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The Detroit News reported that former Red Wings’ trainer John Wharton was arrested and jailed for unpaid child support: Former Wings trainer Wharton jailed on child-support charges (http://detnews.com/article/20110502/METRO02/105020325/Former-Wings-trainer-Wharton-jailed-on-child-support-charges). It appears he had been arrested before for unpaid child support, but paid a bond and then left the state moving to New York. He recently returned to Michigan, however, and was arrested again on a warrant issued by the Michigan Attorney General.
In Michigan, child support obligations are enforced by not only the courts, but also the local prosecutors and even the attorney general’s office. For non-payment of child support, the Friend of the Court can garnish your tax refunds, suspend your driver’s license, file a lien against your property, report the debt to credit agencies, garnish a private pension or retirement, and issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Additionally, in cases where the amount of support owing is excessive, the Friend of the Court can refer the case to the local prosecutor for felony charges. Felony non-support cases can also result in jail sentences.
What people don’t always realize is that child support is modifiable in Michigan. The Friend of the Court can conduct an automatic review of child support every 36 months. However, if there is a substantial change in income, a parent can file a request for modification and have it reviewed, even if it hasn’t been 36 months.
The court and Attorney General will also work with parents on overdue support. However, an effort must be made to make timely payments, and if the parent is unemployed, to find viable employment.
The lesson is clear—if there is a substantial change in income, it is important to request modification of child support. If the person paying child support becomes delinquent, the penalties can be excessive and extreme, and, in some cases, avoidable.