Prosecutor announces third-year child support amnesty program

CLAY COUNTY — Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel White’s third warrant amnesty program for child support offenders is underway.

“For the past few days, more than 250 noncustodial parents with outstanding misdemeanor, contempt and felony child support warrants have been getting letters from our office advising they have a chance to get the warrant lifted if they work with us and make some payments,” said White. “This program gives noncustodial parents a break on the amount of their warrant, but the child support case is still pending. This is our office’s opportunity to reengage with folks we’ve not had contact with in a while.”

Last year, 270 letters were delivered with 51 noncustodial parents posting reduced bond amounts to have their warrant recalled. Of that total, 39 continue to actively pay or have purged their obligation to the court, said White.

Under the amnesty program, for those with misdemeanors and contempt warrants, payments must be at least $50 while those for felony warrants must be at least $100. The bond amounts go through the Family Support Payment Center so money goes directly to the custodial parent, not to a bondsman or back to the noncustodial parent at the conclusion of the case, according to a prosecutor’s office release.

To participate, the noncustodial parent must also provide the prosecutor’s office with updated contact information relating to residence, employment and other contact information. This program gives noncustodial parents a break on the amount of their warrant, but doesn’t reduce the amount of outstanding child support nor does it toll any pending child support case, explained White.

“The other, more severe options – including filing charges, incarceration and a series of court appearances – remain yet available for those parents who do not want to do what’s right for their kids,” White said.

White said the program is part of his office recognizing August as National Child Enforcement Awareness Month as proclaimed by President Reagan in August of 1983.

“In his proclamation, President Reagan said, ‘A parent’s obligation to a child is one which must not be abrogated,’” said White. “What we’re doing with this amnesty program is removing a one barrier to help these people continue their parental obligations. The issues surrounding child support enforcement are unique, and we work hard to find solutions that will benefit the children that need support.”

In the 2018 fiscal year, which ended June 30, the Clay County Prosecuting Attorney’s office collected more than $23.8 million in child support with a budget of $1.39 million.

“Not many investments have that type of return,” said the prosecutor.

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