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Inmates now allowed to file motions to modify child support

Inmates in North Carolina prisons may be able to file motions to modify their child support amounts under new rules that have been unveiled by the Obama administration. The rules mandate that states let inmates who are incarcerated for six months or more to file motions to reduce their child support amounts while they are in custody.

The rules were issued on Dec. 19 by the Administration for Children and Families. They have been in the works for several years as a part of President Obama's efforts to reform the criminal justice system. A study that was conducted in 2010 involving federal inmates found that 51,000 prisoners had child support orders. Of those, approximately 29,000 were behind on their payments with an average delinquency of close to $24,000.

The Obama administration points to the need for reform because inmates often leave prison facing staggering amounts of child support debt that they are unable to pay. This often leads to their reincarceration. Some states consider imprisonment as a form of voluntary unemployment and have not allowed inmates to file modification motions on the basis of reduced incomes. Most inmates make very little money while they are in custody, making it impossible for them to pay their child support as ordered. The rules would mandate that the states inform the parents that parents who are incarcerated for six months or more may file to modify their child support amounts.

Child custody and support orders are issued in the best interests of the children. In some cases, the circumstances of the parents will later change substantially, necessitating a change in the issued orders. A parent whose circumstances have changed to the extent that the existing arrangement no longer works may want to get help from a family law attorney when seeking to file a motion to modify the order.

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