LANSING, Mich. (AP) - For the first time, the Michigan Supreme Court says people charged with a crime for failing to pay child support can defend themselves by showing it was impossible for them to come up with money.
In a 4-3 decision Tuesday, with Republicans in the majority, the court gave guidance on how it should work, but it's not easy. The justices say there must be a good-faith effort as well as proof that a defendant couldn't pay support through no fault of his or her own.
The court says all avenues must be explored, such as the sale of assets, refinancing a home or lawful attempts to get cash.
But Democratic justices call the new standard a "nearly insurmountable barrier" for poor people who simply are unable to pay child support.
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