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Court gives unorthodox child support enforcement order

Most of our Woodbury readers would probably agree that all children need care from both of their parents. Moreover, children also need financial support from their parents. Like most states, Minnesota courts do all that they can to look after the best interests of the children. They do this in part by awarding appropriate child support orders to make sure that children have necessary resources, even if their parents are divorced or separated.

Of course, Minnesota courts do not take kindly to parents who fail to pay child support. The Minnesota Department of Human Resources works to enforce child support orders so that custodial parents and their children get the money they are due in a timely fashion. Minnesota law allows the Department to pursue delinquent payments in a number of ways, including driver's license suspensions, motor vehicle liens and occupational license suspensions.

Sometimes, however, these measures are not effective and the courts must go further. When this happens, the parent who owes child support may face a contempt of court judgment, which can include other, more severe penalties. Recently, this was the situation in a courtroom in neighboring Wisconsin.

In that case, a man owed about $90,000 in child support and interest. The court took a unique approach to sanctioning the man. Rather than ordering community service or even imprisonment, the court drew upon a 2001 state supreme court decision and ordered the man to abstain from having any more children.

While the court order in this case is clearly unorthodox, it shows the disdain that courts sometimes have for parents who do not pay child support. Under Minnesota law, courts order child support based in large part on the income of each parent. In addition, courts also look to how many other children the obligor may already be supporting.

Accordingly, if for some reason a parent can no longer meet their child support obligations, they can petition the court for a modification. Child support orders are not designed to cripple the obligor. Likewise, a parent who is owed child support should not have to struggle financially to take care of their minor children.

Source: MPR News, "Court to deadbeat dad: Stop having kids," Bob Collins, Dec. 4, 2012

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