Can I Still Receive Child Support if the Parent is in Jail?

You are divorced and receiving child support from the non-custodial parent. The parent is then convicted of a crime and must spend several years in jail. So what happens to your child support payments now? Is the parent still obligated to pay?

It depends on the parent’s financial situation. If the person has income or assets that can be used to pay child support, then the order is still in effect. For example, disability income, rental income, bonds, stocks and other investments may be used to pay child support. Therefore, a person should not automatically assume that they do not have to pay child support simply because they are in jail.

If a person will not be able to fulfill their child support obligation while in jail, then they can request a modification. When a person sees a significant change in income—such as 25%—then they should contact a lawyer and request a modification. Incarceration is considered involuntary unemployment, much like being laid off.

A modification, if approved by a judge, allows them to pay a lower amount per month or suspend their payments for a period of time. Then the person would be on the hook for paying child support once they are out of jail.

Modifications are available to anyone who is facing financial difficulties. For example, a person who loses their job or becomes disabled can request a child support modification. But this goes both ways. For example, if a custodial parent finds out that the other parents has won the lottery or gotten a significant raise, then he or she can actually go to court and request that child support be increased. Therefore, it is possible that child support payments can go up or down over time based on finances.

What to Do if You Are the Custodial Parent

If there is no modification in place, then the child support order is still in effect. If the custodial parent is no longer receiving money from the other parent, then they can file a contempt action. Once this is filed, the parent either has to pay up or show that they cannot afford to do so. This will require a judge to look at the parent’s income and assets and make a determination.

If there is insufficient money or assets, then the judge can file a modification. The judge also has the power to leave the order as is. This means that if the parent refuses to pay, the amount will accrue. The parent can face penalties if they do not take care of this debt.

Contact a Maryland Divorce Lawyer Today

Getting child support can be tricky when the paying parent is in jail. Typically, those in jail are not earning any income, so be prepared to financially support your child on your own.

There may be options available, though. Get the help you need from a Columbia divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. We have two offices to serve you. Schedule a free consultation today. Call (410) 774-5987 or fill out the online form


Recent Posts



Anne Arundel County

Empire Towers
7310 Ritchie Highway, Suite 910
Glen Burnie, MD 21061

Phone: 410-766-0113

Fax: 410-766-0270

Howard County On the grounds of Columbia Mall

30 Corporate Center
10440 Little Patuxent Parkway,
Suite 900
Columbia, MD 21044

Phone: 410-964-0050

Baltimore County (Arbutus/Catonsville)

Phone: 410-719-7377

Fax: 410-766-0270