Does a Person Have To Pay Child Support when They’re in Jail?

There are some things in life that are difficult to get out of: your cousin’s wedding, that blind date that just won’t end, and child support.

Child support in Utah is so difficult to get out of that it follows people to jail (or prison, as the case may be).

At first, being responsible for paying child support while in jail doesn’t make sense.

How can you pay child support in jail? It’s almost completely impossible.

It just seems mean to hold someone responsible for something they can’t possibly do.

There’s pretty good logic to it, though.

Being a criminal is a decision.

Admittedly, it’s a bad decision, but it’s a decision people make every day.

The decision to do criminal things comes with certain, let’s say, potentialities, like, let’s say, jail time.

All criminals know they could serve jail time. It’s why they try to not get caught.

So, if a parent decides to do criminal things and knows very well he or she may go to jail for doing those things, why should that parent’s child suffer for that decision?

In other words, a child shouldn’t be deprived of support simply because a parent does something criminal and gets caught. It’s not the child’s fault, so the child should suffer as little as possible.

Utah has dealt with a case about this very matter.

In Proctor v. Proctor, 773 P.2d 1389, Utah App. 1989, a father was incarcerated for his volitional criminal activity.

Rejecting the father’s argument that his jail sentence precluded him from paying anything more than nominal child support (about $30 per month), the Court of Appeals stated: “We agree with the trial court that an able-bodied person who stops working, as an exercise of personal preference or as a result of punishment for an intentional criminal act, nonetheless retains the ability to earn and the duty to support his or her children.” 773 P.2 at 1391.

So, in the end, yes, a person does have to pay child support when they’re in jail.

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