When a relationship between parents ends, child custody issues tend to dominate any negotiations or court proceedings concerning the divorce or break-up. Even though the nuances of child support orders vary, typically a non-custodial parent is ordered to pay the custodial parent child support to help with the rearing of their child.

Residents of Michigan will find it interesting to learn there are consequences for the non-custodial parent for non-payment of child support. Recently, a judge ordered a man who owes nearly $100,000 in child support arrears not to have any more children for at least the next five years while he is on probation for failing to pay child support. The man has four children. If the man violates these terms, he potentially faces a year in prison. It is unclear how the court will ensure the man is not violating his probation.

The sentence by the judge in the above case is unique. In most states, including Michigan, child support is determined by using state guidelines, which takes into account the incomes of both parents and other expenses such as childcare and healthcare. Failure to pay child support can result in criminal penalties. However, the Michigan Supreme Court in August 2012 ruled that parents accused of failing to pay child support can defend themselves by showing they exhausted all their financial means and it is impossible for them to pay child support. However, this is a very high standard and virtually impossible to meet.

In today’s hard economy, non-custodial parents facing financial challenges may find it difficult to meet their child support obligations. In such a case, they should consider seeking the advice of a family law attorney to evaluate options such as a child support modification. No matter the circumstances, it is important to act. Inaction or non-payment of child support can lead to criminal penalties.

Source: The Chronicle-Telegram, “Judge tells man who owes nearly $100K in child support to stop having children,” Brad Dicken, Jan. 24, 2013