DETROIT (WWJ) – Over $100 million in child support has been brought back to families and children in Michigan in eight years, thanks to an effort by the Attorney General’s Child Support Division.
Attorney General Bill Schuette says Michigan’s child support law is the toughest in the nation. For those who don’t pay — it’s a four-year felony.
Speaking with reporters, Tuesday, Schuette said that, even though the law has some pretty sharp teeth, the goal is not to put people in jail.
“We want to encourage parents instead of putting someone behind bars. That doesn’t help that person still have an income, have employment and then make the proper payments to the custodial parent,” he said.
Schuette said the amount of owed child support collected from a parent has ranged from $20,000 to $50,000, and sometimes more. In Kent County, one parent owed $250,000.
Mary Brown, a custodial parent of two children, said she fought for 11 years to try to get her ex-husband to pay child support regularly.
Brown said the using usual avenues for relief never worked.
“(I’d say) it’s not working. I can’t buy groceries. And I would look at the referee or the judge or the attorney and say ‘I can’t buy groceries. I have the children,” she said.
Brown said her financial struggle was so profound, she lost both her home and her car.
The AG office took her case and Brown’s ex-husband is now paying thousands of dollars in back-support. Brown said her daughter is now making plans for college.