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Facing child support issues from behind bars in Texas

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Being convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison is obviously a life-changing event that brings many challenges to a person on both personal and professional levels. When a person serving time in a Texas prison is a father, he might find himself facing issues regarding child support. Since he is in jail, and not currently earning a living in the workplace, this can amount to tremendous financial debt, thus adding further challenge to an already stressful situation.

A man who was 19 years of age when he was sentenced to prison in 1997 described the turmoil he felt when he began to receive notices in jail, stating that he owed child support. When he entered the prison, hundreds of miles away from his baby daughter, his then girlfriend married another man. The notices began to arrive to the penitentiary approximately two months after the man was sent there.

It is estimated that there are more than two million people incarcerated throughout the United States. Many of them are fathers. Because imprisonment is often seen as "voluntary impoverishment," these men can incur a substantial amount of debt due to the fact that accrued back child support is typically far more than any wages earned in prison would be able to cover. Some say that new federal regulations are slated to be implemented by individual states by 2017. The regulations would classify incarceration as "involuntary" impoverishment, thus enabling child support payments to be placed on hold.

Those who oppose the new regulations have stated that allowing men in prison to place child support payments on hold places the burden of support solely on taxpayers. Some have said that allowing an incarcerated parent to abdicate his responsibility to provide for his children leads to more families depending on welfare. Any Texas parent who is facing legal issues regarding child support while a father is imprisoned can contact a legal professional for guidance in the matter.

Source: The Washington Post, "For men in prison, child support becomes a crushing debt", Eli Hager, Oct. 18, 2015

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