A child support order by a judge, whether created as part of a divorce or at another time, is not to be taken lightly. Those who violate support orders face a variety of possible penalties including fines and jail time. The obligation to comply with a court order to pay child support does not typically change on its own, even when your life circumstances change.
If your income or expenses have changed and you need to modify a support order, you must do so through a court. You cannot decide on your own to lower your monthly payments to your child’s other parent. While those who have lost a job or suffered any other type of financial issue are typically able to petition a court to change a support order, those who have been arrested or jailed on an unrelated charge face different challenges.
When a parent who pays child support is jailed, their support order does not change automatically. They can accrue debts and incur fines and other penalties while sitting in government custody. For this reason, it is essential that you speak with a family law attorney soon after your arrest.
An attorney can help you petition a judge to modify the support order, possibly lowering or suspending payments while you are in state custody and out of work. Support orders can be difficult to change, because in addition to proving that there has been a substantial change in your circumstances, you will need to demonstrate that modifying the order is in the best interests of your child. Even if a judge won’t change your payments while you are jailed, a court may be willing to put you on a payment plan after your release to handle any back payments that you owe.