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Poor people jailed more often for not paying child support

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2011 | Firm News

When it comes to missing child support payments, poor people are often times simply put into jail. They are not represented by legal counsel because they cannot afford it. In recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving cases where a non-custodial parent is accused of not paying their child support, justices said that individuals are not entitled to have a lawyer provided for them under the U.S. Constitution.

In addition, a number of poor non-custodial parents in Texas and elsewhere who are unable to meet their child support obligations are jailed without a judge taking into account whether or not they have the resources to pay the court-ordered support.

A similar case involved a 39-year-old man who lost his job and fell behind in his support payments. The Iraqi war veteran was surprised when the judge in his case ordered him to spend time in jail for not making regular child support payments.

He had thought the judge would be lenient given the fact that he had been making regular support payments up until he lost his job. The war veteran had recently returned to work and had asked the judge to give him another 45 days before resuming paying on his child support. Instead, the judge put him behind bars where he served three months before finally being released.

Faced with the prospect of having to serve time in jail, many people do find a way to meet their support payments. Critics say that even though jail time has been an effective way to motivate people to pay child support, the action is unfair to the poor and unemployed. Critics also point out the law requires that a person must have willfully violated the law before a jail sentence can be imposed.

Source: msnbc.msn.com, “Unable to pay child support, poor parents land behind bars,” Mike Brunker, Sept. 12, 2011