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How incarceration impacts child support

Whether on the giving or receiving end of child support payments, parents who become incarcerated may wonder how the imprisonment impacts their children. The Texas Office of the Attorney General addresses some of the questions they may have.

If incarcerated parents think they no longer matter to their children, the OAG is the first to argue otherwise. Believing "children need love and support from both parents," the office encourages fathers and mothers to continue demonstrating care and concern for their kids, even from a jail cell.

The OAG also offers to assist dads and moms by providing information about their specific cases or about the establishment of paternity, if needed. In addition, the office can inform parents regarding terms of their child support agreement and review their eligibility for payment modification. What the OAG cannot do is provide legal advice or change custody arrangements. 

What if a parent goes to jail and is unable to work? How does the inability to earn income impact support payments? Dads and moms might assume child support orders automatically adjust, but according to the OAG, they do not. Parents must file appropriate court documents to request a modification.

Note that a 2015 change in Texas law requires the court to consider incarcerations of more than 90 days a "substantial change in circumstances," according to the OAG. If parents find themselves in this situation and desire a modification in the child support agreement, filing the required legal papers is a step in the right direction.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is quick to point out the inherent hardships of imprisonment on both parents and children, and encourages dads and moms to manage child support payments well so they do not become overwhelmed.

Proactive management of child support orders can alleviate stress for the whole family, creating a healthier emotional environment. Talking about the situation can also strengthen the family's well-being, according to the DHHS.

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