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Changes to help inmates pay child support

A number of states have begun to implement changes designed to help fathers in prison obtain child support modification so that they will not fall behind on their payments.

The Associated Press reports some states, including Texas and Massachusetts, allow inmates who are fathers to modify their child support so they are only paying between $20 and $80 per month. In addition, Connecticut and a number of other states have rules that allow judges to stop child support payments completely when the payer has no source of income.

Charisse Hutton, Connecticut’s director of support enforcement services, said that such rules typically lead to more fathers actually making child support payments.

“I want that order to be fair, so there is a better chance that person can and will pay,” she told the news source.

However, some states, such as Tennessee, consider jail “voluntary unemployment” and allow fathers to accumulate tens of thousands of dollars in back child support, something that advocates say hurts the chances of it ever being paid.

In 2007, there was nearly $25 billion collected in child support payments around the country, according to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Tennessee child custody reform awaits governor

Some legal experts say that a child custody bill that was passed by both the Tennessee House and Senate will allow for more sharing custody between parents.

The Associated Press reports that the bill recently passed through the state Senate 19-9 after having been approved 92-0 in the lower house in April.

The Tenneessean reports that the bill would require judges to look into how custody orders can maximize the involvement of a parent in the life of their son or daughter.

Legal analysts told the news source that the bill was a compromise to plans advocated by fathers’ rights groups. Those groups had hoped that judges would be required to divide child custody 50-50 in cases where there is no evidence that it would be harmful for a child.

Democratic state Sen. Beverly Marrero told the AP that judges should have “tools to do what they think is in the best interest of the children of Tennessee.”

The news provider reports that the bill, which was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Andy Berke, will be reviewed by Gov. Bill Haslam when it reaches his desk.