A large percentage of men and women in our nation’s state and federal prisons are parents whose parental rights have not been terminated. Since both parents are expected to financially support their child, incarcerated parents with parental rights still have this obligation.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “As of Dec. 31, 2015, there were approximately 1.53 million people in federal and state prison. More than 50 percent of those inmates have one or more child under the age of 18, leaving an estimated 2.7 million children with a parent incarcerated.” In addition to that, the NCSL mentioned how one study estimated that 25 percent of prison inmates had a child support case.
How Does Kentucky Handle Incarceration?
In virtually all states, if a noncustodial parent is convicted of a crime and incarcerated, their obligation to pay child support does not end. If the parent has the financial means to pay their monthly child support payment, they will have to continue making payments during their period of incarceration.
But if the incarcerated parent can’t afford to make their child support payments because their income is interrupted by the incarceration, and they don’t have the money in the bank, the incarcerated parent has to petition the court for a downward modification. However, that’s other states, and that is NOT how it’s done in Kentucky.
If a noncustodial parent is incarcerated in Kentucky, he or she will run into barriers to having their child support reduced. Under Kentucky’s child support policies, local child support agencies are prohibited from reviewing or modifying child support orders on the basis of incarceration. If a noncustodial parent were to file a motion with the court to reduce (modify) their child support obligation, the local child support office would contest it, arguing that their income reduction was due to “voluntary” reasons. In other words, the willful decision to break the law.