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New rule allows for child support modifications by prisoners

Florida residents may be interested to know that, in his final months in office, President Obama has continued his pledge to overhaul the U.S. criminal justice system. In an attempt to reduce the rate of recidivism and help ease the transition back into society among former inmates, his administration has passed a new rule regarding child support payments.

According to reports, incarceration was long considered 'voluntary unemployment" by state child support enforcement services. This classification reportedly made it difficult for inmates to modify their child support order to reflect the lower income typically earned by prisoners. Without the ability to modify existing child support arrangements, many incarcerated parents accrued large amounts of support-related debt.

A previous survey found that, in 2010, the average amount of back child support owed by federal prisoners was around $24,000. Individuals who owe large sums of unpaid child support may face jail time, leaving former prisoners vulnerable to re-incarceration. Under the new rule, inmates will be able to request a reduction of their court-ordered child support payments while they are behind bars. Proponents of the rule believe that families will ultimately benefit from the policy. Those opposed to the change are concerned that some individuals will take advantage of the rule in order to avoid making their required support payments.

Individuals who are involved in a child support dispute may have questions about payment amounts, agreement modification or possible penalties in the case of delinquent payments. Support amounts are determined on an individual basis, depending on the employment status of both parents, the best interests of the child and the child's financial needs. A Florida child support attorney can assess the situation and determine how to proceed with a modification request.

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