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Innovative program seeks to boost child support collection

Child support collection can be a contentious issue. Many parents who don't have custody are notoriously bad at paying it. This phenomenon isn't unique to fathers, though the term "deadbeat dad" is now a well-worn phrase in the American lexicon.

In Virginia and other states, government authorities often assist with child support collection. Naturally, they tend to be on the lookout for innovative programs that make the collection process smoother for all concerned - and deliver money more dependably to the children that child support awards are intended to help.

To be sure, there's always the threat of jailing a parent who gets badly behind on child support payments. But that is a pretty extreme step. It's extreme not just because jail can be a harsh place. It's also an extreme step because being in jail obviously greatly limits the ability of a parent who owes support to make money to pay that support.

Recently, however, the state of Michigan has come up with a new and effective way to get parents who owe child support to comply. In Ottawa County, Michigan, authorities have drawn considerable attention for using a special device to immobilize the cars of parents who are late on child support.

The device is called a "boot," and it will shred someone's tire if they try to drive away with one on. When authorities put the boot on someone's car, they also leave a warning sticker with contact information about how to resolve the child support payment issue.

So far, most people whose cars have received this treatment have chosen to pay up. In exchange for doing so, they not only regain use of their vehicles; they also get bench warrants against them lifted by the court that enforces child support orders.

Critics of the program are concerned that it will prevent people from getting to work, and thus with earning the income they need to pay child support. Supporters of the program respond that if those parents were working, they should have been paying child support in the first place.

Source: "Parents Late With Child Support Get Boot On Car In Michigan," digtriad, 3-6-13

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post in Virginia. To learn more about our practice, please visit our child support page.

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