April 4, 2013

Michigan County to target noncustodial parents’ cars

Michigan’s Ottawa County has collected $17,000 with a program aimed at pushing noncustodial parents to make timely child support payments by targeting their vehicles, an initiative that has attracted the attention of other Michigan communities seeking ways to deal with their own delinquency issues. Deputies with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department have traveled to at least three other counties to demonstrate the program, which they believe has convinced officials in those areas to adopt similar methods as an alternative to jail time for noncustodial parents who fail to pay child support.

Ottawa County has been placing devices called boots to the tires of vehicles belonging to nonpaying parents for the past two years; a measure officials say has dramatically improved collections. The devices are designed to prevent the parents from driving as they cause the tire to rip if the car moves. After deputies apply the boot to a car, they affix a warning sticker to the vehicle explaining what steps the parent needs to take in order to have it removed. According to city officials, deputies have put boots on 35 cars to date. The parents in all but two of these cases have willingly complied with the county Friend of the Court Department in order to resolve their issues.

One deputy explained that even the threat of having their car booted is enough to spur some noncustodial parents into action. He stated that many times they come out and offer to pay as he approaches the house, before he has a chance to boot their car.

A court official denied suggestions that the program could prevent parents from getting to work and thus making it more difficult to pay child support. “Their vehicle won’t be immobilized if they pay,” she contended, “So if they are not paying and they do have employment, then I’m concerned about why they haven’t been paying.”

Source: DigTriad.com, “Parents Late With Child Support Gets Boot on Car in Michigan,” March 6, 2013