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Michigan Lawmakers Look to Loosen Bail in Child Support Cases

BY IN Child Support

Michigan legislators recently introduced a package of nine bills to overhaul the state’s cash bail system, including for people who have child support arrears.

Proponents of the legislation and the lawmakers introducing the legislation argue that the current law, which often requires people charged with a crime to put up significant amounts of cash if they want to stay out of jail while pending trial, discriminates against people who can’t pony up that kind of money.

“Pulling someone off the job and putting them in jail creates a vicious cycle,” State Rep. Tommy Brann (R – Wyoming) said at a press conference announcing the proposals. “Sitting in jail does not help them pay their debts.”

The idea is that people already having trouble making those payments may be put in a deeper hole if they have to come up with a significant cash bail amount or are forced to miss work while behind bars awaiting a trial or hearing.

Roughly 41 percent of inmates in Michigan jails are waiting for trial, according to the legislation’s sponsors. It costs the state government about $75 per person per day to house those inmates.

Brann is joined by State Rep. David LaGrand (D–Grand Rapids) and Sen. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor) as lead sponsors of the legislative package. State Attorney General Dana Nessel has also expressed support for overhauling the cash bail system.

“The current system disproportionally burdens those with lower incomes, often reinforcing poverty cycles with deep consequences for even minor infractions,” LaGrand said after introducing the legislation.

On the other hand, when child support is ordered, the amount that was ordered is deemed to be fair.  If circumstances change, a payor of child support may petition the court for a different support amount.  That is different than in cases of bail in a criminal case.

In child support cases, when the payor of support fails to pay the ordered child support amount, the children will be the harmed by the lack of payment.  In reality, when the payor of support must post bond to be released from jail, those funds are applied to the outstanding support amount thereby benefiting the minor children.  Usually, parents that owe child support arrearages obtain support from third parties to post bail and make a payment towards their child support obligation. Sometimes, the parent can’t find help or the amount is too drastic.

Certainly, these issues are complex and at Kraayeveld Law, we have represented parents to collect outstanding support and we have represented parents about to be arrested for failure to pay an impossible amount of support and needing a modification of the support order.  No legislation should take away a judge’s authority to apply logic, common sense and issue an order that fits the facts of that particular case.

Speak with a Grand Rapids Alimony Lawyer Today

If you’re thinking about separating or getting a divorce or are grappling with child support issues, the help of an experienced family law attorney can go a long way. A seasoned attorney can help you navigate the legal process, weighing your rights and options every step of the way.

At Kraayeveld Law, our Grand Rapids alimony lawyers have been representing people throughout the area in divorce and other family law matters for more than a quarter of a century. Our firm combines decades of experience in child support and other matters to help people efficiently untangle their marriages.

We are conveniently located in Grand Rapids. Call 616-285-0808 or contact us online to make an appointment to speak with a Grand Rapids alimony lawyer about your situation.