Can you make a parent in jail pay child support for their children? In many cases the answer may be “Yes.”
Florida Statute 61.30 provides for imputation of income to parents who are voluntarily unemployed. Florida courts have held in multiple instances that an incarcerated parent is voluntarily unemployed as defined by the statute. The courts dealing with this issue have imputed income to the jailed parent based on their prior documented work history. The imputation of income allows the court to determine a child support amount according to the state guidelines. Once the court can determine the amount the jailed parent should be paying, then it is only a matter of finding a source of funds to pay that support. If the jailed parent has retirement savings, those funds can be liquidated to pay support. Additionally, in at least one case, a spouse was given the jailed spouse’s share of the marital home and assets as a lump sum support payment.
Alternatively, if the jailed spouse has no assets to utilize to pay support, several courts have held that the unpaid support arrearage should be allowed to build and accumulate during the spouse’s incarceration. The thought is that support payments towards back support can be made by the jailed spouse once they are released from incarceration and begin working again.