Debtors' prisons are a thing of the past, right? Not according to critics of the current child support regime. Ohio is one of five states that, under certain circumstances, allow parents who are behind on child support payments to be put in jail without the chance to speak to an attorney. Opponents of the way child support laws punish non-paying parents say this is akin to imprisoning people who cannot afford to pay their debts -- a practice we left behind in the 1800s.
Of course, every parent has a duty, both legal and moral, to make his or her child support payments. Child support payments are meant to provide your son or daughter with food, shelter and medical care and it would be unjust to deprive a child of those things if you are able to pay for them.
But that last part is a big "if." Especially with the economy in the sorry shape it has been in lately, many single parents are unemployed or under-employed and are barely making enough to keep themselves afloat, let alone make child support payments.
In some cases, though, the fact that making child support payments is an economic impossibility does not carry the weight you might think it does - or even matter at all. Thousands of parents across the country are put in jail each year for violating their child-support agreements.
Statistics on parents jailed for failure to pay child support are hard to come by, but it is probably fair to say that some of them are dodging their obligations and deserve to be punished, but others simply cannot keep up.
If you are having trouble making your child support payments, do not allow the problem to grow. Speak to a family law attorney about what you should do. He or she will be able to point out courses of action for someone in your situation.
Source: MSNBC, "Unable to pay child support, poor parents land behind bars," Mike Brunker, Sept. 12, 2011