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Incarcerated Parents and Ex-Offenders

What can I do at my sentencing hearing to modify my child support order?

In 2005, the District of Columbia enacted a law entitled “Notice at Sentencing of Child Support Modification.” The law allows all non-custodial parents (NCPs) who are being sentenced for 30 days or more for a criminal offense (non-child support criminal issues) to seek a modification of their child support order(s). The law also applies to NCPs whose probations are being revoked and who are facing a sentence of 30 days or more. Federal law prohibits an NCP to retroactively file a motion to modify a child support order after being released from prison. The motion must be filed at the time of sentencing or during imprisonment.

Any motions to modify can only be granted from the filing date of the motion and forward.

A child support order may not be subject to modification if the NCP is found to have an ability to pay support while incarcerated or is incarcerated for non-payment of child support order.

If I do not seek a modification do I still have to pay?

Yes. The new law does not automatically suspend support obligations when non-custodial parents are sent to jail or prison.

Once I'm released, what should I do about my child support order?

Contact the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) immediately and provide our office with your current address and updated financial information. If appropriate, CSSD will file a motion to reinstate your order.  Depending on your current financial information, the order could be the same or higher or lower. 

What are the benefits to modifying my order while incarcerated?

There is no way to change or modify your child support arrears (back child support) once they are on the books! 

How can I establish paternity if I'm incarcerated?

It’s easy. The paternity establishment process is available to parents if the parents are not married at the time of birth, conception, or anytime in between. Both the biological mother and biological father may sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity  (AOP). This process is strictly voluntary. (This is not a DNA test.) The AOP may be completed at CSSD, Vital Records , or the hospital.

Can you change your mind after you have filed the acknowledgment of paternity?

Yes. Either parent may rescind the Acknowledgment of Paternity by completing a rescission form and filing it with CSSD or Vital Records within 60 days of the last notarized signature.
If you are not sure if you are the father, a genetic test can help determine the identity of the biological father.  YOU SHOULD NOT SIGN THE AOP IF YOU STILL HAVE QUESTIONS OR DOUBTS ABOUT BEING THE FATHER.

Can CSSD refer me to services to help me get back on my feet after I'm released?

Yes! CSSD has several programs that can assist you. Call today to see if you qualify!

Fathering Court

A program that offer Fathers who have not been making child support payments in the District of Columbia for a long time a chance to make a fresh start. The Fathering Court  offers job training, counseling, jobs, and support to get lives back on track. Fathers will be educated, counseled, and encouraged to place the needs of their children first.

Department of Employment Services Referrals

CSSD can make referrals for training and employment services with the Department of Employment Services.

Important Reminders

CSSD encourages all non-custodial parents to explore their right to a modification should they become incarcerated. If your order is modified to reflect the actual ability to pay while in prison, you will leave prison with less child support arrears owed. This will allow your re-entry into society to be much easier.

For Free Legal Information

Please contact the Family Court Self-Help Center, a free walk-in service that provides unrepresented people with general legal information in a variety of family law matters.
Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 879-1471