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Prison used as incentive to get parents to pay child support

For Pennsylvania parents who are behind on child support, the threat of prison may be used as an effective incentive for people who are able but unwilling to pay. However, there are critics who argue that imprisonment may lead to the risk of debt or unemployment, further increasing a parent's child support balance.

In the event that a parent fails to pay child support, a recent report confirms that authorities are legally able to withhold 65 percent of the parent's paycheck as well as seize bank accounts, deduct owed money from tax refunds and suspend driver's and professional licenses all before imprisonment. Although the numbers vary by state, parents with overdue child support are showing up in the thousands in penitentiaries.

If the custodial parent is on public assistance, that may not change the child support amounts or whether the other parent is obligated to pay. The parent paying child support must pay the required child support amount plus pay back the cost of welfare reimbursement. The cost of one or both of these could hinder the paying parent from having a reasonable income for their own bills, rent, mortgage or everyday living expenses.

Parents who are involved in child support disputes may want to contact an attorney to discuss financial plans, learn what their risks are for paying lesser rates than what the court system has calculated or get an idea of how much child support would cost should the two parents separate or divorce. While child support rates are calculated on an individual basis, parents may be able to get a better idea of how to best work together during child support legal cases.

Source: Madame Noire, "Should men go to jail when they fail to pay child support?," Lauren R.D. Fox, April 20, 2015

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