JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate has approved a bill allowing the creation of special courts to handle child support cases. Tuesday's vote sent the measure to the House.
Under the so-called "fathering courts" bill, people convicted of failing to pay child support could have their sentences reduced if they complete court-ordered treatment or resume payments.
Sponsoring Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, says the bill is modeled on a system used in Jackson County. Smith says the system removes hundreds of cases from an overburdened court system and encourages people to meet child support obligations.
The bill also lowers a child support penalty to a misdemeanor if the amount owed is less than 12 monthly payments.