House approves suspension of child support payments for inmates

By Justin Snow

The House of Delegates narrowly passed a bill on Wednesday that would exclude individuals from making child support payments while serving a prison sentence.

prison barsUnder the legislation, child support payments would be suspended for anyone incarcerated for more than 18 consecutive months and continuing 60 days after their release to avoid the accrual of an unmanageable lump sum.

Excluded from the law would be anyone on work release, with assets determined to be sufficient to pay support, or who committed a crime with the intent of being incarcerated in order to avoid child support payments. The last provision raised questions from some delegates.

“You would be surprised at the length to which some people will go to not pay child support,” said floor leader Del. Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery.

The bill was approved 78-61, with opponents arguing that it was inherently unfair to children.

Explaining his red vote, Del. H. Wayne Norman, R-Harford, stated that credit card payments and other debts continue during incarceration, and so should child support payments.

“There’s no debt more important than the obligation you have to your own children,” said Norman.

Regulation of posthumous sperm and egg use approved

Also approved in the House was a bill providing guidance to the courts for a murky area of the law regarding sperm and egg donations.

The bill would prohibit the use of donated sperm or eggs after the donor’s death without his or her prior permission. Donors would have to provide written, signed and notarized consent that their sperm or eggs can be used after their death.

Sponsored by Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, D-Prince George’s, the bill would most directly affect military families who have struggled with the legal implications of Social Security survivor benefits for children artificially inseminated after a parent’s death. The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments on a case involving such a scenario Monday.

During debate on Tuesday, delegates raised questions about an area of the law that remains largely uncharted.

Del. C.T. Wilson, D-Charles, questioned who would be considered the birth mother under the law if a husband had the right to use the eggs of his deceased wife in a surrogate mother. According to Pena-Melnyk, the birth mother would still be listed as the mother on the birth certificate.

The House voted 97-36 in favor of the bill on Wednesday.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Guest 0914

    @ Guest…I definitely understand where you are coming from…I do agree that if a parent should pay their support and take care of their children they should receive some type of relief on their taxes, however, my view point on this new law is a bit different. My ex and I did not have a very amicable break up, but it was also a very abusive situation therefore, he did some time behind his actions. My thought on this is, why should my child have to do without and not receive the benefits she is due because her father committed a crime? I am a single mother who works full-time, I volunteer at her school whenever I possibly can and I get absolutely NO HELP from the government to raise my child. Regardless of the fact that my ex was not very consistent on making his payments and when he did they were some here and some there, does the fact that he did wrong in the eyes of the law make it ok for him to totally have this responsibility taken away from him? Does my child stop growing, eating, requiring funds and support for her school and extracurricular activities? And on the other hand, why should the custodial parent have to take on the entire burden for the amount of time that the other parent is incarcerated? The custodial parent did not break the law and has to carry out the responsibility of all financial aspects as well as all other parental duties. This just keeps me fired up…it is completely unfair!!!!!

    • right?

      You are absolutely correct
      In your situation it seems like your ex was able to pay his support order some of the time. Some people have such extensive criminal records or lack of opportunities that they are simply unable to pay these order and will not be able to pay them in the future. In this case continuing to increase someone’s debt and locking them up only turns people away from legitimate employment because the only job they can get pays $7 an hour. Some of these ex-offenders are $50,000 in child support arrears and trying to pay that off while fulfilling their current order. It incentivizes people to join the underground economy and commit crime because legitimate work is not an option. It is simply impossible for these people to accomplish this. Why waste time, money, and resources chasing something you will never get.

  2. EClark

    How can this be done in all 50 states?

  3. The Truth

    If Dumais thinks that some people choose jail over being in debt, why aren’t all members of General Assembly running into jail cells?

  4. Guest

    The child support system needs a major overhaul. My ex and I had a very amicable divorce and we kept it very fair because we did not let the attornies dictate it. If a parent pays their support- they need to recieve some relief on taxes because in the end that money goes nowhere towards their new life and is a burden they have to bear while the custodial parent receives a chunk of money they do not have to claim and is probably getting to claim the child too. And if they continue to accrue debt while incarcerated and then get out and can’t find a job and debt continues to accrue- they go back to jail. Are they really concerned about the children? And require both able bodied parents to work… being the custodial parent is no reason to sit back and wait for the other parent to pay you.If you can work- take care of your kid. 2 wrongs don’t make a right. 

    • The Truth

       Well said. Thank you, Guest.

    • Poo

      You are rare. Kudos, and thank you from your children.


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