Asking The Court To Waive Your Ex-Spouse's Child Support Arrears After A Period Of Incarceration Can Benefit You Both

There are a lot of parents who are anxious to collect every dime that's due them in unpaid child support from their exes. However, if your ex has recently been incarcerated, that can be problematic because there's simply no money to collect. It may even be to your advantage to voluntarily waive your rights to unpaid support. Here is why you should consider it.

Past unpaid child support can be a barrier that prevents future support from being paid.

When your ex was incarcerated, he or she may not have had the presence of mind to apply for a reduction in his or her support based on a lack of income—and it might not have mattered anyhow. While most states allow prisoners to reduce their support obligations, 14 states consider incarceration a form of voluntary unemployment.

If your ex emerges from prison saddled with a mountain of child support arrears, it can act as a demotivating factor—essentially either causing your ex to give up entirely or take a job that pays off the books. Either way, he or she avoids paying support altogether, figuring that it doesn't make any difference because he or she can't ever climb out from under the debt anyhow.

Waiving the arrears could encourage your ex to make future payments.

If you're going to ask the court to waive all or part of the arrears, offering a compelling reason is important. Most custodial parents aren't swimming in extra money, so you may not be able to convincingly say that you can't use the money. However, you may be able to point out to the judge that you've already endured the period during which your ex was incarcerated without the support. Put the emphasis on the fact that your goal is to see him or her start making support payments as soon as possible, which will help you in the present and future.

In many states, having child support arrears can cause your ex to lose his or her professional licenses and driver's license, which can make getting a legitimate job even harder. In some cases, parents who remain delinquent on child support can end up going back to jail, just for that offense alone. None of those things will help you get any support, so helping your ex avoid that problem really can be to your advantage as well.

If your primary goal is to get your ex motivated toward making his or her support payments after a period of incarceration, consider working with him or her for an equitable solution. Even if you can't afford to waive all of the arrears, you may be able to work together through the courts to find a solution that will make it possible for your ex to eventually catch up. For more advice, contact an attorney in your area, such as Lois Iannone Attorney at Law.