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Rules would mandate child support modifications for inmates

Florida inmates may soon face less of a burden with burgeoning child support debt while they are in prison. The Obama administration is planning to issue new child support rules mandating that states allow inmates to modify their child support orders for the time that they are incarcerated.

The Obama administration believes that the rules will be in place before the end of his term. They are part of Obama's push for criminal justice reform. Many inmates leave prison facing thousands of dollars in child support debt that accrued, leaving them with crippling debt that often leads to reincarceration.

In 2012, the administration surveyed child support orders among federal prisoners. It found that 51,000 inmates in federal prison had child support orders, and approximately 29,000 of them were behind on their payments. The average debt burden was almost $24,000. Proponents of the new rules state that ex-inmates often have difficulty securing employment because of high child support debt. They also state that the ex-inmates have a risk of being placed in jail for failing to pay the back amounts that they owe.

Delinquent payments can result in a variety of sanctions to non-custodial parents. They could lose their driver's or professional licenses, and they may not be able to obtain a passport or have an existing one renewed. Delinquent parents could also see their paychecks garnished and their income tax refunds seized. While many non-custodial parents try to avoid their obligations, many are truly unable to make payments due to unforeseen financial circumstances such as a medical emergency or a job loss. Those who are in such a position may want to have legal assistance in seeking a modification of future amounts.

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