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Obama moves to change child support rules for inmates

Inmates in North Carolina often fall behind on their child support payments while they are incarcerated. This may leave them facing huge debt levels when they leave prison. The Obama administration is trying to put new rules in place that would let inmates modify their child support amounts while they are in prison.

As a part of its criminal justice reform efforts, the Obama administration is working to change child support practices across the country. While a majority of states allow inmates to modify their child support orders while they are incarcerated, 14 states do not. Other states make it difficult for inmates to get their child support modified even though many inmates make very little money while they are in prison.

In 2012, the administration conducted a survey of federal prisoners. It found that almost 29,000 inmates were behind on their child support payments. The average delinquency was $24,000. When inmates leave prison carrying crippling child support debt, they often have trouble finding employment. Many are even returned to jail for having delinquent child support balances.

Child custody and support may be modified if the circumstances of either parent change substantially. Incarceration is one example of a major life change. A family law attorney may help his or her client by completing the motion to modify. The lawyer may then litigate the motion on his or her client's behalf in court at a hearing on the motion to modify. People who have support orders should continue to pay as ordered while they are waiting for the judge's ruling on their motions.

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