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Deadbeat parents booted, support payments increase

7:23 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- Ottawa County is getting statewide attention for a program that collects late child support payments, without putting parents in jail. Instead of making an arrest, a sheriff's deputy puts a special device called a boot on the persons car, which stops it from moving until a payment is made.

"It will shred the tire if they attempt to drive," says Matthew Vanliere, a deputy with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department.

In the past two years, the Friend of the Court Department has seen payments pouring in.

"As I'm approaching the house, the person will come outside and say 'I'll take care of the bench warrant,you don't have to boot my car,'" says Vanliere.

Once the boot is put in place, deputies put a warning sticker on the car with contact information of how it can be removed.  35 vehicles have been given the boot, so far and county officials say only in two cases were the issues not resolved.

"We've collected over $17,000 for custodial parents and families in Ottawa County," says Jennell Challa, Director of the Friend of the Court Department.

Now, court workers in at least three other Michigan Counties: Jackson, Barry, and Oakland, want to know how the program works.

"We have traveled there with the boot, given them a demonstration, and from my understanding it's something they will be implementing," says Vanliere.

When asked if the program interferes with parents getting to work, Challa responded by saying, "Their vehicle won't be immobilized if they pay, so if they are not paying and they do have employment, then I'm concerned about why they haven't been paying."

County officials say in some situations, a judge has given permission for a car to be seized and sold through an auction. The money from the sale is then given to the parents that's owed child support.

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