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Unique punishments for parents who fail to pay child support

Under Michigan law, child support payment amounts are determined by a formula. The formula takes into account income of both parents and custody arrangements. Even though many parents may disagree with the amount or the responsibility of child support payments, it is very important to take these obligations seriously.

Many times, negligent parents can be put in jail for not paying support because it is a crime. Instead of spending money putting these non-violent offenders in prison, however, new tactics and solutions are being explored.

Recently, a judge in Kentucky decided to take a unique approach to punishing parents who fail to make their child support payments. Instead of jail time, parents can choose to spend a total of 40 hours standing outside the county justice building wearing a large sandwich board sign that reads, "I do not pay child support".

The punishment is intended to hold offenders accountable for their financial negligence. Although the unique penalty is not designed to necessarily humiliate or embarrass a parent, many of the people wearing the signs say that passersby often have some derogatory comments for them.

So far, there is no conclusive information on whether or not this form of retribution is effective. Will it prevent parents from recommitting their failure to pay crime? Will it deter parents from skipping payments in the first place? It is important for parents who are ordered to pay child support to do so in full and on time. When this does not happen, legal consequences may occur. For those who experience a change in financial circumstances, there may be options to have the amount modified.

Source: WBIR, "Child support offenders wear signs to limit jail time," Stoney Sharp, March 9, 2012

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