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Obama's rule regarding child support remains unaffected

Texas parents may be interested to learn that a regulation put in place by former President Barack Obama regarding the collection of child support payments from incarcerated parents has not yet been affected by the new administration. The rule, which took effect on Jan. 19, requires states to set more realistic child support amounts for parents who are incarcerated and cannot meet their obligations.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that states were imposing unreasonable child support payment obligations on incarcerated parents. Because many incarcerated parents are unable to pay what they owe while in prison, the debt continues to grow larger. When they are released from prison, they may be unable to make up that debt, causing them to potentially become incarcerated again for nonpayment. This cycle can continue, preventing them from being able to get themselves out of poverty and from being involved in their children's lives.

With the rule in effect, states cannot consider incarceration to be considered voluntary unemployment. As such, states are required to use guidelines that allow the parents' ability to pay to be properly assessed. In fact, a 2006 federal study showed that in nine states, 70 percent of all delinquent child support payments were owed by parents who were living under the poverty line.

If parents cannot make the child support payments that they owe do to a change in their financial circumstances, a family law attorney may help. If the reason is, for example, the unexpected loss of a job, the attorney may seek a modification of the child support order by going through the court system.

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