Once out of prison, often with limited job prospects, some resorted to the “underground economy,” selling drugs, for example, and avoiding their families. Frequently, they wind up back in prison. It’s an enormous problem. The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement reports that late child support owed by all noncustodial parents—not only those in prison—totaled nearly $116 billion in 2015, and of that amount, less than $7.6 billion was paid.

We can help families on both sides of this issue. We are committed to helping families resolve legal challenges and get back to their lives. We offer the guidance and support that you will need when you are involved with the legal system.

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About Helmer Somers Law

Helmer Somers Law helps individuals and businesses navigate the complex system of rules that accompany all legal situations. We are licensed to practice in both Kentucky and Ohio and offers flexible, affordable payment terms for our services. We welcome the opportunity to earn your trust and become your lawyer for life! It’s a fact of life in the modern world. There comes a time for virtually every adult American when the services of a competent, dedicated lawyer are required. Circumstances such as divorce, bankruptcy, estate planning or an income tax audit demand that your rights be protected, and your long-term interests advocated for with diligence and perseverance. When you call Helmer & Somers Law, you can rest assured that they will be.

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