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Evidence of Imprisonment for Debt in Michigan

Evidence of Imprisonment for Debt in Michigan

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Published by DougDante
Michigan's Constitution prohibits imprisonment for debt (i.e. debtor's prison) except in the cases of fraud or breach of trust. Michigan's Constitutionally strict prohibition on imprisoning debtors except in cases of fraud and breach of trust is not preventing parents from being arrested for failure to pay child support, even if the Friend of the Court or the court (for whom they work) is aware that they don't have the resources to pay.
Michigan's Constitution prohibits imprisonment for debt (i.e. debtor's prison) except in the cases of fraud or breach of trust. Michigan's Constitutionally strict prohibition on imprisoning debtors except in cases of fraud and breach of trust is not preventing parents from being arrested for failure to pay child support, even if the Friend of the Court or the court (for whom they work) is aware that they don't have the resources to pay.

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Published by: DougDante on Aug 20, 2010
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12/13/2010

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Evidence of De Facto of Imprisonment for Debt in Michigan
Doug DanteFriday, August 20, 2010I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.Michigan's Constitution prohibits imprisonment for debt (i.e. debtor's prison) except in the cases offraud or breach of trust.
"§ 21 Imprisonment for debt.Sec. 21. No person shall be imprisoned for debt arising out of or foundedon contract, express or implied, except in cases of fraud or breach of trust."  Michigan Constitutionwww.legislature.mi.gov/documents/publications/constitution.pdf "breach of trust: The willful misappropriation, by a trustee, of a thingwhich had been lawfully delivered to him in confidence.http://www.lectlaw.com/def/b112.htm"The term 'fraud' is generally defined in the law as an intentionalmisrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person toanother with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing theother person to act, and upon which the other person relies withresulting injury or damage." http://www.lectlaw.com/def/f079.htm
Compare to Michigan law, which reads in part:
"...The court shall specify in the bench warrant the cash performancebond amount. The court shall set the cash performance bond at not lessthan $500.00 or 25% of the arrearage, whichever is greater..."  MCL 552.631 Section 31http://www.legislature.mi.gov/mileg.aspx? page=getobject&objectname=mcl-552-631
 
"In the absence of proofs to the contrary introduced by the payer, thecourt shall presume that the payer has currently available resourcesequal to 4 weeks of payments under the support order...."  MCL 552.633 Section 33http://www.legislature.mi.gov/mileg.aspx? page=getobject&objectname=mcl-552-633
In order to avoid debtor's prison when they honestly can't pay, a parent has to introduce "proofs to thecontrary ... that the payer has currently available resources equal to 4 weeks of payment under thesupport order"Unfortunately, court appointed lawyers may be unhelpful and fail to prepare their clients to presentsufficient proofs:
Furthermore, in practice, courts may simply reject all offered proofs as insufficient.
"Every Friday morning, around 150 people are called to the OttawaCounty Courthouse because they’re behind on child support. A goodnumber make payments and are free to go." Child support: It’s pay up or auto lockdown for shirkersBy PETER DAININGThe Holland Sentinel Posted Aug 13, 2010 @ 05:30 AM  Last update Aug 15, 2010 @ 10:39 PM http://www.hollandsentinel.com/feature/x1422842089/Child-support-It-s-pay-up-or-auto-lockdown-for-shirkers
The implication is that if parents don't make sufficient payments, they are imprisoned. No parent is setfree based on proofs of no currently available resources.However, it seems to me that under the Michigan Constitution, the court must affirmatively hold that adebtor has committed "fraud" or "breach of trust".For example, in this RipOffReport, a mother claims that that a Friend of the Court agent threatened afather with jail unless he agreed to let them keep the child support which rightfully belonged to her andher children, but was in a joint checking account with her husband:
 
"She took my husband ALONE downstairs and basically told him that if he didn't sign over ALL the money out of our account, she would not lift the bench warrant, and he would be arrested. When my husband tried totell her that the money wasn't his and that it was every cent we had, shetold him, "You're telling me a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with your kid." So basically, my husband signed off all of MY money or elsehe was going to jail. Does that sound like extortion or what???"  Report: COUNTYNAME County Friend Of The Court COUNTYNAME County Friend Of The Court rip-off! They cleaned out my bank account for my husband's arrearage, now we are bankrupt!CITYNAME Michiganhttp://www.ripoffreport.com/Family-Services/Genesee-County- Frien/genesee-county-friend-of-the-c-2d3dy.htm
The FOC is an agent of the court and a part of the government of the State of Michigan, and as such, isbound by Michigan's Constitution in applying the law.These incidences and others suggest that Michigan's Constitutionally strict prohibition on imprisoningdebtors except in cases of fraud and breach of trust is not preventing parents from being arrested forfailure to pay child support, even if the Friend of the Court or the court (for whom they work) is awarethat they don't have the resources to pay. In other words, evidence indicates that Michigan may havede facto debtor's prisons for child support debtors. Furthermore, this evidence suggest that the offers ofproof of lack of resources may be routinely ignored by both the Friend of the Court and by the courts.
"De facto is a Latin expression that means "by [the] fact". In law, it ismeant to mean "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but without being officially established"." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_facto
If these accounts are correct, the motivation behind forcing child support payments, even to the extentof seizing another child's support money to pay for a different child, may be the financial conflicts ofinterest that Friend of the Court workers face. Each time a payment is made, Title IV-D funding for theFriend of the Court increases, even if those payments are made from another child's money.See also:
 A Review of Friend of the Court Legislative Changes: Suffer the LittleChildrenhttp://www.scribd.com/doc/29563848/A-Review-of-Friend-of-the-Court- Legislative-Changes-Suffer-the-Little-ChildrenSome Thoughts on Child Support and Michigan's Friend of the Court http://www.scribd.com/doc/458394/Michigan-Friend-of-the-Court-

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DelAnn Pountain added this note
I think that this is the proof that everyone should bring to court with them. This will help so many people because I already know over 20 people who are going to get locked up for child arrearage
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