March 4, 2015

We’ve all heard about Detroit’s Carnell Alexander who’s been ordered to pay $30,000 in child support for a child everyone acknowledges isn’t his. Now we have Detroit native Lional Campbell who’s being forced to pay support for his son Michael who died 24 years ago at the age of three.

If that’s not surprising enough, there’s the fact that Campbell has demanded three separate audits of what he supposedly owes and each audit came up with a drastically different figure. The first figure was about $43,000, the second came in at a little under $20,000 and the latest is about $6,400.

Campbell has another son by the same woman, and for years he thought he was paying off arrearages owed for him. But he finally figured out that something seemed amiss, so, in 2011, he took Michael’s death certificate to the appropriate authorities. That was when they told him he still owed $43,000.

Now, for a child who died at age three, it’s all but impossible to run up a bill of $43,000. The average child support order for non-custodial fathers is about $6,000. If Campbell had never paid a dime, he’d only owe $18,000 plus interest. How the Friend of the Court came up with the figure $43,000 is a mystery, one that’s fortunately moot.

Campbell reached out to 7 Action News and while a spokesperson for the Friend of the Court could not talk specifically about Campbell's case because of privacy issues, they did tell us that surcharges drastically raise the amounts owed by non-custodial parents.

One court official likened the surcharges, that ended several years ago, to "loan sharking".

The addition of fees and interest that for years ran as high as 12% per year in some states did indeed up the price of child support for many non-custodial parents. Before downward modifications of interest rates, it was not uncommon for non-custodial parents in arrears to pay the amount of the order each month, but fall further and further behind. That appears to be what happened to Campbell.

Read the rest of the story here (RTV6 ABC, 3/1/15).

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