Every now and then, people may hear on the news or read in a newspaper that child support enforcement has increased and that authorities are rounding up parents who have failed or neglected to pay their child support obligations. What Michigan residents may not know is that depending on the amount of child support arrearage, the penalties for failure to pay can be very severe and potentially result in jail time.

In fact, according to recent reports, a 60-year-old Michigan man whose whereabouts are unknown, has been labeled a fugitive by the U.S. Office of Inspector General for owing over half a million dollars in child support arrears. Records indicate that following his divorce in 1989, the man was court-ordered to pay his ex-wife about $100 monthly in child support for his four children. However, after the divorce, the man alleged that he was unemployed and disabled, which caused his monthly payments to be dramatically reduced to about $14 per month.

Nearly seven years later, in 1996, it was discovered that the 60-year-old man actually operated a prosperous Internet business, which he had sold for over $2 million dollars. According to OIG, the man then disappeared and has not made a child support payment since that time. He was indicted two years later in 1998 for failure to pay child support. Furthermore, given that the man did not report his income in its entirety, his child support order was accordingly modified. Considering the man has not paid his child support since 1996, his child support arrears presently stand at about $560,000 and he is a fugitive of the law.

Failure to pay child support or report a change in one’s income, which can impact one’s monthly child support, can result in some very serious penalties. Rather than being reactive, it is essential for a parent to be proactive in such matters and look into available legal options, such a filing a petition for modification of child support payments. Consulting a family law attorney familiar with state law, child support guidelines and more may be beneficial.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette, “Michigan father is ‘Most Wanted Deadbeat,’ owes more than $559,000 in child support,” Rex Hall Jr., Mar. 20, 2014