Family Matters Law Group P.A.
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Incarcerated Parents and Child Support in Florida

The law in Florida has, until recently, been that incarnation is deemed voluntary on the part of the incarnated parent and therefore not a basis for modification of child support. However, the Obama administration may change that as soon as 2017 by reclassify incarceration as "involuntary". This may give incarcerated parents new options in terms of protecting themselves from exiting jail with extremely high child support arrears, which theoretically could end them back in jail and at best leaves these parents with insurmountable debt that they likely can never pay off. It also can leave these parents with a suspended driver's license and a revoked passport.

Even before these changes take place, it is important for parents who are or will be incarcerated to know that they MUST file a Petition for Modification of Child Support as soon as practically possible after their arrest even if that Petition may not lead to an immediate reduction in child support. The case of Dep't of Revenue v. Jackson, 846 So. 2d 486, 489 (Fla. 2003), proposed that such Petitions be placed "on hold" for lack of a better word during the term of incarnation. Because we have not been reducing a parent's obligation while they are in jail or prison leads many parents to believe that filing such a petition is a waste of time - nothing could be further from the truth.

Florida Statutes provide that "any unpaid payment or installment of support which has accrued up to the time either party files a motion with the court to alter or modify the support order" may not be reduced by the court. However, any unpaid amount that accrues AFTER the filing of a petition to modify may be reduced by the Court. So, filing the Petition, as soon as possible is key to have a chance of reduction of the total amount due upon a parent's release. The Obama's plan's redefining of the imprisonment as involuntary will further support a Judge's decision to reduce or eliminate the child support arrears which accrues while a parent is unable to work.

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