AG Child Support Division Reaches Milestone of Helping 10,000 Michigan Children
April 30, 2012
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that the Attorney General's Child Support Division has secured more than $120 million in child support owed to more than 10,000 Michigan children.
"If you have the ability to pay child support and refuse to fulfill that responsibility, we will hold you accountable," said Schuette. "It's a privilege to help more than 10,000 children and their parents when they need it most."
Schuette's Child Support Division has collected more than $120,841,450.51, according to the most recent statistics available. A total of 10,150 children have received child support funds owed to them since the Attorney General's Child Support Division was launched in 2003. The largest payment received, to date, was $250,000 in a 2004 case arising from Kent County. Since its launch, the office has averaged approximately 900 warrants and 770 arrests per year.
Schuette noted the Child Support Division focuses on those parents who have an ability to pay, but refuse to do so. Michigan is the only state to make failure to pay child support a four-year felony. Schuette said his office focuses on non-custodial parents resuming regular child support payments, not jail time. As a result, Michigan kids are paid what they are owed and subsequently receive consistent support into the future. Oftentimes the recognition of potential criminal prosecution is enough to encourage a non-custodial parent to act before setting foot in a courtroom.
"The threat of criminal prosecution can be a very strong motivator," said Schuette. "Our goal is to ensure parents resume regular, on-time payments that children can rely upon."
Schuette noted that the Attorney General's Child Support Division pays for itself, collecting $17 in child support for every $1 in State general funds invested for its operation. In addition to recovering funds for Michigan families, the Child Support Division recovers taxpayer dollars spent to assist needy families when they do not receive the child support to which they are entitled. Approximately 10% of total funds collected reimburse the State's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for families who qualified for assistance during the time they failed to receive child support. To date, more than $9 million have been recovered for the taxpayer-funded program, allowing the State Department of Human Services to continue to assist more of Michigan's families in need.
The Michigan Attorney General's Child Support Division was the first statewide felony non-support enforcement effort in the United States. The Division receives case referrals from county prosecutors, Friend of the Court offices, custodial parents, and law enforcement agencies. The Division also regularly conducts investigative work to identify non-custodial parents currently behind in child support payments who have the ability to pay. Charges are initiated only when an investigative analysis of the offender's financial circumstances reveals an ability to pay.
"I would like to thank the local prosecutors across the state who send referrals and regularly make court appearances for our cases. Without their partnership, the success of this enforcement initiative on behalf of Michigan kids would not be possible."
Schuette urged custodial parents currently not receiving support to file an online request with his office at www.michigan.gov/ag.