St. Louis Public Radio News
7:38 pm
Tue April 28, 2009

Mo. lawmakers pass child support relief bills

Jefferson City, MO – Two bills designed to ease burdens on men paying child support have passed the Missouri General Assembly and are on their way to Governor Jay Nixon.

One bill creates special courts that could refer delinquent fathers to job training programs instead of prison.

It was sponsored by State Senator Jeff Smith (D, St. Louis).

"Instead of having felonies and going to jail for this, which is essentially a debtor's prison, the alternative sentencing provisions will allow these men to get whatever tools they need to get back on their feet, get a job, reconnect with their child and their family, and be paying child support," Smith said.

The second bill, which Smith also sponsored, gives a man two years to verify paternity through DNA testing.

And if he is proved not to be the father, he would be excused from child support debt and any future payments.