A spouse going to prison is one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to deal with.

The effect on families is terrible. In fact, most families don’t make it through a spouse’s prison sentence.

Divorce is the almost inevitable result.

So, what happens with child support and alimony when one spouse is in prison?

It’s obvious there’s no money coming in during the prison sentence. Does this mean there will be no obligation to pay?

The answer may surprise you.

Spouses going to prison happens often, and the Utah Supreme Court had this to say about parents who commit crimes and then try to get out of paying child support:

“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.” Proctor v. Proctor, 773 P.2d 1389, 1391 (Utah App. 1989).

So, if a parent commits a crime and go to prison, the parent has to pay child support anyway.

Now, since the parent in prison doesn’t have an income, what this really means is child support obligations will accrue during the prison sentence. Then, when the parent is released from prison and finds a job, he or she will have to pay back child support.

When it comes to alimony, there is no case from the Utah Supreme Court like Proctor. This means whether someone will be obligated to pay alimony during a prison sentence is an open question.

That said, this is what we’ve found in our experience going to trial on these prison cases: judges treat child support and alimony the same way.

In other words: judges will order a spouse in prison to pay alimony.

This isn’t a 100% rule, but it happens in a good majority of cases we know about.

You’ll need to wait a while to get paid, just like with child support, but it is likely you’ll receive alimony.

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