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Child support scofflaws getting the boot in Michigan

Parents in Michigan who are owed child support should be informed that there are a number of legal mechanisms available to attempt to compel compliance. One way that law enforcement has been aiding those owed child support is by placing an orange "boot" on vehicles owned by parents who behind on payments. The mechanism prevents individuals from using their vehicles.

In appropriate cases, with the obtainment of a court order, such vehicles or other property belonging to a parent who has ignored his or her child support obligations can be seized and sold. The money obtained through these sales is then used to pay off some or all of the back support owed. A state law authorizes such seizures and sales, and at least one county has begun an aggressive program using this method to gain compliance with child support orders.

When law enforcement, after an investigation, determines that a vehicle is owned by someone in violation of a court's order to pay child support, an orange boot can be placed on their car or truck, preventing it from being driven. If the owner attempts to interfere or tamper with the boot device, they can face criminal charges of property destruction. Owners who object can have the boot removed if they can show either that they are not the person subject to the court order or that the information showing that they have not paid their obligation is incorrect.

The failure to pay child support is a serious matter which can leave a child and custodial parent without the ability to pay for rent, food, and medical costs. It can also have serious consequences for the scofflaw, including the loss of the ability to drive a vehicle. Law enforcement increasingly takes the matter seriously, so a parent either needing to collect child support or having difficulty paying child support should seek legal assistance.

Source: Niles Daily Star, "Berrien 'booting' vehicles," John Eby, July 19, 2012

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