Child support is one of the most significant ways that a noncustodial parent can provide for his or her child. In New York, child support can be used to provide a child with important needs like housing or food, or for expenses related to the child's schooling, extracurricular activities and travel. Often, child support matters are resolved contemporaneously with divorce matters; unmarried individuals can also seek child support from their former partners if the parties share children.
Once child support is ordered, a parent is required to make payments on the schedule established in the relevant child support order or agreement. Child support is a financial obligation and a parent who fails to make payments or who makes delinquent payments may be penalized for his or her deficiencies. Even if a parent is incarcerated and unable to earn any money, he or she may still be required to pay child support for the financial maintenance of his or her kids.
Though New York judges may look at a parent's incarceration and determine if a change to an existing child support order is warranted, courts do not have to relieve incarcerated individuals of their child support obligations. During a period of incarceration, a parent may not only accrue back payments but also interest on those payments if such a provision is included in his or her child support order or agreement.
Regardless of why a parent cannot pay child support, he or she may face serious consequences for those missed sums. In some cases a parent may seek to have a child support order modified to accommodate the parent's change in financial circumstances; incarceration may or may not be persuasive to a court considering an individual's request to change a child support order.
Source: kitv.com, "Behind bars and owing thousands in child support," Tanzina Vega, June 14, 2016