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President Trump keeps Obama's child support rule intact

Illinois child support orders issued during divorce proceedings provide the custodial parent with monthly payments to cover a minor's everyday expenses. However, there are times when the non-custodial parent does not keep up with the terms of the order. In some cases, this is because the parent has been incarcerated.

President Barack Obama addressed the problem by issuing a rule towards the end of his second term requiring each state to revisit its child support formula with an eye on reasonableness. In particular, the rule ordered states to no longer treat a stay in jail as voluntary unemployment. Instead, state agencies were to inform both parents proactively that an incarceration of more than six months could be grounds for a child support modification filing. The rule, which took effect on Jan. 19, 2017, was among the set of last-minute regulations the Obama administration issued. Although when Trump took office he indicated that he was going to be rolling back some of these rules, the child support one has not yet been revisited.

Because poor parents in general, and incarcerated ones in particular, lack the income needed to provide for a child's cost of living, delinquent payments soon pile up and lay the basis for future jail terms. By keeping the order intact, payments that help custodial parents meet children's expenses must be based on the non-custodial parent's actual income rather than someone's income potential. Experts believe that this approach will reduce the cycle of incarcerations that leads to job losses and mounting debts.

A parent seeking to enforce a child support order in situations where the obligor has simply refused to pay may want to meet with a family law attorney to see what options might be available. In some cases, the attorney can file a motion with the court having jurisdiction for a wage garnishment order.

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