Obama administration revamps child
support rules for prisoners
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[December 20, 2016]
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama
administration on Monday issued long-awaited rules aimed at ending state
policies that can leave prisoners saddled with crippling child support
The regulations crafted by the Administration for Children and Families
would require that prisoners be allowed to seek to lower the amount of
child support they pay while in prison. The move aims to avoid inmates
struggling to repay large debts after their release that can lead to
"By ensuring states set their orders based on actual circumstances in
the family, we believe the rule will result in more reliable child
support payments, and children will benefit," Assistant Secretary for
Children and Families Mark Greenberg said in a statement.
Under the new regulations, states would not be allowed to treat
incarceration as "voluntary unemployment," a policy that effectively
blocked prisoners from modifying existing child support orders. States
would also be required to notify both parents of the right to seek
changes to child support payments if one of the parents is incarcerated
for more than six months.
It is unclear whether the overhaul will face pushback from incoming
Republican President Donald Trump's administration. Some Republicans
lawmakers have opposed the regulations, arguing they would allow parents
to avoid their financial responsibilities.
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President Barack Obama
participates in his last news conference of the year at the White
House before leaving for his annual Hawaiian Christmas holiday in
Washington, U.S., December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The rules, first proposed in late 2014, are part of President Barack
Obama's push to reform the U.S. criminal justice system and to make
it easier for released inmates to re-enter society.
A 2010 administration survey found 51,000 federal prisoners had
child support orders, with almost 29,000 of them behind on payments.
The average amount owed was nearly $24,000.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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