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      Child support amnesty program gives offenders chance to catch up

      M ore than 80 arrest warrants for unpaid child support could be wiped from the books in one northern Michigan county.

      C heboygan County has launched an amnesty program to help get child support offenders back on track with their payments.

      "T here are some people that owe a few hundred that they haven't paid and there are some that owe several thousand dollars ," Kevin Weller, Cheboygan County Friend of the Court said.

      T he Friend of the Court for the County is offering an amnesty program.

      O ffenders can come to their office and make a payment of one percent of what they owe or $250. In return the warrant will be lifted and they stay out of jail.

      "B y bringing them in and having the face - to - face contact , we find that it leads to more positive things for them and also the families ," Weller said.

      D uring the meeting , this office will also set up a plan for future payments.

      "I t really is about money for the children and not about arresting parents and encourage them to find employment , whatever employment they can and make whatever payments they can, and not hide in the shadows ," Stephen Lindsay, Cheboygan Attorney said.

      C ounty leaders hope this step will put money back into the kids hands and lift the burden on the legal system. F reeing up thousands of dollars in legal fees usually used to try offenders.

      "W e have actually been successful with a few individuals who enter into a payment agreement and get rid of their bench warrant and try to get them back on track," Weller said.

      A nd if this program is successful, many bel ie ve it could be adopted by other counties up north.

      "I think if we have a positive experience here in Cheboygan County they would be very inclined to try the program themselves," Lindsay said.

      T he program lasts until April 11th.