WASHINGTON Dec 19 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 reincarceration.
"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
effectivly 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
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. [bit.ly/2h59Ba6]
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)