Some Thoughts on Child Support Amnesties
Genesee, MI--"When child support payments pile up, parents who owe money often stay away from their children for fear of being arrested. "Genesee County is offering a solution: Turn yourself in between Mother's Day and Father's Day and you won't be arrested. "It's a new amnesty program the county is trying out. It's called Parent Safe Surrender. "Sitting in a cell, they wouldn't be able to pay, so the people at Genesee County Friend of the Court thought, 'Why not just let them turn themselves in?'" This temporary child support amnesty program from the Genesee County, Michigan Friend of the Court is a good idea, I guess, although I trust Michigan child support about as much as I can dance ballet. I would also add that in a state hard hit by economic troubles like Michigan, a large percentage of the alleged "child support arrears" are fake, and are instead caused by fathers' inability to get their child support modified downward after being laid off. However, one thing in the story did interest me--the statement, "When child support payments pile up, parents who owe money often stay away from their children for fear of being arrested." Child support enforcement often criticizes child support debtor dads for not being in their kids' lives or they say "at least they should have paid some," but the reality is that the state's punitive measures often drive the fathers away. It is nice to see this acknowledged. I made this point during my debate with Ohio Butler County Child Support Enforcement Agency Executive Director Cynthia Brown last year. Butler launched a highly-publicized campaign which put mug shots of the County"s "Most Wanted Deadbeat Parents' on pizza boxes. She said the "deadbeats" she was pursuing and publicly humiliating "had been gone for years." I replied, "Maybe they're gone because you've been chasing them." The full story is Turn yourself in between Mother's Day, Father's Day, you won't be arrested (WJRT, 05/09/08)--thanks to Cecilia, a reader, for sending it. To watch my debate with Brown on FOX News, click here.