Unconventional penalty for late child support payees gaining momentum

Both federal and state governments all across the U.S. have passed laws that penalize parents who fail to pay child support orders mandated by court orders.

Under the federal Child Support Recovery Act, parents can face up to a maximum of six months in jail if they accrue past due child support payments that exceed $5,000. If parents accrue an arrearage of more than $10,000, they will face felony charges.

Individual states have passed similar laws. The state of Illinois, for example, will deem individuals in contempt of court and put them in jail.

One county located within the state of Michigan, however, is gaining widespread media attention for their latest, unconventional punishment assessed against parents who fail to pay court ordered support.

The "boot" proves successful

Typically, in the state of Michigan, those who fail to pay child support will face jail time. However, Ottawa County, located in the popular Grand Haven Michigan has decided to try a different route-they have opted to "boot" the person's car.

A "boot" is essentially a device that is attached to the wheel of a vehicle that prevents the car from moving. If a driver attempts to drive the car with the device, the device essentially will shred the vehicle's tire. So the driver can't get to work, and must get a new tire.

And, the initiative seems to be working. According to the Friend of the Court Department, child support payments have increased. Thus far, out of the 35 vehicles that have been booted, only two cases haven't been paid. A reported $17,000 total has been collected and provided to children in need.

Many say it's no surprise the program is a success. Many areas of the country simply don't have adequate public transportation for individuals to use as an alternative to getting around to a job. In some places, if you don't have a personal vehicle, it's likely you won't be going to work.

One deputy with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department reported the desperation in some individuals. As soon as they seen someone with a boot to put on their vehicle, they take immediate action to pay the arrearage.

Interest gaining in other jurisdictions

Due to the effectiveness of the program, at least three other counties in Michigan have expressed interest. It's reported that individuals in charge of the program have even traveled to meet with authorities in those jurisdictions to provide an onsite demonstration.

It remains to be seen whether this new, unconventional initiative to help children receive the support they need will expand into other areas of the country.

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