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Michigan county offers amnesty to parents behind on support payments

When parents separate, there are many financial and support decisions that must be made. Minor children have a right to the financial support of a parent. Courts are often involved in these determinations and a judge may decide which parent will pay child support and how much that parent will pay. Sometimes making consistent payments is easier said than done. For this reason, both the person paying support and the recipient can seek legal help if there are issues with the payments.

One county in Michigan is taking a new approach to child support enforcement. The programs aims to help slacking parents instead of punishing them for non-payment. The program promises no arrest for those who seek help to resolve their outstanding Friend of the Court warrants.

After two years of the program, Genese county has kept parents out of jail and put them back on the right track. The county's Friend of the Court office has the task of enforcing parenting orders, including child support payments, custody orders and arrangements of parenting time.

Held at night at a local church, the program extends amnesty for participants who attend. If parents feel threatened with arrest they may never seek help. That's why the goal of the program is to reduce the concern for arrest and help parents fulfill their duties to their children.

This is a much better option than the alternative, which is jail time. Earlier this month, officials in the city of Flint sought out parents who were not making child support payments. Nineteen of these people ended up in jail for contempt and failure to pay child support.

Source: MLive, "Genesee County child support program offers no-arrest promise and information," Ron Fonger, March 23, 2013

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