Inmates free from paying child support in Louisiana
A new Louisiana law frees certain inmates from paying child support - but where does it leave the other parent?
The law is part of Gov. John Bel Edwards' criminal justice reform package and suspends child support while a parent is in jail for more than six months on charges unrelated to domestic violence or failure to pay child support in the first place.
At first glance, the law may only seem beneficial for the parent behind bars.
"They've been in prison for 20 years, and they have thousands of dollars worth of child support... they're more likely to go in and commit another crime to pay that off," says Lamar Walters, a divorce attorney and partner at Breithaupt, Dunn, DuBos, Shafto & Wolleson, LLC in Monroe.
Walters deals with clients' child support issues on a daily basis and knows the new law will be a tough pill to swallow for some.
"I mean, they could be in jail for 10 or 20 years, so there's a possibility that parent who was owed child support would not have the benefit of the child support for the time the child is a minor," says Walters.
Jill Adams and Danielle Cagle are best friends, and they both know the hardship of supporting kids on their own.
"Through my divorce and the litigation and the gossip being said, she became my something good," says Adams of Cagle.
Both women are horrified by the effects of the child support law.
"My immediate reaction was... this is ridiculous," says Adams.
"Rewarding bad behavior seems ridiculous on any level because our children don't stop eating and being cared for," says Cagle. "None of that changes."
Cagle and Adams' exes have both been to prison; they feel the new law leaves parents like them with the short end of the stick.
"It's almost encouraging people to go break the law to avoid paying," says Adams.
Lawmakers feel the point of the law is to be realistic about most criminals' futures.
"If you look at it realistically, that person is not going to be able to earn any income and pay that child support anyway," says Walters.
The other parent or child could file a motion to petition for the months of pay when the person is out of jail.
The law does not go into effect until 2019.