Failure to pay child support lands 16 in jail

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Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods has arrested 16 Jefferson County parents who violated court orders requiring them to pay child support. This week’s sweep, which began Tuesday and ended yesterday, was conducted in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division. The effort focused on parents subject to arrest warrants because of their failure to pay child support.

“Parents have a moral and legal obligation to make regular child support payments,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said. “By collecting child support, we are ensuring young Texans have the resources they need to grow healthy and strong. We are grateful to Sheriff Mitch Woods for his unfailing commitment to Texas children.”

This week’s sweep targeted parents who are wanted for contempt of court because of their failure to pay child support. After holding a4:30 a.m. briefing on Tuesday at the county jail, Sheriff Woods dispatched teams of law enforcement officers to locate and arrest the noncompliant parents before they had a chance to leave their homes for the day. Child Support Division investigators aided the sheriff by providing logistical assistance to locate missing parents.

Delinquent parents arrested on civil warrants face up to six months in jail. Cash bonds posted by delinquent parents seeking release from jail are paid to the custodial parents and children who are owed back child support.

To avoid the embarrassment of arrest at home or work, parents with child support warrants should contact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Parents who have fallen behind on their child support payments – but are not subject to warrants for their arrest – should immediately contact the Attorney General’s Child Support Division at (800) 252-8014 to make payment arrangements.

Under state and federal law, the Office of the Attorney General can assist families who request child support services and must serve families who currently receive or have received public assistance. Services offered by the Child Support Division include locating absent parents; establishing paternity for children born to unmarried parents; establishing, enforcing, and modifying child and medical support orders; and collecting and distributing child support payments.

Statewide, child support collected by the Office of the Attorney General exceeded $3.6 billion for the state fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2013. The Jefferson County child support offices collected $110 million of that amount.